Two days later ... and Haystack Headquarters is STILL reeling from the news that the '06 college football season will be devoid (or, if you prefer "bereft") of a pair of nice kids who got caught up in the political process which is big-time college athletics.
We're talkin' 'bout Oklahoma Sooner QB Rhett Bomar and USC Trojan special-team maverick Brandon Ting.
Y'see, the Ol' Pitchfork has been following OU football since the days when he was a California pup, learning the differences between a salad fork and a dinner fork -- and how the prongs of a fork are actually called "tynes."
And, Rhett's auto-dealership indiscretions and timecard tomfoolery have cost him a Sooner QB career which might NOT have been as illustrious as the accomplishments of Josh Heupel (national championship in 2000) or Jason White (Heisman Trophy as a junior) or Jack Mildren (who completed 54 passes for 1,818 yards in 1970 ... yup, 33.7 yards per completion) or Nate Hybl (the only Sooner QB to win a Rose Bowl) or Jamelle Holieway (national championship as a freshman ... after Troy Aikman broke his ankle) or J.C. Watts (the Congressman) ... but Bomar would've been "right up there."
For sure, Sooner Schooneristas haven't been this bummed since either A) The Sooner Schooner was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in the '85 Orange Bowl or B) Since Sooner QB Charles Thompson made the cover of S.I. while wearing handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit.
For anyone who watched the Holiday Bowl last Dec., the Bomar ruling might not be all that surprising. With the Sooners clinging to a 17-14 lead against Oregon in the game's final minute, linebacker Clint Ingram made an interception deep in OU territory to kill the Ducks' last-ditch drive.
Ingram was then flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct when he chucked the football into the crowd.
Bomar was then sent out to take a knee to kill the remaining seconds -- yet, after he performed the genuflection with precise knee-to-grass precision, Bomar stood up, spiked the football and walked toward the sideline.
OU was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, thus stopping the clock and requiring the Sooners to take one final snap from inside their own 5-yard line.
That was a classic mini-meltdown ... and the TV cameras captured Stoops with a just-ate-a-plate-of-habaneros look on his face.
It should be noted that Bomar's spike wasn't flagrant -- just a pound-the-ball-to-the-ground (no full windup) slamdown which seemed to say, "F yeah!"
The official who threw the flag COULD have left the hanky in his pocket and allowed the final seconds to tick off the clock, but, maybe what we're dealing with here is one of those "slippery slope" scenarios.
Spiking the ball leads to point-shaving ... which leads to class-cutting ... which leads to booze-guzzling ... which leads to out-of-wedlock, baby-making ... which leads to getting paid for 40-hour work weeks for 5 hours of work.
As it turns out, those will be Renegade Rhett's final snaps at OU -- and that means that we can forget an S.I. cover photo with the caption: "BOMARVELOUS!" ... unless, of course, Rhett transfers to Tulsa and leads the Golden Hurricane to new heights in '07 and '08.
As fate would have it, though, some of Rhett's thunder was stolen when it was reported (on the same day) that Brandon Ting had tested positive for steroids and that he and his twin brother, Ryan (who, apparently, has clean pee ... or wasn't tested ... or uses better masking agents), were leaving the team to focus on their med-school studies.
The story received probably more play than it deserved, only because the Ting Twins -- whom we refer to around Haystack Headquarters as "Hurt Ting" (for punishing tackles) and "Excite Ting" (for dazzling, broken-field running) -- are the sons of Art Ting, the orthopedist with ties to Barry Bonds.
In the eyes of many, it would seem natural to connect the dots -- yet, for the purposes of today, it might be better to remember fondly the connecting of the dots which Dr. Ting skillfully performed more than a decade ago when he sutured my forehead with four stitches (between the eyebrows) after a nasty softball mishap.
The Doc's work with needle, thread and human flesh was professional and totally above-board. For the record, no free samples of HGH, rhino semen, B-12 or shark fin were offered by Dr. Ting and none were requested by me because, well ... a young softballer can usually swing a better deal on the black market (along with black-market riboflavin and black-market niacin).
Hopefully, the latest developments in the Ting Family Tree won't trace back to my California past and the needlework which the Doc performed at no charge 13 years ago. If subpoenaed to testify, well ... there's no telling how I'll testify (I mean, I was merely trying to work the term "subpoena" into the previous sentence).
Bottom line: The sutures were applied and removed with precision and skill -- the Doc knew how to use the tools for "opp-urr-rayy-TING." And, the "no charge" deal had something to do with professional courtesy between he future Mrs. PF7 andHEY!!!
Who's on trial here?
Either way, it's probably a good thing that no one took my suggestion seriously when I said years ago that cheerleaders at the football games QB'ed by Dr. Ting's eldest son, Rich (a reasonably-talented local QB who went to Yale, I think) should hold up a large sign which read: "THROW IT FAR, TING!"
Hey ... wipe that smirk off your face. After all, right now in Norman, OK, they're holding up large signs in their minds which read: "FORGET RHETT!"
Sidebar: In the L.A. Times story of Brandon Ting's positive results, it was noted that Ryan Ting received death threats following the Rose Bowl when he failed to intercept a Vince Young pass late in the game.
Apparently, somebody felt that Ryan should have been "Intercept-TING."
Once these trangressions are forgotten, the future should hold great promise for Rhett and Brandon -- just not before 80,000 fans and the ponies who pull the Sooner Schooner and the horse (Traveler) which Tommy Trojan rides.
Another important lesson: They don't put you on special teams if you're only ordinary. It's because you're special.
Your parents don't give you the first name "Rhett" if you're an ordinary baby.
It's because you're special.
Neverthless, the 2006 season will be a little less-special without these special talents.