LAWRENCE, Kan. — It does Bob Stoops no good to give us a full-blown injury report each week. It's in the Oklahoma coach's best interest to provide as little detail as possible about how his players are feeling in regard to their various bumps, bruises and ailments.
Why give opponents that info and ammo, right?
Here's the rub: It's one of the things fans are most concerned about. I'll bet I receive as many emails and tweets about injuries each week than any other subject. Just got another email, actually.
So, an important function of my job is providing an accurate – or accurate-as-possible – injury report during games and then between them. There's an insatiable hunger for it.
And that's where Stoops is not cooperating. He sometimes bristles at injury questions, threatening to not speak with us if that's our line of questioning. Stoops has told us a couple of times that he would update player conditions on Thursdays — a day when he does not make himself available for interviews.
Then there's the nature of what we're told. Stoops has told us each of the past three weeks that “everyone is OK” or none of the conditions is “serious.”
Then we show up each week to see who is actually going to play and who is not. It'd be something if the college game could match the NFL and go to the probable-questionable-doubtful-out system, but I'm sure there are privacy rules preventing that where college kids are concerned.
Brennan Clay is a good example of this Sooners smog screen. He bangs up his shoulder against Ball State. Looks like a stinger.
We're told after the game it's not serious and he should play against Texas. We follow up in the days preceding the Texas game. I specifically recall Stoops saying everyone who played against Ball State would be available against Texas.
Then Clay, who had started the first four games a running back, does not play against the Longhorns.
We then ask about Clay in advance of the Kansas game. Same thing. Everyone's fine. Saturday arrives, and Clay dresses but does not play. Doesn't seem like a depth-chart deal; a teammate said Clay's shoulder was still bothering him.