NORMAN — Bob Stoops says he didn't even know Landry Jones was headed to California over spring break to work out with quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr.
Time was, a football coach would be offended by a QB seeking outside counsel. But being offended doesn't get you very far in 21st-century big-time athletics.
When a guy who would have been a top-10 NFL Draft pick decides to stick around for a fifth year of college football, you don't sweat the details.
“I didn't know he did it,” Stoops said Tuesday of Jones' five days at Stanford University, March 16-21. “But nothing wrong with that. Why not? Always get any little pointers from anyone you can.”
In the olden days, a quarterback listening to other voices, hiring a lay coach, in the middle of spring practice, would have been a rebellious act. Anti-establishment. A clear affront to the coaches back home.
But in this age of AAU basketball coaches, and personal instructors for preteen athletes, and million-dollar coaching contracts trumped only by the professional riches awaiting some of their players, you shrug it off.
Which is why Stoops says neither he nor offensive coordinator Josh Heupel's pride was hurt by Jones' five days with Whitfield.
“I don't think their pride should be hurt,” Jones said. “You've got Sam (Bradford), Jason (White), Heup. This place has been pretty good at turning out quarterbacks.”
Ah, the OU quarterback lineage. One of Stoops' favorite subjects. Stoops gets a little touchy when he thinks anyone is questioning the Sooners' status as a quarterback factory.
Which makes the California trip seems a little curious. Stoops' coaching staff hasn't exactly been derelict in turning out QBs. Bradford tore up his shoulder in 2009 and still was the No. 1 prize in the NFL Draft.
Why would Jones need extra tutoring?
But this is 2012. Elite athletes leave nothing to chance. Andrew Luck, who everyone keeps saying is the best pro quarterback prospect since John Elway, has worked out with Whitfield. Ben Roethlisberger, with two Super Bowls victories already to his credit, hired Whitfield in 2010 while serving a four-game NFL suspension.
Quarterbacks at the top of their game or trying to get there will cover all bases.
Jones pointed out an indisputable simplicity: He couldn't work out with his OU coaches during spring break, why not work out with someone else who might help him?
Stoops said there are no sensitivity issues. Said that OU's track record at quarterbacks might be “as good as any in the country.”
If Jones wanted to spend his last spring break on footwork and passing techniques, more power to him.
“Why not?” Stoops asked. “I go to pro camps all the time. You never know when you might pick up one or two extra things. Why not share it with coach Heupel? Sometimes you implement it, sometimes you don't. Never hurts.”
Whitfield is known for unorthodox techniques like working out his pupils in the ocean surf and waving brooms at them to simulate a fierce pass rush. Jones never saw the Pacific, but he did experience Whitfield's brooms.
Jones said he worked with Whitfield about four hours a day. The lasting impact might be ball placement.
Jones said he knows he needs to hold the ball higher while he stands in the pocket but hasn't found a comfort zone. Whitfield worked with him extensively on that technique.
“It was fun,” Jones said. “A different look. I've spent a lot of time with coach Heupel. Heup's a great coach. Just a different perspective. I just wanted to get some extra work in. Obviously, there's still things I need to work on, polish up.”
Jones said his coaches were cool with him going, even though Stoops said he didn't know anything about it. Stoops even said he had only heard of Whitfield and didn't know that much about him.
Same with Jones, who via ESPN caught a little of Whitfield's work with Cam Newton. Whitfield contacted Jones' father and suggested he could help Jones. So out to San Francisco they went.
Stoops said he doesn't fear philosophical disagreements between what Jones has been taught at OU and what he was taught out West.
“He seems to be the same old Landry,” Stoops said.
Same old Landry. But not the same old football culture.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.
George Whitfield Jr.
Born: Nov. 23, 1977
Company: Whitfield Athletix, which trains quarterbacks.
Pupils: Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Landry Jones.
Staff: One part-time assistant, one intern.
Cost for services: $200 a day for college QBs.
High school: Massillon, Ohio
College: Went to Youngstown State for a year, transferred to Tiffin when then-Youngstown State coach Jim Tressel suggested Whitfield move to a position other than quarterback.
Pro playing career: Arena football, three years, Chicago, Shreveport, Louisville, Memphis.
Coaching career: One year, Iowa graduate assistant; one year, San Diego Chargers intern.