After a disappointing season, by Sooner standards at least, Coach Bob Stoops was asked about what provides him optimism during day two of Big 12 Media Days. Stoops displayed conviction that one season hasn’t diminished the status of his program.
“Well, a lot gives me optimism, a 17-year background. We’re just a year removed from being in the top ten and winning the Sugar Bowl. So that doesn’t — and then prior to that, there’s been a lot of success and a great track record of success not only from myself, from our administration, from the way we direct this program.
I look around the country. We’re probably not the only team that’s 8-5 or 7-6 and on and on and on. And I look at a track record of 12 of the last 15 years, we’ve had ten or more wins. Now, I don’t think anyone else has done that in the country with that kind of consistency, and that doesn’t dissipate in a year.”
On Joe Mixon’s Return
Oklahoma has received a lot of criticism on the decision not to boot Mixon from the program after last years incident where the promising young running back punched a female student in the face. Coach Stoops was asked why he decided not to distance themselves from Mixon despite the national trend to do so in similar cases of violence against women.
“First, let me say there’s no place for it. It should never happen. There’s not only domestic violence, but there’s violence towards women, there’s violence in general. None of it should be tolerated, and it has been disciplined.
“We disciplined in a certain way depending on the circumstances we have, and these guys have had significant penalties. They’ve had a lot of other internal measures to meet and to stand — to right up to, and if all those were met, then they had the opportunity to redeem themselves and hopefully grow from their experience.
“We also feel that, being an educational institution and the age of these young men, they deserve an opportunity to do that, and it’s our job to help them. But they also know that we have some very high standards for them to meet, and if they’re not met, then they won’t be with us any longer.”
ON LINCOLN RILEY AND A NEW OFFENSIVE SCHEME
The Sooners lacked creativity on offense last season, prompting a change at offensive coordinator position. Bob gave some insight into his thought process in the hiring of Lincoln Riley to install a new, but very familiar, offense.
“Yes, you know, it is. My primary reason is I believe in the offense. It’s what we started with. As you said, we kind of made it popular when I hired Mike from Kentucky from Hal Mumme, and then it spread.
“As I was looking to hire somebody, I looked at what are the top total offenses in the country. I looked at what are the top 15 total offenses in the country. And 6 of the top 13 were from this family of — from Hal Mumme, Mike Leach, however you want to put it, from this family of offense. So I looked back, and I thought, well, here we are. I made it popular 17 years ago, and it worked, and then here 17 years later I’m the only one not doing it.
“I just felt that it will give us more opportunity, hopefully, again, to stay on the field longer, eat up more yards, gain field position, and score points. But we’ve yet to do that. Lincoln’s had a great track record in running this offense, and I believe we’ve got good personnel to go with this style of offense.”
ON THE QUARTERBACK BATTLE
The media widely expects Baker Mayfield to take over the reins in Norman, but with incumbent starter Trevor Knight making the trip to Dallas for Media Days, it left a few rethinking the QB race. Coach Stoops stated that Oklahoma’s current quarterback situation remains a battle.
“The quarterback battle is similar to any other time, when you have — you don’t have a clear-cut guy that just stands out ahead of everyone. So we’ll let it play out. I’m not sure whatever years that would be, but, again, it’s nothing new. When you’ve been in coaching as long as I have, that happens. Again, it just gets down to letting it play out, letting guys continue to compete for it.”
ON PREPARING PLAYERS FOR THE NEXT LEVEL
When questioned whether it’s his job to prepare his players for the National Football League instead of just winning college games, Coach Stoops indicated that he believes it’s a symbiotic relationship.
“I think it’s our job if we’re winning games and the better players you have and developing them the better team you’re going to have, that’s where it begins. By doing that, you are getting them prepared to play in the league.
“Someone showed me, I think in the last five years, we’re like fourth or fifth in the country in number of draft picks. So I guess we’re developing them in a positive way, but it also — so, again, I think, if you’re developing them to be an NFL Draft pick, you’re also developing them to be a player that’s going to play at a winning level for you and your team.
“So I think that comes first, but when you’re doing your job the right way, it leads to being able to be a draft pick as well.”