I’ve spent nearly the entirety of my 26 years on Earth following the Oklahoma Sooners, using a fine-toothed comb to search through every shred of offseason scoop there is to be had and recently I’ve had the pleasure of sharing that scoop, along with the other fantastic programs in the Big 12 Conference.
That is relevant, because what I am about to say might ruffle some feathers if you bleed Crimson and Cream: booing Spencer Rattler on Owen Field against West Virginia was an awful display by the Sooner Faithful, and the fan base is better than that.
It turns out that his former head coach, Lincoln Riley, was likely the culprit of an offense that seemed stuck in the mud compared to seasons past because his mind was more focused on his escape route from playing in the SEC, rather than the team he was coaching in 2021. In fact, I might be in the minority here, but I hope that Spencer Rattler tears through the SEC this season under Shane Beamer.
ESPN’s Chris Low released a very well-written piece on Friday morning, titled Spencer Rattler gets fresh start with Gamecocks at South Carolina, and it dives a little bit deeper into the former Sooner quarterback’s outlook on 2022 from Columbia, South Carolina.
One of the things that immediately stuck out to me, was that Rattler felt he wasn’t welcome in Norman after the meteoric rise of freshman Caleb Williams became the talk of the town, and he was right to feel that way. When is the last time a Sooner quarterback was booed on his home field? Landry Jones didn’t even get that kind of treatment here. Now, Rattler is starting over in a new place and seems to be happier for it.
“A lot of guys don’t get another chance, to start over where they’re really wanted,” RattIer told ESPN. “I was just happy to get away from a toxic situation and get somewhere new.
“Anywhere was going to be better, and I found the right place.”
One of the reasons that Rattler chose the Gamecocks was Austin Stogner, a fellow Sooner transfer that was also a part of Rattler’s 2019 recruiting class.
“He was like, ‘Spence, man, this place is going to be special. I’m telling you, think about it,'” Rattler said, recalling his conversation with Stogner. “So I took my time, and he was right. This is where I needed to be.”
Stogner was quick to defend his quarterback, and still wonders why fans in Norman turned on the talented five-star signal-caller so quickly.
“When you look at the facts of what happened there with Spencer, it looks a little different than what some people are making it out to be,” Stogner said. “He won big games. He won a conference championship, the kind of things 95% of teams would kill for from their quarterback. It’s crazy how quickly they turned on him.
“But for anybody to say he was a bad teammate doesn’t make any sense to me. I guess he was such a bad teammate that one of his teammates there wanted to go play with him at South Carolina.”
The former Sooner tight end also said that the way that things ended with Riley was “weird” and he just couldn’t believe that it all happened in the span of one night.
“It was weird, all the LSU rumors and Coach Riley never addressed them. It became a distraction for that last game,” Stogner said. “But there was nothing about USC until we were all in the meeting. He kept it under wraps. It’s hard to believe it all happened in 12 hours like he said.
“Either way, it was time for both of us to go even if [Riley] would have stayed, and through it all, I don’t know how Spencer could have handled things any better. He was there every day trying to get better and competing in practice. It’s funny how a 21-year-old handles it a lot better than some of the fans out there on Twitter handle losses.”
There likely won’t ever be a reunion for Rattler and his former home, given the way that things went last season. Rattler didn’t take much time to reflect on it in his conversation with Low, but it appears he won’t let the past define his future at South Carolina.
“That will be a story for later,” Rattler said when asked to explain what he meant by toxicity at Oklahoma last season. “I don’t want to get too in depth with it, but it was out of my control. All I can tell you is that we were undefeated at the time I was benched. We won a championship the year before and were going to win another one. I could go on and on.
“We had a great summer and then once the season started, we had a competitive first couple of games and didn’t play up to par. I just feel like we weren’t given enough time to jell together during the season. Triggers were pulled too quick, and because of that, we lost two games and didn’t win another championship.
“But, like I said, that was out of my control. I gave my all with my teammates and for the real coaches up there.”