by Justin C. Cliburn
The draft is two days away. To refresh, the 2014 OIL draft will be held at 1500 on Sunday at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill in Bricktown Oklahoma City. Remember to show up early, meet up on the second floor, and bring an internet-connected device to draft with. Guys that can't make it, know that you're okay. You can draft online from wherever you are.
This year is special for two reasons: 1. we are testing a new venue; 2. this is the first year the OIL2 will join us. Toby Keith's in Bricktown is by far the best location we've held a draft party. They'll give us a free burger with military ID, and it's half-price domestic beer starting at 1500.
The OIL2 was started because so many former SECFOR guys asked Commissioner Cliburn for a spot in the OIL whenever a spot opened up. But, let's face it, there wasn't going to be a spot come open. Why would anyone leave? The league is fantastic. We have our own website, league logo, team logos, oral history and rivalries. It's been the main way we keep in touch with each other. And that's why I wanted to expand. After seeing all the guys at Killman's funeral, I wanted to ensure I kept in touch with more of the guys. I knew how I'd kept in touch with you guys, so my default was to propose the same thing for 14 more.
Nick Reed is the commissioner. Original OklahomIraqi James Peacock makes his return. SECFOR commander Charlie Neely has agreed to play in the dirt with us grunts. Brosh is coming from Marlow to be at the draft. Musselman is drafting from Hawai'i, Nye from Ohio. Schuster has been on deck for the OIL for three years. He's now in the OIL2, among others.
It will take a while for the OIL2 to evolve into what the OIL has become. It's an entirely new set of managers, team names, and blank slate of rivalries. It took nine years for the OIL to develop natural rivalries, team logos, team uniforms, and established franchises. But the OIL2 is starting exactly as the OIL did: with nothing but guys on that 2006 Iraq mission. That common bond will keep the league together. It will grow and evolve. In the meantime, OIL2 managers, be thinking of a permanent team name and logo ideas.
The draft is a time to get together, talk trash, reconnect and make new memories. But it's also the most important day of the season. A good draft can't win you the league, but a bad draft can lose you the league. The first season took place in Iraq, and no one was able to draft their own team. In 2007, Morgan's draft was so good he won the league without making any add/drops the entire season. Of course, we know that was dumb luck.
In 2008, Bruesch drafted Tom Brady in the first round. Brady went down in week one and was lost for the season. But Bruesch took a chance on Aaron Rodgers in the 12th round and went on to win the league.
In 2010, Cliburn's draft catapulted him to a 12-1 regular season record and OIL Bowl victory. The Arrogant Americans hit the jackpot on each of their first seven picks, including Darren Sproles in the fifth round and Arian Foster in the sixth. Those first seven picks overshadowed a pedestrian back half of the draft. But that's all he needed.
In 2011, Bruesch once again lost his first round pick to injury when Jamaal Charles tore his ACL. But Bruesch's draft had depth. He snagged an in-his-prime Steven Jackson in the second roung and Drew Brees in the third. Rather than panicking at RB, Bruesch plugged his ninth-round pick (Jonathan Stewart) into the lineup, picked up Laurent Robinson off the waiver wire and got an amazing season from draft picks Jordy Nelson, Julio Jones, Anquan Boldin, Pierre Garcon, and Jason Witten.
The following season, Cliburn took a risk on Peyton Manning in the sixth round after he'd missed the entire previous season to a neck injury. Manning and 2012 draft picks Darren Sproles and Antonio Brown led the Americans to their second OIL championship.
And, last season, Cobb overcame losing his first round pick (Arian Foster) to injury early in the season. He drafted Peyton Manning in the third. His third-leading scorer was his 17th round pick: Julian Edelman. His two starting RBs in the OIL Bowl were selected in the seventh and ninth rounds (Reshard Mendenhall and Bilal Freaking Powell). Draft picks Andre Johnson, Michael Floyd, Wes Welker and Steve Smith provided the every week points he needed to overcome a weak RB corps. When Cobb beat Cliburn in the 2013 OIL Bowl, he did it with a deep draft class that didn't look impressive on paper. But it produced, and Cobb won his first championship.
The 2013 draft had the opposite effect for Pyle. Ray Rice, Julio Jones, Maurice Jones-Drew, Mike Wallace, Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Vick, and Joe Flacco all disappointed either due to injury or general incompetence. Pyle is a former champion and a great in-season manager. But no amount of in-season management could overcome that draft. There are other examples through the years of a draft losing it for its owner, but Pyle's 2013 draft is the most recent and most glaring example. Don't expect Pyle to repeat it.
Duffy, Jessen, and Leal routinely have great drafts, but they haven't broken through to win a title yet. But their drafts always put them in a position to compete while others seem to lose the league on draft day every other year. Maybe this is the year one of them rides a strong draft to an OIL Bowl championship.
The other managers to never win the championship? Baldwin; Finch; Henderson; Schmidt; and Trovillo. Is this their year? They'd like to think so.
Either way, draft day will start the ninth season of the OIL. It will be good to visit with everyone Sunday, but I'm really looking forward to next season. The 2015 draft will be the 10th season of the OIL and the unofficial 10-year reunion for the SECFOR guys. This draft day will be a dress rehearsal for next year's. We have to do it big for the 10th season, so start thinking of ideas now. And clear your calendars, guys. It's going to be amazing.