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Emails in on Stoops/Notre Dame, Mangino and OU uniforms

by Berry Tramel Modified: March 27, 2013 at 3:23 pm •  Published: November 20, 2009

The new emails are in, and fans are talking about Mark Mangino, OU uniforms and Bob Stoops going to Notre Dame. Let’s get to it.

Dan: “Although I basically agreed with your column, I think you left out one important fact. Stoops, with his competitive nature, would certainly entertain resurrecting the Notre Dame program. The Oklahomas, Alabamas, Ohio States, etc. all have great traditions, but Notre Dame will always be the Mecca of college football. What other program began its tradition in the early 1900′s? What other program has movies made about it?”

I agree that Notre Dame could appeal to Stoops’ competitive streak. I no longer agree that Notre Dame is the Mecca of college football. It’s still a hallowed place. But Notre Dame has slipped; it’s slipped for more than a decade. Yale slipped. Army slipped. Minnesota slipped. No reason why Notre Dame can’t slip.

Nick: “Berry, you are wrong on two counts: First, calling Boston College a ‘fellow blueblood’ is really a reach. They have never been in the class of the big boys. Except for Doug Flutie, no one outside the state of Massachusetts even thinks of BC. Secondly, it is incorrect to think of Notre Dame as a ‘big-time program.’ Since the departure of Ara Parseghian, there has been five or six years that Notre Dame looked big time, but mostly they resemble a second or third tier team in the Big 12 or the Big Ten. I agree with the writer who recently said Notre Dame needs to quit thinking they are a big time program and start modeling themselves after Northwestern, Stanford and the like.”

Notre Dame hired Frank Leahy in 1941, In the 1920s and ’30s (and 1940), Boston College was as strong as any program in college football. Do I really have to explain stuff this elementary? Do I have to lay it out that when I talk about a 1941 hiring, I will use 1941 standards? Doesn’t everyone understand that Miami once was a sleepy college football program, about where Tulane has been? That Florida State wasn’t even playing football in 1941? Do I really have to explain that? As for Notre Dame being a big-time program, we can debate what that means. But to suggest that Notre Dame pattern itself after Stanford or Northwestern is just silly. Since Parseghian left 36 years ago, Notre Dame has been to 15 BCS (or equivalent) bowl games. In that time frame, Oklahoma has been to 16. OU clearly has the superior program, and Notre Dame has some issues that could prevent it from getting back to the top. As I just said, Notre Dame has slipped. But the idea that Notre Dame is relegated to inferior status is wrong.

Keesee: “I would take the rumor seriously. Brian Kelly of Cincinnati just might not be what the Irish are looking for. Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham and now Charlie Weis. Notre Dame could possibly be looking for a proven winner. That isn’t Kelly on the national level. Notre Dame has that exclusive NBC contract. Lot to protect. Urban Meyer probably won’t leave Florida (fertile recruiting ground where he can get the first choice of players). But in Stoops’ case, a different situation. He isn’t even in dominant position in his own division of the Big 12. That is Texas’. And as long as the recruiting grounds are in the state of Texas, Mack Brown will always have the inside track with the Texas high school coaches. Stoops needs to recruit harder and coach at a higher level to beat Brown. Plus, he has to feed the monster. OU just isn’t a pleasant place to coach if you don’t finish first in the Big 12 South. And with Texas on the rise, it doesn’t look like that is going to consistently occur. Plus, unlike Notre Dame, Oklahoma is a regional Division I school. Notre Dame recruits nationwide. Also, Stoops is a Catholic parochial high school player. Father coached for Mooney. Stoops at Notre Dame has the inside track for any, and every, high school Catholic parochial player, anywhere in the country. Even with Weis, Notre Dame has recently recruited in the top 15 on most high school football evaluation blogs. I wouldn’t discount the rumor. It could happen.”

Well, yes. It could happen. But it cracks me up how one season tilts the world on its axis, in some minds. Texas is on the rose, OU has slipped, so Stoops might want to get the heck out of Norman, since it’s not a pleasant place to coach if you’re not on top. All this 10 months after Stoops played Florida for the national title. And two others things. Brian Kelly is exactly what Notre Dame is looking for. And that Catholic parochial stuff might be the most overrated stuff in sports. This isn’t 1954.

Bob: “Your thoughts on how these things might affect Stoops decision to go to Notre Dame. 1. He is Catholic. 2. It’s closer to Youngstown. 3. Falling further behind in the recruiting war, not only to Texas but losing once guaranteed recruits to other schools, and TCU is making a stronger statement with recruits in the DFW metroplex. 4. He can recruit successfully anywhere in the country from Notre Dame. 5. Tired of reading/hearing about all the negativity on the call-in shows, papers, blogs (although no guarantee it would not happen elsewhere, but he would be king for at least one season). 6. He did not say ‘hell no’ but made reference to the fact that there is not even a job open at Notre Dame.”

OK. I’ll bite. 1. Bob doesn’t strike me as a devout Catholic. He certainly didn’t grow up a big Notre Dame fan. Married a Methodist. 2. Closer to Youngstown is a detriment to the chances. He wants no part of living in the North. He can fly a private jet to Youngstown any time he wants. 3. OU is losing no recruits to TCU. This Johnny Appleseed mentality is really puzzling. 4. Notre Dame’s recruiting prowess is vastly overstated. 5. Stoops does not worry himself — or even bother with — the radio or the internet. And Notre Dame would be 100 times worse. 6. You just asked him if he still beats his wife.

Jim: “I agree, no way Stoops goes to Notre Dame. Two quick thoughts. First, send Joe Castiglione to Notre Dame. Run, Forrest (er, Joe), run! I’ll help load the truck! Second, OU is not Memphis, San Diego State or Oregon (or even Arkansas). Leave the damn uniforms alone. Alabama, USC and even Texas don’t screw with tradition (the main reason to send Forrest/Joe to Notre Dame). We shouldn’t either. The new uniform reeks of the enormously stupid interlocking OU of the ‘80s. It deserves the same fate: the waste heap of (non) history.”

I don’t like the uniforms, either. But Joe C. is an excellent athletic director, and the surest way to make Stoops want to leave is to get rid of Castiglione.

Will: “I have no idea if Notre Dame is going to hire Stoops, Kelly, Johnson, Patterson or perhaps even Gruden or Meyer (who knows). What is clear is that Weis is clearly not Notre Dame’s man to achieve what we strive to achieve at Notre Dame. And that the Notre Dame administration needs to put in the work to find whoever they can to get the job done right. If Stoops is deemed to be that guy, they need to move heaven and earth to get him. Your article is weak, your reasoning is specious. Notre Dame has as much if not more tradition than OU. Furthermore, Stoops’ comments on Notre Dame strike me as diversionary, not a denial. Did he say that should the job become available he would not accept it? Did he say he would be happy to stay in Norman? He’s a smart man, he knows what’s going on. I wouldn’t be shocked if maybe Stoops believes that A) it’s time to move on, B) he might want to try to be named among the greats like Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian and Holtz. It’s true that Stoops attained his own level of excellence, but there is nothing quite like becoming a legend at Notre Dame.”

Can we just be blunt about Notre Dame? It’s a fabulous tradition. It’s got a chance to win and win big. But when you rank college football’s 15 best programs, based not on 2009 teams but best chances for success in the next 15 years, the Irish probably don’t make the cut. Heck, let’s do it. Alabama, Florida, LSU in the SEC. I would put Georgia there, too. OU and Texas. That’s six. USC and Oregon. Eight. Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan (yes, Michigan. A far better job than Notre Dame). That’s 11. Florida State. Twelve. So then you toss the Irish in with schools like Nebraska, Tennessee, Miami, West Virginia, Virginia Tech. Toss them all in a hat and pull out a name. Yes, Notre Dame packs a bigger recruiting punch than most. It also has other issues that drag it down. Like its location. South Bend is not a good college town. It’s not a good town at all. Notre Dame is about the 14th or 15th best job in college football. Like I said, It’s a .583 job.

Gary: “Another thing that I don’t know that a lot of people have thought about is why would a coach take a job where he is only going to be able to win so many games at that school before they get rid of ya? Look at how many wins Holtz had there (100) and they got rid of him before he broke Rockne’s record number of wins (105). Holtz was bought out before he outdid Rockne in number of wins and they’d do the same to Bob.”

I’ve never heard that story, but it’s a wonderful theory. I love crazy conspiracy theories. I never believe them, but I love to hear them.

Greg: “Never a more concise summary of reasons why Big Game Bob will not leave OU until, as I see it, he is at least 62 (can draw social security), the last of his children is 22 (and hopefully, a bright, new college grad), he has won at least one more national championship which he will wave in all detractors’ faces just to show 2000 was not a fluke (and I never thought it was) and as you point out, NEVER on a down note. I perceive the same thing you do. Stoops is a very prideful, confident person about his methodology, and I do not see him leaving on even a 9-4 season like this one.”

Social security? Bob Stoops will make a decision based on when he can draw social security?

Jim: “What makes you think Notre Dame would want Bob Stoops?

Because the Irish is tired of winning 58.3 percent of their games.

Bill: “You left out one important reason, maybe the most important, that Stoops is unlikely to leave OU. Castiglione. He is by far the best AD in the cosmos. When the coaches mesh with the administration, you see a lot of loyalty from the coaches. Plus, Castiglione’s coaches are well compensated.”

I don’t disagree. But I’ve got a question for all the people who claim Joe C. is the best AD in America. How do you know? It’s not a smart-aleck question. I’m curious. How do you know? What’s the criteria? I hear that all time, that Castiglione is a world-class athletic director, and I don’t necessarily disagree. I just wonder how people are judging.

All right, on to uniforms. Mickey: “Who cares about the new uniforms? The OU players’ reaction to their new uniforms explains their less than stellar win-loss record this year. They apparently are more excited about how they look in their new uniforms than how they play. They remind me of a bunch of junior league girls at a style show. Perhaps they could add some ruffles to the sleeves! I would rather see some dirt, blood, sweat, slobber and tears on the uniforms!”

Uh, Mickey. Settle down there big boy. All kinds of fans care about the new uniforms. The players did not stage a rally for the uniforms. They were asked by the media.”

Craig: “Sooner Magic on the uniforms? I would probably let that go. Not much magic in losing four games by 12 points. Besides, Sooner Magic was Switzer’s legacy.”

I agree. Scrap the Sooner Magic.

OK. Now on to Mangino. Brad: “Despite Mangino’s success at KU, he has one win over a Big 12 opponent that finished the season with a winning conference record. Last year over Mizzou.”

Maybe so, but that’s what you have to do at Kansas. Beat the mediocre teams.

John: “This whole Mangino thing has me thinking in several dimensions. If true, how could these player allegations remain under wraps for years? Does it take a losing season to flush them out? If so, is that the way it ought to be? I heard Mark Mayes (I assume he means May) say on the radio that if Mark Mangino had made such comments to him, Mayes would have ‘kicked his fat a**.’ That reminds me of the story of the two guys who were stopped by the highway patrolman for speeding. Driver gets a ticket and a chewing out from the officer, who then goes around the car and slaps the passenger. ‘Why did you do that?’ the passenger asks. Highway patrolman replies ‘because two miles down the road, you would have said to your buddy, “Man, if he had tried that crap with me, I would have kicked his a**!”’”

When Mangino was at OU, we knew he was a hard-core coach who could ride his players hard. But I never heard stories of abuse like those stories coming out of KU. On the other hand, it’s a little fishy that they’re all coming out at once. Like the stuff about the KU parking enforcement. I generally don’t believe in conspiracy theories. But sometimes, they just might have some teeth.

OK, some general football stuff. Bob: “I keep thinking of your articles about the O-line not being important anymore, and am really curious what you think now?”

I never said they weren’t important. I said they weren’t as important as they used to be. And my argument continues to stay solid, for this reason. Everyone admits that OU’s line is blocking OK. They just can’t keep from committing penalties. No one ever said you can win by committing penalties all the time.

Bill: “OU will lose in Lubbock. Why? Don’t know. Here is why I contacted you. I have written to you already probably half a dozen times over the years but under a different name. A few years ago I had a religious experience — yes, I know what you’re thinking — but that changed me. I have always lived and breathed OU football since the days Switzer took over. But back around ’83, ’84, sometime around in there I started realizing I would have dreams about sports during the week of the game. If I dreamed anything about sports of any kind during the week, it seemed OU would win their game. If I didn’t dream sports then OU lost. All this year I’ve been able to call it exactly. I had hopes of having a dream this week but it didn’t come. Therefore, my prediction is that OU will lose to Texas Tech. I sound like a crazy nut case, right? But if I am right I will continue to update you before each game hereafter and next year just to prove my accuracy to you.”

Well, yes, I have to admit. Nut case. Reminds me of almost 30 years ago, when I was a young reporter at the Norman Transcript. I was working the Saturday night shift when some guy called and told our night editor he was high up in the government, and we were selling missiles or some such thing to the Soviet Union or some equally heinous group, and he was tired of sitting on the news and was ready to tell someone. Well, we all thought the guy was nuts, but the night editor had to inform his superiors. So he was told to call in a certain reporter in case the guy showed up, the way he said he would. Trouble was, the regular Saturday night reporter was angry that he was being bypassed for the story. The night editor, thinking quickly on his feet, said the other guy had been in the Green Berets and was better qualified. Of course, the kook never showed up. But Bill, if you really know, let’s start keeping score.

Jeff: “Is it just me or is the reason OU is so good at home is their aggressiveness? OU seems to play a lot less aggressive on the road. Why is that? Shouldn’t your game plan be the same on the road as it is at home? What do you think? Hopefully we will be aggressive for the Tech game.”

You should adjust your game plan to fit the situation. Some of OU’s problem has been too much aggression. OU was way too aggressive at Nebraska.

Joe: “I was reading your blog, and I really like your matchups for the bowl games. So you think ‘Bama will beat Florida for the SEC championship?”

Oh heck, I don’t know. Some weeks I plug Bama in there, other weeks Florida. It’s going to be a fabulous game.

Jason: “I was doing some research and thought I would put together a map of wins and losses in each state that OU has played in under each coach. Keep in mind this is the state the game was played in and not the team. Example: Stoops is 1-2 in the state of Nebraska. Not 1-2 against Nebraska. I did not double check my work, so a few may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure I got it. Bud played in 17 states. Never won in one state: Illinois. Never lost in eight states: Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Louisiana. Not a losing record in any state besides Illinois. Neutral Field: 14-10. Losses in Oklahoma: 10, one tie. Barry played in 17 states. Never won: 0. Never lost in nine states: Hawaii, Colorado, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Iowa. Doesn’t have a losing record in any states. Neutral Field: 18-10-2. Losses in Oklahoma: 10, one tie. Bob played in 16 states. Never won in four states: Oregon, Arizona, Louisiana, Indiana. Never lost in five states: Washington, Kansas, Iowa, Alabama, Kentucky. Neutral field: 17-11. Never played a Big Ten school. Losses in Oklahoma: 3.

I have no idea what this means, but I love football and I love geography. Here’s a good question. Name the states that OU has no chance of ever playing. I would say Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island. That’s about it. I think OU-Boise State would be a good home-and-home series. I think Delaware would make a tremendous addition to the Big East Conference; the Blue Hens should go Division I-A. But those New England states? The Dakotas? I just don’t see it.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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