Sooners past nightmare hasn't influenced future

We've seen this show before.

This time two years ago, Oklahoma was beaming. Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford announced his intention to return to Oklahoma for his junior season, despite being a possible No. 1 pick.

Tight end Jermaine Gresham, offensive tackle Trent Williams and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy elected to do the same.

Their intentions were clear: national championship or bust.

The Sooners had been denied by Florida in the title game weeks earlier, but looked in position for a second run in 2009.

Fresh off a dominant 48-20 win over 8-4 Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl, linebacker Travis Lewis elected to return for his senior season. Coach Bob Stoops advised both Lewis and receiver Ryan Broyles to stay at Oklahoma.

"I’m coming back to win a national championship," Lewis said. "Anything else would be a disappointment."

Sound familiar? It should.

Even with Broyles, Oklahoma won't look the part of the defending national runner-up that came back for the 2009 season. But one thing is certain, it'll be a whole lot better than the Oklahoma team that finished the 2009 season in the Sun Bowl.

Gresham never made it to the season opener, tearing cartilage in his knee just days before and missing the entire season. Bradford's season was derailed in the first half of the opener when he sprained his AC joint in his throwing shoulder and eventually required surgery.

Williams and McCoy had solid seasons, but with apologies to Ndamukong Suh, offensive and defensive tackles don't win ballgames in the Big 12.

Now, a year after beating Stanford in the Sun Bowl, Lewis is willing to risk injury in the pursuit of the Sooners' first title since 2000.

Despite Gresham and Bradford's serious injuries, both remained first-round picks. Bradford was drafted No. 1 and looks like a favorite for the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Broyles is still undecided, but Stoops' recommendation that he stay has to weigh heavily on the receiver. Considering the past, why wouldn't it?

Lewis wasn't scared, and if Broyles commits to being a Sooner in 2011, you can be sure, any memory of those costly injuries is distant.