Sr. Associate A.D. for Communications
|Oklahoma Senior Associate A.D. Kenny
Mossman writes this column for SoonerSports.com.
Mossman joined the OU staff in August of 2001 as director of media relations. In August of 2002, he was promoted to assistant athletics director. He was promoted to associate AD for media relations and communication in August 2004, then received his latest promotion in June 2006.
At OU, he supervises media relations, publications, graphic design, SoonerSports.com, licensing and SoonerVision.
In media relations, with his primary sport responsibility pertaining to football, he and his staff have promoted winners of the Heisman, Bednarik, Butkus, Lombardi, Nagurski, O'Brien and Thorpe Awards. In all, OU has won 10 college football national player awards and 20 All-America citations during his tenure.
Full Bio | OU Athletics Administration
It always seemed to me that Garrett Hartley was one of the more underrated Oklahoma players. So when he split the uprights with that kick that sent New Orleans to the Super Bowl, I pulled out the old Sooner stat sheets.
The numbers verify that indeed the Southlake, Texas, native should be held in higher regard.
You may remember that Hartley took over the OU kicking duties in a bit of an odd circumstance. The Sooners were 11 games into the 2004 season when he was installed during a game at Baylor.
He got only one field goal attempt that season, a 29-yard make in the National Championship game, and the jury remained somewhat hung as to whether he would provide the long-term solution.
We learned only a little more during his sophomore season of 2005 when he made just 14-of-22 field goals. There was, however, another intriguing development that season -- 32 of Hartley's 67 kickoffs went for touchbacks.
It was in 2006, Hartley's junior season, that the light went on. He made 17-of-18 field goals with his lone miss coming on a block during that fateful afternoon in Eugene, Ore. He also knocked through 45-of-46 extra points and launched another 30 touchbacks on 71 kickoff attempts.
Hartley was a finalist for the Lou Groza Award that year but didn't win. More on that later.
The senior year of 2007 was again impressive. He made 13-of-15 field goals and, despite a rule change that moved the kickoff yard-line back to the 30, still managed 29 touchbacks on 104 kickoffs.
Robbed of the necessary field goal attempts by an offense that scored too many touchdowns, Hartley failed to make the final three for the Groza Award.
When his career was over, he had made 45-of-56 field goals, including 30 of his last 33. Of those 45 makes, six came from beyond 40 yards and three more traveled more than 50. He converted 165-of-172 extra points and booted 93 touchbacks in 253 kickoffs.
The best return average against Hartley was 21.7 yards in the year of the rule change. Before that, no opponent averaged more than 17 yards following his kicks.
Of the 11 kicking categories in the OU record book, Hartley leads only two: best field goal percentage in a season (.950 in 2006) and best field goal percentage in a career (.810). Otherwise, he was a two-time All-Big 12 selection, but never an All-American and never a Groza winner.
The reason? Because Garrett Hartley, as good as he was at making field goals, was better at playing defense.
With 93 touchbacks there were 93 fewer chances for opposing teams to score on a return. In fact, only once in his four seasons did Hartley watch one of his kickoffs go back for a touchdown. In the two seasons since he left, opponents have accomplished the feat five times.
And the Groza Award was beyond Hartley's grasp because it does not take into consideration kickoffs. I've always felt that was a mistake, and perhaps no kicker underscores that reasoning quite like Hartley.
If only the kicker's job was so easy as to boil down to field goals and extra points.
Last Sunday night I guess it did boil down that way. Hartley was celebrated for a field goal. He made those here too, but we celebrate him too little... for what he meant to the defense.