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Bob Stoops: 'Don't play for a discount'

by Berry Tramel Published: May 31, 2010
Don't play for a discount.'”

This isn't basketball. This isn't the NBA Draft, for which players can declare after only a year in college. Football players are three years removed from high school before they can jump to the NFL.

Which means the players who have no use for a college campus are winnowed out. Most college football players are on a decent degree track after three years. Stay a fourth year, and they're within sight of graduation. That's no small thing.

Stoops trotted out the names of some of his stars who were picked in the second round. Dan Cody. Teddy Lehman. "They're out of the league in four years,” Stoops said. "What everyone doesn't get is the value of that degree. With that degree, you'll have plenty of opportunity to have some kind of profession.

"Without it, you're going to constantly struggle. It's not as easy as people think it is to come back ... not a manageable situation. Think you're coming back at 26 or 27? You may be married. May have a child. It's not easy to come back and go to school full time.”

That fourth year, Stoops says, gets a player closer to maximizing his value and gets a player closer to graduation.

Consider the case of cornerback Dom Franks. Franks had another season of eligibility but declared for the 2010 NFL Draft; he went in the fifth round to the Falcons. Stoops is unswayed by those who argue that Franks wouldn't go much, if any, higher next season and at least is drawing a paycheck for an extra year.

Stoops says the cost of giving up that year's education and a senior season is too severe.

Stoops says he appeals to his players this way: "Think of yourself 30 years old. If you're only here (at OU) to make money and go to the NFL, maximize this thing.

"Those second-round guys, that money's not going to make a difference in anything. Now where are you going? You are here. You gotta go to school. You've already put in three years. One more year, get it (the degree) or get close. Maximize your opportunity.”

And the one valid argument against sticking around — a catastrophic injury — was shot full of holes in Norman. Bradford and Gresham both were felled by grave injuries, yet Gresham's draft status held steady and Bradford's soared all the way to No. 1, where his money probably tripled from what he might have reaped in 2009.

Stoops has a vested interest in keeping his stars on campus. It seems shaky to proclaim him a credible witness. But in this case he's right. Almost all football players are better off delaying entry into the NFL Draft.

Berry Tramel: 405-760-8080; Berry Tramel 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.

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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