Mossman Prophecies No. 009
July 2, 2007
Record-setting heat in Oklahoma. Think about that for
a second. That's like record-setting speed on the Salt
Flats or record-setting decibels for a NASA launch.
It was that stifling heat and a group of dedicated
young men that got me to thinking last Thursday.
A photographer had asked to take a picture of strength
and conditioning coach Jerry Schmidt for a local newspaper.
I escorted him to the off-season conditioning drills
that were taking place on the infield of John Jacobs
Track just east of the stadium.
Schmidt and a bevy of athletic trainers armed with
water bottles and cold towels looked on as a group
of Sooner football players went through the paces.
The sound of the band and the roar of the crowd
seemed a million miles away.
These guys wore weighted vests, did 100 medicine
ball sit-ups, ran up hills, lifted weights and did
a few other things in preparation for the upcoming
season. If the newspaper needed a caption for the photo,
it might be this: "So you want to be a big-time football
player, do you?"
I work here everyday. Conversations about things
like workouts are as natural as breathing. Shame on
me and anyone else who forgets the full-time nature
of playing on this level.
All of us are guilty at one time or another of seeing
athletes as spoiled and pampered. That analogy isn't
altogether without some merit, but it is almost always
stated with no regard for reality.
Watch someone straight-arm a broom stick over their
head while high-stepping backwards over hurdles in
110-degree heat and tell me where the coddling is in
Okay, I know it is a privilege to play Division
I college sports. Precious few college athletes are
later rewarded with big professional dollars, but even
those that aren't know adoration of which most of us
could only dream.
They know the thrill of putting on that uniform,
of having a child seek their autograph and of running
onto a playing field to the roar of thousands. But
they also know 6 a.m., workouts and that summer afternoon
in July. There is a lot more to all of this than meets
the eye and that's true in every sport, not just football.
As someone who played, if you want to call it that,
very small college basketball, I didn't think there
was any way I could appreciate athletes on this level
more than I already did. Then I walked out there last
It'll be a while before I take them for granted
again and it will be a real long while before I can
work up the nerve to criticize a mistake they make
on the field.
Glamour is the tip of this iceberg and there isn't
enough heat in Oklahoma to melt that big part few of
us ever see.
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Kenny Mossman, Associate Athletics Director for
Communications, provides his perspective on Oklahoma
Athletics in his regular column on SoonerSports.com.