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Considering Caleb Williams … again
The game the quarterback's been playing since entering the transfer portal is indecipherable, ill-conceived and if the Sooners are in some kind of bidding war to keep him, they should get out
What are the chances?
What are the chances that, while former Sooner quarterback Spencer Rattler appeared to become the most prominent cautionary tale for losing one’s head in name, image and likeness riches, just one of college football’s newest facets, Caleb Williams may be becoming the most cautionary tale for losing one’s head in all of them.
The transfer portal?
The free agency all of the above make possible should an athlete want them to?
Perhaps that, as well.
Early enrollment isn’t exactly new, but it’s not quite the norm just yet and not so long ago it was dang unusual, so check that, too, because Williams spent last spring in Norman, going through spring drills, even dominating the spring game, rather than attending his final semester at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C.
Reporting, not that there’s been a whole lot of it, has indicated three quite possible destinations for the true freshman quarterback who appeared to do everything right — not leaving Oklahoma when Lincoln Riley left; helping to lead the Sooners past Oregon at the Alamo Bowl; announcing he would enter the transfer portal following the Alamo Bowl because, he said, it was the only way to truly investigate his options without committing NCAA violations — on his way out of Norman, but now appears to be doing everything wrong.
Those three programs are Southern Cal, LSU and Wisconsin and, for what it’s worth, somebody named Jon McNamara, who covers recruiting for BadgerBlitz, part of the Rivals empire, may have just thrown cold water on Wisconsin’s chances.
Perhaps that leaves Southern Cal and LSU and, long shot of long shots, Williams’ possible return to OU.
The thing about that?
At OU, classes began on Jan. 18.
At LSU, they began on Jan. 18.
At Southern Cal, they began way back on Jan. 10.
At OU, the final date to register or add a class without the instructor’s permission is Jan. 21.
At LSU, the final date for adding courses for credit and making section changes was Jan. 27.
At Southern Cal, the last day to register and add classes was Jan. 28.
Perhaps somebody as notable as Williams could receive special treatment, but even if he could, he’d be three weeks behind at Southern Cal and well behind at OU and LSU.
So what the hell is he doing?
The only way he might still be doing everything right would be to have already enrolled somewhere on the sly, without any fanfare, without an announcement and without anybody realizing it’s really him, leaving the joke on all of us for caring so much about something so arbitrarily unimportant in the grand scheme of things as where any 20-year-old young man might be going to school. Of course, that would require his passing himself off as a random Caleb Williams, rather than the Caleb Williams, so forget that possibility, too.
What’s he up to?
This is where I’d tend to write “Great question,” but is it or is it just a sad question?
He was fantastic against Texas.
He was very good against Oregon.
He saved the game against Kansas.
But he’s still all kinds of green.
He was bad at Bedlam.
He was bad at Baylor.
He was terrible at Kansas until he ran one in from long distance and stole the ball out of Kennedy Brooks’ hands.
Now he’s …
• Maybe attending no university at all this spring, meaning wherever he’s playing next season — he has to play somewhere, right? — he’ll have not gone through spring drills when he absolutely should, one year after going through them at OU when he didn’t have to?
• Presuming he can still become a full-time student somewhere this spring, holding out for a fantastic NIL deal, trying to cash in huge before he’s spent even one full season as anybody’s starting quarterback?
• Become the pawn of a domineering father, or mentor, or some shadowy figure he or his family has put their trust in, strategizing how to leverage the best deal available; a deal sure to be lucrative, but just as certain to stunt his development, isolate him from teammates and kill the college experience still available to big-time athletes should they choose to embrace it?
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He appeared to be a great kid and perhaps he is that entirely.
Yet, whatever he’s been doing, even should he announce his destination today with a big smile, even if that destination is a return to Norman, it will not have been a “great” decision, only the best one available after weeks of mismanaging the process.
Now, one almost guesses the Sooners might not take him back, because it’s all about culture and the path Williams has taken since entering the portal may not be worth the hit.
Or this, at least:
If OU’s involved in some NIL bidding war, one it signaled it might be up for in a Jan. 3 statement from athletic director Joe Castiglione and Brent Venables, walk away now.
Sooner football’s better than that.
Or it ought to be under its new head coach, who, but for the unintended smarminess of that statement, appears to be doing a heck of a job.
Just imagine, we thought Rattler to be the Sooner quarterback who couldn’t get his head on straight.