August 2, 2006 started out like any other day for Rhett Bomar. He woke up, got out of bed and turned on the television. He checked his cell phone for messages and sent out a couple of texts to his teammates to set up plans for the day. The news had not been broken yet.
In just a few short hours he would find out that he was being kicked out of the University of Oklahoma.
News that started on an Internet forum in January 2006 led to the eventual dismissal of Bomar and fellow teammate JD Quinn, after allegations that the two had received improper benefits from the company they worked for and were paid for time they did not work.
Initially, it was all talk, but after Oklahoma was forced to investigate, college officials found the allegations to be true. It left the Sooners’ head coach Bob Stoops with no choice but to release the two students.
“That was a really bad day,” said Bomar. “I knew they had the interview process going on but I was shocked it translated into that.”
The Early Days
Football for a Texas boy is like a fish taking to water. Some things are just born into people, and Bomar is one of those people.
Born and raised in Groesbeck, Texas, a town with a population fewer than 5,000, Bomar was spoon-fed football. His father, Jerry Bomar, was a high school football coach and put his son in the sport at a very young age.
When he wasn’t playing flag football, Bomar was watching it, idolizing players like quarterback Troy Aikman of the Dallas Cowboys, who led his team to three Super Bowls.
“I always liked guys like Favre,” said Bomar, “but the Cowboys were one of my favorite teams.”
By the time he was entering middle school, his father had accepted a job at Grand Prairie High School, a suburb of Dallas, just 12 miles from Texas Stadium.
While at Adams Middle School, Bomar received coaching that only the best could hope for. His father was coaching the Grand Prairie Gophers and had instructed the middle school coaches to get his son prepared.
Adams became one of the few middle schools to run a pass-heavy offense. All of this was to groom the young quarterback.
“I think we were one of the only schools that did that,” said Bomar. “But my dad really wanted to get me ready.”
When Bomar hit high school, everything was set in place. He played the first year on the freshman team, but during his sophomore year he was eligible to play on the varsity team. Bomar took the job and never looked back.
As a sophomore in 2001, Bomar began his aerial assault on high school teams across the Dallas metroplex. Becoming one of the few three-year starters, he began to sling the football in every stadium and run like the best of the duel-threat quarterbacks in the nation.
In 2002, at the end of his junior year, Bomar completed 163 passes with 25 touchdowns and ran for 717 yards. The numbers didn’t lie. Bomar was completing 62 percent of his passes and averaging six yards per rush.
On top of that, he received All-District, All-Metro, and All-State accolades.
“Rhett had lots of talent. He was always better than other players,” said Ryan Johme, long time friend and high school teammate of Bomar. “Some people meet him and think he is cocky, but he is really just shy.”
While that may have been good enough for the scouts, Bomar wasn’t satisfied. He worked that entire summer, becoming quicker, faster and more accurate. Having a father as a coach helped quite a bit too.
Bomar played at a whole new level his senior year. But with two games left in the season, Bomar got injured. At the time his team was 6-2 and was still in the playoff hunt. With their star quarterback injured, Grand Prairie lost their next game and had to win the last game of the season to get into the playoffs.
Bomar decided to play, despite having a hand that was wrapped like a club, and he took the job of free safety.
“Not playing really wasn’t an option to me,” Bomar said. “I had to play.”
Although he had some tackles and even blocked a field goal, the Gophers still lost and missed the playoffs.
With a high school career that most kids only dream of, Bomar was ready for something more. It was time to pick a college.
Bomar was rated No. 1 high school quarterback in the nation his senior year and had his choice of almost any college to attend.
Among his top choices were the University of Texas, University of Oklahoma, and Florida State University. All three schools were known for their top tier programs and producing professional caliber players.
In the end it was Bob Stoops of Oklahoma who won Bomar over.
“I liked Coach Brown [University of Texas],” said Bomar, “but as time went by, I was more comfortable at Oklahoma, especially with the opportunities there.”
Stoops declined to comment on this story.
When Bomar first showed up on Oklahoma’s campus, Jason White was still the quarterback. He had just come off a season where he was awarded the Heisman, and Bomar knew he would not play that year. Instead he would spend the time learning the system and preparing to go to battle for the quarterback job the next year.
After the season was over, Oklahoma went back to the drawing board. With White leaving for the NFL, Bomar and junior Paul Thompson would duel for the starting job.
However, the biggest story of that year wasn’t the quarterback showdown. It was the one that never aired on an episode of Sportscenter or appeared in a newspaper. It was in the fall that Bomar and several other Oklahoma football players were employed by Big Red Sports and Imports, a car dealership in Norman, Oklahoma.
On Aug. 25, 2005, Stoops announced that Thompson had won the job as starting quarterback and Bomar would back him up. Bomar was crushed.
“It really sucked,” said Bomar. “I really felt I should have gotten the job. We battled but in the end he got it.”
A little over a week later on Sept. 3, the Sooners kicked off the season against the TCU Horned Frogs. It was immediately evident that Thompson was not the man for the job, and, on Bomar’s first play from scrimmage, he showed his critics why he was the No. 1 quarterback.
The play was a zone read, a play that the University of Texas was using to perfection. Bomar kept the ball, dodged the defensive end, and ran for a 30-yard gain.
“I was so excited,” Bomar said. “I couldn’t even breathe.”
Oklahoma lost to TCU, and the following Monday Bomar was named the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season.
It wasn’t the glamour that Bomar had hoped for though; the team started 2-3, losing to UCLA and then Texas.
At the end of the season, the Sooners were 7-4 and third in the Big 12. They accepted a bid to the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 29, 2005, to face off against Oregon who was 10-1.
Bomar played spectacularly and won the offensive MVP award. The kid from a small town — who had time and again shown so much talent — finally had a trophy to solidify the statement.
“That was a great feeling,” Bomar said. “All the hard work finally paid off. It was something I’ll always remember.”
Sadly, that would be Bomar’s last good feeling at Oklahoma.
This is part one of a two part series.