College Rewind

Saturday NCAA football recap: Blowout loss for TCU; major victories for Georgia, USC, Clemson, Ohio State

Baker Mayfield is an unstoppable force right now. Brett Deering/Getty Images

Taking a look back at the weekend in college football:

Oklahoma 41, TCU 17

Heisman frontrunner Baker Mayfield led the Sooners to a blowout victory over TCU, throwing four touchdown passes in Saturday’s game. The Horned Frogs were unable to get their offense moving in the first quarter and were subsequently shut out the entire second half of the game. Kenny Hill threw two touchdown passes in the second quarter, leaving the score at 24-17 at the half, but the Sooners sealed their fate in the second half. The 41 points for Oklahoma are the most TCU has allowed all season. Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said, "I'm really proud of our group for not listening to the entire narrative across the country that we shouldn't be playing this championship game and all that mess." The the Big 12 champions wait to learn who their opponent will be and in which national semi-final game.

USC 31, Stanford 28

The Pac-12 championship game was nothing short of a battle at Levi’s stadium on Friday. USC sophomore Michael Pittman Jr. made seven receptions and one score for 146 yards, including a 54-yard pass from Sam Darnold who paved the way to a championship win for the Trojans. The sophomore quarterback was 17 of 24 for 325 yards, completing scoring passes to both Pittman and Tyler Vaughns. Stanford coach David Shaw said “The bottom line is we had opportunities and we didn't make enough plays.” Both teams await their bowl bids on Sunday.

Clemson 38, Miami 3

Kelly Bryant left it all on the field in Saturday’s ACC championship matchup against Miami. Bryant set a championship game record by completing his first 15 passes, forcing aside concerns that he could not live up to the standard set by Clemson icon Deshaun Watson. Bryant was 23 of 29 for 252 yards, with one touchdown pass and one running score. With their choice of bowl game sites, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney left no doubt about his choice. “Get ready, Sugar Bowl,” he yelled. “Here we come.”

Georgia 28, Auburn 7

Just three weeks after an embarrassing loss to Auburn, Georgia handed out a brutal beating of their own on Saturday, winning the Southeastern Conference championship in a blowout 28-7 game. With this victory Georgia claimed its first SEC title since 2005. Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm was 16 of 22 with 183 yards and two scores for the Bulldogs. Auburn scored once in the first quarter before being completely shut out the remainder of the game.

Ohio State 27, Wisconsin 21

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett dazzled in Saturday’s Big Ten championship matchup against Wisconsin. Just six days after surgery, Barrett threw two touchdown passes, ran for another and led the Buckeyes to their first Big Ten title since 2014. Ohio State coach, Urban Meyer said, “We have two wins over two

top-four teams and another one over a team ranked 12th or 13th. We're a conference champion and we deserve a shot.” The Buckeyes find out where they’re headed next on Sunday.

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Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March. Photo via: NRG Park/Facebook

Football players, coaches and general managers have come and gone, but only one person has been running the business side of the Texans, well, even before they were the Texans. Jamey Rootes has been President of the Houston Texans since 1999, when an NFL team in Houston was still just a gleam in owner Bob McNair's eyes. That's before the team adopted the name "Texans" in 2000, before there was NRG Stadium, which opened as Reliant Stadium in 2000, and before they became serial champs of the AFC South, six titles between 2011-2019.

The precise date was Oct. 6, 1999 when NFL owners voted 29-0 to award the NFL's 32nd and newest franchise to Houston. Not only that, Houston was awarded the 2004 Super Bowl. Rootes, 34 years old with no NFL experience, had his work cut out for him. Before taking the job in Houston, Rootes was team president, general manager and CEO of selling peanuts and popcorn for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

Major League Soccer, with all due respect, is not nearly a national obsession like the National Football League.

"I wasn't intimidated," Rootes said. "There's a quote that I love, 'Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.' I've always been a purpose-driven person. As for the step up to the NFL, I went from knowing nothing at the start of my time in Columbus to five years later thinking, OK, I've got this sports thing down. Actually, I had a very significant reduction in my responsibilities in Houston. When I was in Columbus, I ran the stadium, I ran the team's business, I was the general manager so I did the talent side of it, too. When I came to Houston, all I had to do was the business, so that was great."

Rootes has captured his remarkable journey from the soccer team at Clemson to grad school at Indiana University to the business world at IBM and Proctor & Gamble to the Clemson Crew, to ultimately being named President of the Houston Texans in his new book, The Winning Game Plan: A Proven Leadership Playbook for Continuous Business Success, available next week.

I've known Rootes from his day one with the Texans, but I still had to ask: everybody knows what the general manager does, and what the head coach does. What exactly does the President of an NFL team worth $3.3 billion do?

"I like to use the parallel of a pharmaceutical company to describe my job. There are two sides to that company. First you put scientists in one building and you leave them alone. They create products, which is what our football team is. The football side has a coach and general manager and all the people who prepare the team to play on Sunday. But getting that product to market is done by the business side, traditional business disciplines. Those are the things that fall to me. Basically, everything between the white lines is run by the football side. Everything outside of those lines, I do," Rootes said.

Between 1999 and 2002, when the Texans played their first game (let the record show the Texans defeated the Dallas Cowboy, 19-10), the team was essentially a massive start-up project. First orders of business for Rootes involved building a new stadium, developing relationships with suppliers, contractors and government officials, preparing for a Super Bowl and, most important, developing a relationship with fans.

Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March, but it's really an accumulation of lessons learned and behind-the-scenes stories about building the Texans from scratch into one of the most admired and valuable franchises in all of sports.

"I've always been a meticulous note-taker. I've kept every presentation I've ever done. I took all of my notes and concepts and put those down on paper," Rootes said. "To be a good leader, you need a wild imagination. You can show me a blank piece of paper, but I don't see it as blank. To me, it's a finished product that hasn't been created yet," Rootes said.

Rootes lays out his leadership strategy in seven chapters: Are You a Manager or a Leader, Get the Right People on Your Team, Build a Winning Culture, Create Raving Fans, a Winning Playbook for Adversity and Success, Your Leadership Playbook and Play to Win.

He learned lesson No. 1 the hard way. A friend once counseled Rootes, "your staff doesn't like the way you're all up in their business, you need to back off." Rootes took that advice to heart.

"It was an epiphany. I wasn't a leader. That's when I truly began thinking about leadership. I say this all the time, I don't do anything. All I do is create an environment where exceptional people can be their very best self. I know what's going on. I'm fully informed. I leave every game day exhausted. I get there early. I do the things I need to do. I kiss babies. I shake hands. I present checks. I entertain clients. I'm dialed in. It absolutely wears me out because I love this organization so much. I am so proud of what we've been able to do for this great city of Houston."

I asked Rootes, as someone who lives for Game Day and a packed NRG Stadium, are you devastated by 2020, the year of COVID-19 and small crowds limited by Centers for Disease Control guidelines?

"I don't look at it that way. I think there's a song by 10,000 Maniacs that said, these are the days that you'll remember. I told my staff, I know you're all going through hell right now, but later on in life, you'll talk about this year. Things that are important are memorable, for the positive and those things that leave a scar. You learn from adversity and you're a better person for enduring it. Victor Frankl said 'We can discover meaning in life in three different ways, by creating a work or doing a deed, experiencing something or encountering someone, and by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.' Suffering is part of life. He should know, he survived a Nazi concentration camp," Rootes said.

H-E-B President Scott McClelland wrote the forward to The Winning Game Plan. Rootes dedicates the book to late Texans owner Bob McNair. Rootes' book is a fun read. All I kept thinking was, where was this book when I needed it? And before you buy too much into Rootes as a leader, consider that Rootes admits that he had to ask for wife Melissa's permission before he could accept the Texans job.

Personal note: I believe that a big part of leadership is the ability to keep a promise. Several years ago, I was riding my bicycle with my dog Lilly on a leash. It was the only way I could keep up with her. Well, one time Lilly saw a squirrel and pulled me off my bicycle. I tumbled a few times and rolled next to the curb. When I looked up, there was Jamey Rootes. I told him, "There's no need for you to tell anybody about this." He never said a word.

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