The current LSU coach and former Oklahoma State coach returned to Oklahoma on Tuesday. The reason? Tiger cornerback Morris Claiborne received the Jim Thorpe Award.
What's it like to be back in the state of Oklahoma?
I love it to be honest with you. As soon as I landed, it was familiar. A familiar face picked me up. So many memories rushed my mind. I enjoyed my time here tremendously as an assistant coach, as a head coach. The thing that stands out here is the strength of the people in Oklahoma. I'm glad to be back.
Have you been back much since leaving OSU?
I have not. I would like to have said that I visited often, but I have not.
You didn't make it back last year when Patrick Peterson, an LSU guy, won this award, did you?
I did not. My eldest son had an emergency appendectomy. His appendix burst. We were watching the Super Bowl, and I said, “What's wrong, Mattie?” He said, “Well, I think I'm a little constipated, Dad.” I said, “Well, go over there and do some ab work or walk around the neighborhood, will ya?” That was what you call great parenting. Then the next morning I'm really looking forward to celebrating Pat's Thorpe Award and I get the call — “Well, he's at the hospital. Looks like it wasn't constipation. His appendix burst.” I spent the next three nights in the hospital with him, not because he needed me to but because maybe I needed to. But I'm very fortunate that I'm able to come back and remember it.
What about the season that Morris had to win this year?
It's an award that's representative of all the right things in college football, and the recipient is a team player, hard worker, not a ready-made guy. He came in not highly recruited. Very talented. Could play offense and defense. And just worked hard. It's very deserving.
LSU is becoming DB U. You might have another winner next year?
I know. My DB coach is here, and he's already thumping his chest over two Thorpe Award winners in a row. And frankly, with Tyrann Mathieu, the Honey Badger, back there, there's certainly a chance that it could be three.