Mention the phrase “Oklahoma Sooners” to anyone, whether they’re from around here or not, and the topic of sports is sure to come up. Our school’s athletic prowess, particularly in football, is well known far beyond our borders.
Sooner football is so hallowed that, without exception, every season is ushered in with great expectations and lofty predictions. With the team’s spring game under its belt, the topic of autumn Saturdays is already hot on any fan’s mind.
One alum of the College of Liberal Studies is a college football aficionado. George Schroeder, a 2006 Bachelor of Liberal Studies graduate, is a nationally known sports writer and was kind enough to chat recently about the topics of CLS, football and Gordon Riese.
Tell us about your job title and responsibilities.
I’m the sports columnist at the Register-Guard. Although much of our newspaper’s coverage focuses on the University of Oregon and/or Oregon State University (45 miles up the road), I also delve into other things. Basically the job is to opine on issues and to find and write compelling stories.
I’ve covered national championships and NCAA investigations. The job has taken me from the coolest college football stadiums to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing to the lava caves near Bend, Ore. … and so many more.
I’m a frequent contributor to SI.com covering national college sports – mostly football. The job entails keeping up with what’s happening and writing regular columns and features. It occasionally requires travel. I’m sometimes part of the coverage team for BCS championship games and NCAA basketball tournaments.
You were at The Oklahoman from 1999-2007. What were your responsibilities there?
I covered OU football primarily, with oversight coverage of the entire OU athletic department.
What led you to the field of sports journalism to begin with?
I always enjoyed sports and writing. But I didn’t combine the two until midway through my first attempt at college when an ad in the school newspaper advertised for a sports reporter. That stint led to a summer internship with my hometown (Little Rock) newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. And things developed from there.
Why did you want to earn a college degree? Were there career implications?
I was pretty close to completing a degree when I took a full-time job years ago, and then never finished. Something always came up. Then I interviewed for a job and was headed toward being hired when the executive editor decided a degree was, in fact, required for the position.
How did you hear about the OU College of Liberal Studies?
My wife began researching various programs and it led us to OU – about three miles from our front door, and yet I chose the fully online option.
What challenges did you face while working on your degree?
Certainly there were challenges, mostly related to time. I completed 30 or 33 hours in a calendar year. But I found myself far more motivated and determined to succeed than in previous educational experience. Although my job was demanding – it’s not a 40-hour, 9-to-5 thing – the online option for CLS made it doable. I was able to work late at night and to fill the space between work assignments with school assignments.
Much of the CLS course curriculum relies heavily on writing exercises. As a professional writer, did you appreciate that? What was challenging about it?
I’ve often thought the writing-intensive nature of the CLS curriculum played to my strengths. It might have been easier for me than for others coming from a different background. I’m also skilled in reporting/researching, so that part wasn’t as daunting as it might perhaps be to other students. The most challenging part was the amount of time involved, and exploring subject matter that I wasn’t familiar with – but that was also incredibly enjoyable.
As a Sooner in Duck country, how often does the 2006 OU-Oregon football/Gordon Riese debacle get brought up? (sorry, had to ask.)
It came up quite often when I arrived. My previous experience in the Pacific Northwest involved covering that game. When I moved here in August 2007, it seemed to still be fresh on everyone’s minds. I helpfully gave my take, and took some shots at both sides (it was a debacle, but OU wasn’t intentionally cheated out of anything – as some Sooner fans will always believe). Strangely, I took a lot of heat for the column. That’s fine, because it goes with the job description.
There’s been plenty more heat for plenty of other things I’ve written since. One radio talk show caller called me an “Okla-homer,” which I thought was pretty funny. I try to explain, however, that it gets worse – I’m actually from Arkansas. (Just kidding, Arkansas friends; we all know it’s God’s country.)
Any thoughts on the upcoming Sooner football season?
I’m not sure there’s much to be gleaned from spring football. But Landry Jones is back, the roster is loaded (as usual) and there’s probably plenty of motivation based on the disappointment of last season.
I’d have OU atop the Big 12 in my preseason predictions, with a shot to chase the BCS title. … Of course, both of those are fairly standard predictions. I’m not telling anyone anything they don’t already know when I say Bob Stoops has built an elite program. OU is always a safe Top 5 pick. I see no reason for that to be any different in 2012.