ENID, Okla. —
Okla-homa’s 41-13 loss to Texas A&M should not take away from the legacy of Sooner quarterback Landry Jones.
No, he didn’t win a national championship.
No, he didn’t win the Heisman Trophy.
But he should be compared favorably with Heisman winners Sam Bradford and Jason White.
Jones shattered OU records for:
• Career passing yards: 16,646 to 8,403 for runner-up Bradford.
• Career touchdown passes: 123 to 88 for runner-up Bradford.
• Career victories: 39 to 32 for runner-up Steve Davis.
• Career 300-yard passing games: 27 to 14 for runners-up Bradford and Josh Heupel.
His career winning percentage (as a starter 39-11, .780) is slightly higher than Bradford’s .774 (24-7) and better than Jack Mildren’s 24-9-1 winning percentage of .721.
White had a winning percentage of .871 (27-4-0). Heupel, who took the Sooners to the 2000 national title, was just slightly higher at .800 (20-5).
Jones is only one of four OU quarterbacks to guide the Sooners to three wins over Texas as the starter. The other three are Jimmy Harris, Davis and Jamelle Holieway.
Jones would have been the first OU quarterback to start four winning bowl games had the Sooners beaten the Aggies. Bradford and White were both 0-2 as starters in bowl games. Of course, both of White’s losses came in BCS Championship games. Both of Bradford’s were in BCS bowls, including the 2008 title game.
Jones benefited from being a four-year starter. His 50 career starts were 13 more than Cale Gundy, and 19 more than Bradford and White.
But Jones’ numbers were a tribute to his durability. White tore his ACL twice at OU. Bradford missed most of his final season with shoulder injuries and went out of an eventual loss to Texas Tech in 2007 with a concussion.
Jones never missed a start due to injury.
Jones also shares a common thread with Bradford and White: All three lost to a Heisman Trophy winner in their final bowl game — White to USC’s Matt Leinart in 2004, Bradford to Florida’s Tim Tebow in 2008 and Jones to A&M’s Johnny Manziel this year.
Jones won or shared as many Big 12 championships as Bradford (2) and had one more than White, whose 2003 team was upset by Kansas State in the Big 12 title game.
Did Jones have his bad games?
As a freshman, he threw five interceptions in a 10-3 loss to Nebraska.
As a junior, his two fumbles and two interceptions led to the Sooners being crushed by archrival Oklahoma State 44-10.
As a senior, he had a fumble recovered for a touchdown and an untimely interception which set up another score in a 24-19 loss to Kansas State.
His character, though, was revealed those games. He made no excuses and said the loss was his fault and only his fault. He never ducked the media after a loss or gave sarcastic answers. He didn’t complain when coaches put in the Belldozer for backup Blake Bell.
Jones will be criticized for never taking the Sooners to their preseason expectations.
In 2010, OU was picked sixth in both the AP and coaches polls. They ended up No. 7 (AP) and No. 8 (coaches).
In 2011, the Sooners struggled to a 10-3 record after being picked No. 1 in both polls. They ended up No. 12 (AP) and No. 15 (coaches).
The Sooners were picked No. 4 in both polls this season. They came into the Cotton Bowl ranked No. 11 in the coaches and No. 12 in AP. However, they may not be in the top 15 after the A&M debacle.
That can’t be blamed on Jones, who brought back Sooner Magic in fourth quarter comeback wins over West Virginia, 50-49 and 500 yards in a 51-48 overtime win over Oklahoma State.
What OU didn’t have in the Jones era was a championship defense.
OU led K-State 13-10 going into the final period, but the defense couldn’t stop the Wildcats in the fourth. OU was tied with Notre Dame 13-13 in the fourth quarter, only to see the Irish score 17 unanswered points. Jones wasn’t the one who allowed Johnny Football to have 516 yards in total offense in the A&M loss. It was a very much a game at halftime (A&M 14-13).
Let’s remember him as a winner, both on the field and in character. His charity work (at least two trips to Haiti) wasn’t as publicized as Tebow, but it was just as significant, if not more.
He will be difficult to replace, beginning with next year’s season opener with Louisiana-Monroe Aug. 31.
Campbell is a News & Eagle sports writer.