Oklahoma Sooner odds ‘n’ ends in a world without sports

MANHATTAN, KS - OCTOBER 26: A general view of a Oklahoma Sooners drum head before a game against the Kansas State Wildcats at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, KS - OCTOBER 26: A general view of a Oklahoma Sooners drum head before a game against the Kansas State Wildcats at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images) /

This is an extraordinary time for all of us. There has never been a time that I can recall in any of our lifetimes when there was no live sports of any kind occurring. And for a diehard Oklahoma Sooner fan — or any fan of college or professional sports, for that matter — it’s almost more than one can take.

Despite this excruciating but highly necessary fact, there is still sports news coming out of the University of Oklahoma, and we want to catch you up on some headlines you might have missed.

Gymnast Maggie Nichols wins AAI Award

For nine consecutive years Oklahoma has had a finalist up for the prestigious AAI Award in women’s gymnastics, and this year an OU gymnast captured it for the first time.

Senior Maggie Nichols is the winner of the 2020 AAI Award presented to the most outstanding senior female gymnast in the country. She was one of six finalists for the award considered the Heisman Trophy of women’s collegiate gymnastics. The annual award is voted on by NCAA women’s gymnastics college head coaches.

Nichols sensational collegiate career at Oklahoma, which was cut short this season by the coronavirus outbreak, included two team national championships and one as a national runner-up, three consecutive regional championships and and three straight Big 12 championships.

She is one of seven collegiate female gymnasts to achieve a score of 39.900 in all-around competition and is the only one with more than one score of 39.900 or better. She is the sixth gymnast in NCAA history to win back-to-back all-around titles in the NCAA Championships.

Nichols is a six-time individual national champion and a six-time individual Big 12 champion and has won an individual title in all four events and the all-around. She has 22 perfect scores in her record-setting career at OU, including two “Gym Slams,” which is securing a perfect score on every event. She did it both as a freshman and as a sophomore.

The Little Canada, Minnesota, native is also a finalist for the 2020 Honda Award, an award that is conferred on the top women’s athlete in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports. Nichols has been a finalist for the Honda Award in gymnastics all for years she has been at Oklahoma. She won the award last year and is hoping to make it two in a row.

Former Sooner football Player Zac Henderson dies

Former Oklahoma football star Zac Henderson died overnight Sunday/Monday at his home in Oklahoma City. He was 64 years old.

Henderson started all four seasons from 1974 to ’77 at free safety for Barry Switzer’s Sooner teams. Berry Tramel, sports columnist for The Oklahoma City Oklahoman reported that Henderson was the “first full-time true freshman starter” for Oklahoma after the NCAA reinstated freshman eligibility in 1972.

Henderson played on Oklahoma’s 1974 and 1975 national championship teams. He was a starter on defense on the undefeated 1974 championship team along with other defensive stars like Lee Roy Selmon, Jimbo Elrod, Rod Shoate, Tony Peters and Randy Hughes.

An All-Big Eight selection three times, Henderson was a unanimous All-American in 1977. His 15 career interceptions is tied for fourth all-time in OU football history and remains the all-time leading tackler among Sooner defensive backs with 299.

Switzer told The Oklahoman’s Tramel  that Henderson started as a true freshman not because OU lacked depth in the defensive backfield but because “he was that good.”

Henderson played one year in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and played four seasons in the Canadian Football League.

OU’s football recruiting loss is Ohio State’s gain

For a while over the weekend, it appeared as if 2021 defensive back prospect Jantzen Dunn had committed to Oklahoma. What made it appear so was that head coach Lincoln Riley had posted an eyeball emoji to his Twitter account, which is what he customarily does when the Sooners are set to announce a recruiting commitment.

The announcement had not been made public, other than by the indication given by Riley’s Twitter posting, and apparently someone on the Ohio State coaching staff noticed what Riley had done and, knowing that Oklahoma was heavily recruiting the four-star Dunn, the Buckeye staff doubled down to see if they could persuade the Bowling Green, Kentucky, high school star otherwise.

The follow-up effort by the Ohio State staff apparently proved to be successful because on Monday Dunn publicly announced his verbal commitment to Ohio State. The Buckeyes, even more so than Oklahoma, are in need of depth at defensive back, which is one reason why they were very familiar with Dunn and had been targeting him.

Dunn, in fact, had committed to Riley and Oklahoma over the weekend before Ohio State jumped in and effected the change of heart.

After this development. it will be interesting to see if Riley alters his means of signaling a recruiting commitment — at least until after which time the recruit has made his intentions public.