Oklahoma football: Jordan Thomas snubbed from Thorpe Award watch list

NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 12: Cornerback Jordan Thomas
NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 12: Cornerback Jordan Thomas /

Seven Oklahoma football players were named to the preseason watch lists of seven individual national awards last week. That was not a huge surprise. But it was the award watch list that an OU player was left off of that caught Sooner fans off guard.

Oklahoma defensive back Jordan Thomas is a two-time First Team All-Big 12 selection and a preseason candidate for the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Award, which is presented every season to the best defensive player in college football, regardless of position.

When the preseason candidate list for the Jim Thorpe Award was announced on Friday, it was considered somewhat of a no-brainer that Thomas’ name would be one of the 45 players on the list.

The Thorpe Award is named in memory of multi-sport American athlete Jim Thorpe and, since 1986, has been presented to the best defensive back in college football. The award is administered by the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, one more reason to expect that OU’s Thomas would be on the list,

But Thomas is not on the Thorpe Award watch list. It turns out his omission had nothing to do with his on-the-field performance but everything to do with his conduct off of it.

Oklahoma Sooners Football
Oklahoma Sooners Football /

Oklahoma Sooners Football

Eddie Griffin, president of the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, told the Oklahoma City Oklahoman that Thomas’ past arrests and suspensions made him ineligible for the award, based on the principles set forth by the Thorpe Award panel.

“You’ve got to be a great player to win the Thorpe Award,” Griffin told Oklahoman sports columnist Berry Tramel, “but you’ve also got to be a man of character and a community leader.”

Hard to argue the fact that Thomas hasn’t been a model citizen outside of the football sidelines. He was suspended on two occasions in the 2015 season. As a result, he missed the first quarter of the season opener with Akron his sophomore year and the entire game with Tulsa two weeks later.

December that same year, he was arrested and spent the night in the county jail for failing to appear in court on a traffic violation. Then a year ago last summer, Thomas was arrested for public intoxication and interference with police officers after they were called to a fight that had broken out at a campus night spot.

If the Sooners’ outstanding cornerback were the only one to find himself at odds with the Thorpe Award guiding principles, and left out of award consideration as a result, that would be one thing. But Thomas was not alone.

The Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame’s Griffin acknowledged that three other potential candidates were dropped from consideration because of off-the-field issues.