Discover more from Oklahoma Columnist, by Clay Horning
Caleb Williams not gone yet and should he leave, it's still not a problem
Of course he visited Southern Cal, of course a couple Trojan quarterbacks were always on their way out of LA, of course Sooners will be all right nonetheless
He’s not gone yet.
Caleb Williams has not shut the door on returning to Oklahoma and, should he, nor is the sky falling on Sooner football for a whole bunch of reasons.
First, let’s see if any reputable reporter reported Williams would indeed be leaving Sooner Nation on a day it was reported by several reputable reporters that Williams had indeed visited Southern Cal, which continues to be coached by Lincoln Riley, on the job since less than 24 hours after his old team lost the Bedlam game and he promised he wouldn’t be the next guy at LSU.
He could be gone by the time you read this, perhaps, yet late, late, late Monday night the only “report” I could find belonged to Sam Mayes, who’s terrific on the radio and who tweeted, “Just received a text from a trusted source saying that Williams has apparently told @OU_Football that he is not returning.”
Not to splice words, but they matter, and while I believe a source told Mayes Williams had “apparently told” the Sooners he’s not coming back, a truck can be driven through words like “apparently.”
Of course, there are more reasons than Mayes’ tweet to believe the Trojans would welcome Williams and their quarterback job’s there for the taking.
Three weeks ago, Kedon Slovis, USC’s quarterback most of this past season, entered the transfer portal and Monday, the guy who took his place in the lineup in early November, after Slovis suffered a leg injury against Arizona State, Jaxson Dart, also entered the transfer portal, which makes all the sense in the world given Williams’ visit to campus.
What it doesn’t do, however, is make Williams gone because, A) did you really expect Williams to not visit Lincoln Riley’s new school as he weighs his options and B) whether Williams chooses the Trojans or not, did you really expect the guy who began the 2021 season as a backup to Slovis — Dart —to not enter the portal?
Why would he think Riley wants him to play for him?
Whether Riley lands Williams or not, he clearly wants him, which could be enough for any Trojan quarterback with the opportunity to play elsewhere to go elsewhere, especially given what ESPN reported Riley to have said on Dec. 18, that he expects a turnover of “about 35” Trojan roster spots before next season begins, a sentiment that could wind up sending many more than 35 Trojans into the portal.
So that’s the world as it really is, at least in the wee hours, post midnight Monday, not so long after it turned out Clemson’s not the only program capable of keeping Alabama from a national championship — Georgia could, too — which is at least a tiny bit of good news for Sooner football.
Now, as an exercise, let’s live in a world in which Williams indeed departs the Sooners for good and shows up somewhere else, hoping to dominate two different spring games, on two different campuses, in back-to-back springs.
In that world, there’s still no reason why OU isn’t right back where it wants to be very quickly.
Can we begin by reminding everybody that Jason White was never the hottest quarterback in America until he played like one, ditto for Sam Bradford, and still both of them were much bigger recruits than Baker Mayfield and all three of them turned out all right?
Also, Dillon Gabriel, 18-8 at Central Florida the last three seasons, has announced he’s transferring to Norman after originally announcing he’d be going to UCLA, probably so he can reunite with Jeff Lebby, OU’s new offensive coordinator, who was UCF’s QBs coach in 2018 and 2019 and the Knights’ offensive coordinator, too, the last of those seasons.
No, Gabriel’s not Williams, but Williams was hardly Williams the last few games he played for Riley, and who’s to say the defense doesn’t takes another big leap next season given the culture change Brent Venables is bound to create and who’s to say, too, the Sooners aren’t right back in the Big 12 title picture and if they’re in that, they’re on the fringes of the playoff discussion, too.
All that and it’s not even required OU have an amazing 2022 season for it to be enjoyed.
To be something to celebrate, all Venables must do is install the culture he’s bringing with him from Clemson in any kind of tangible way and begin the climb.
Bob Stoops went 7-5 in 1999 and could have run for governor, everybody was so happy. Ten wins, total, and a stingy-ish defense will have Sooner fans all kinds of happy next season and all kinds of excited about what’s to come and they’ll be right to feel that way.
If Williams leaves, cool.
He stayed with the team longer than his original head coach did. He stayed with the team longer than Brian Asamoah, Isaiah Thomas, Nik Bonitto or Jadon Haselwood did. If he’s leaving, he will have left the right way.
Also, he might stay.
The Sooners’ future still burns bright either way.