NORMAN — Spencer Tillman believes OU coaches and administrators need introspection.
Jammal Brown went on the radio and said he was “mad as hell.”
Steve Davis thinks Oklahoma’s football problems stem from a “talent recession.”
Several past Sooner greats haven’t shied from criticizing the program they love in the wake of its embarrassing 41-13 Cotton Bowl loss to Texas A&M.
“When you’re 14 years deep in it, it requires a unique coach, a unique administrator, to look at the program and judge it on its face alone,” Tillman said in a telephone interview, referring to coach Bob Stoops’ 14 years as OU’s coach.
Tillman, now the lead studio analyst for CBS Sports’ college football pregame show, played running back on OU’s 1985 national-title team and then eight seasons in the NFL.
“Programs move from concentrations of great things that make them successful to less concentrations of it,” Tillman said. “Whether that’s talent, whether it’s intellectual property in the form of coaches, whether it’s administrators that hold them accountable.
“Whatever it is that made them great, it naturally goes from great areas of concentrations of that stuff to less concentration of it, and all of the sudden, you look up, and you’re not who you once were. I think that’s a little bit of what’s happened to Oklahoma right now.”
Davis quarterbacked Oklahoma to back-to-back national titles in 1974 and 1975, and remains very close to the program. He said the role of a former player is to be supportive, but also call it like he sees it.
Here’s how Davis sees it: The Associated Press crowned its first national champion in 1936. It took Oklahoma 14 years to win its first (1950), five years to win the first of two more (1955, 1956), less than 20 years to win its fourth and fifth titles (1974, 1975), 10 years to win a sixth national title (1985) and 15 years to win its seventh (2000), which is its last national championship.
“If you look in terms of one single national championship, this is the longest stretch of time, 27 seasons,” Davis said. “The past 27 seasons, we’ve won one national championship. We’ve been in the running and been on the big stage many, many times. That is absolutely a positive because we’ve been there as much as anybody.
“But the evidence is in the ability to capture a crown.”
Davis said he’s not ready to declare that there’s a serious foundational problem with Stoops’ program, but that there has been a clear lack of the talent required to win national titles.
“I think this is clearly a time when recruiting has not maybe been as efficient and effective as you might think or might hope,” Davis said. “I think this is clearly a wake-up call. I think coaches recognize, and anyone close to the program that understands football has to understand that we go through these recessions and you have to bear down. There may need to be some casualties, either players or coaches, but those are things that happen across the college landscape on a regular basis.”
Brown won the Outland Trophy as the college football’s best lineman, and played in the 2003 and 2004 national championship games. He joined his former OU teammates Dusty Dvoracek and Teddy Lehman last week on their KREF radio show and expressed his disgust.
“To me, it’s a whole mental thing with the team,” Brown said. “I played there. I know Coach Stoops and those guys can get it done. But the whole mental aspect of our team is gone.
“We don’t got those guys that will play physical. Guys are soft. All of that, it’s just a horrible thing to watch. It don’t even look like OU out there. It looks like a bunch of guys running around.”
During a session with reporters Friday, Stoops declined to respond to the former players’ criticism, but did admit being disappointed by it.
“I don’t know what it is, so I don’t know how to speak to it,” Stoops said. “In the end, it’s not surprising in today’s world. Everybody’s got something to say and a venue to do it.”