Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray is getting much attention these days. Sports Illustrated is the latest to have joined the “Kyler for Everything” bandwagon.
The popular biweekly sports publication has placed the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner on the cover of its 2018-19 College Football Playoff Preview edition. Actually, Murray is one of four different cover subjects featuring the four Playoff participants in regional editions of the special issue.
The fact that Murray is on the SI Playoff edition cover is a very good thing because it means that Oklahoma is one of the four FBS teams that is still in the national championship hunt.
Nevertheless, the idea that the maestro of the college football’s most prolific offense graces a Sports Illustrated cover probably has some Sooner fans cringing just a bit, decrying “Say it ain’t so, Kyler.”
I, for one, am not superstitious enough to believe that appearing on a Sports Illustrated cover has anything to do with success or failure in an upcoming sporting event, but there surprisingly are quite a few who do, and there is some evidence, although circumstantial in nature, to support that concern.
It didn’t work at too well for Baker Mayfield on last year’s Playoff Preview cover, or for Sterling Shepherd on the cover of the SI 2015 CFP Preview issue. The Sooners lost to Georgia and Clemson, respectively, in those two semifinal Playoff appearances.
And then there was the April 4, 2016 issue of Sports Illustrated that featured OU’s Buddy Hield on the cover, with the headline “Baller,” previewing the Final Four. I probably don’t have to remind you what happened after that: Oklahoma suffered one of its worst losses in the history of the program, losing by 44 points, 95-51, to eventual national champion Villanova.
Candidly, though, among college football programs, only Ohio State has appeared on more Sports Illustrated covers than Oklahoma. The Sooners have been featured more than 40 times on an SI cover in the 64 years of the magazine’s existence. And you can safely say that more good has come out of that than anything bad.
It’s fun to note that Oklahoma fans were the cover subject of the first test issue of Sports Illustrated, produced in 1953. That same cover image appeared on the magazine’s 12th issue, on Nov. 1, 1954.