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Caravan crowd roars its approval of coach

By John Helsley Published: August 4, 2006

"I said, 'This can't be.' I shut down everything, tuned in to the Sports Animal and ESPN. When it came on, I said, 'Oh man.'

"We've worked so hard to get a clean bill of health from everybody. And this happens."

It was much the same for Barbara Davenport of Oklahoma City. She and husband, Cal, season ticket holders since 1972, have been following the Sooners for years.

"I hate it," Barbara said. "I really do.

"But it doesn't keep me from being a Sooner. I'll go on rooting for them the same as always."

Stoops urged continued support. For the team and for Paul Thompson, already installed as Bomar's replacement.

Then he gave them reason to believe, providing a glimpse from Thursday's first practice, which he left early to join the Caravan.

"I turned around to look out the back of my car and see one final play," Stoops said, "and I saw a 50-yard bomb to Malcolm Kelly from Paul Thompson."

Another roar.

Tillman, a vested Sooner, credited Stoops and athletic director Joe Castiglione for acting swiftly to address the issue.

"You've got to applaud Joe," Tillman said. "You've got to applaud Bob for not letting this thing linger on and becoming a potentially bigger distraction.

"I think by nipping it in the bud right now, it gives them a chance to have the best season they possibly can."

Perhaps all is not lost.

"We've got our coaching staff intact," Maxwell said. "We've still got our team. I'm hoping Paul Thompson can come in and have a breakout year. The kid's got a lot of athletic ability. That's proven.

"(Adrian) Peterson's coming back 100 percent. If the line comes through like we hope, the Big 12 championship is still in the picture. Texas in October ... all I can say is eat more beef." has disabled the comments for this article.

Stoops says he'd help two

Bob Stoops said Rhett Bomar and J.D. Quinn "stung" Oklahoma.

Its team. Its coaches. Surely Sooners fans feel the same way.

Still, Stoops said Thursday that he'd help both players revive their careers elsewhere.

"I will help them," Stoops said. "I'm all for kids and feel, in a way, compassion for them, though they stung us in a big way.

"It's just my nature to be that way. I think all us coaches are that way."

Stoops reiterated that the dismissals of Bomar and Quinn were permanent and that neither would be Sooners again.

He also said both apologized for the actions -- accepting payment not earned -- that led to their departure from the squad. Their actions could draw an NCAA investigation and already have given the program a black eye.

Stoops said Bomar and Quinn seemed remorseful in private conversations.

"I did sense that," Stoops said.

So far, neither Bomar nor Quinn has given any indication of what's in their future. With NCAA suspensions likely, their options are limited.

But when and if either decides to play college football again, Stoops won't stand in the way.

"I would grant them a release and give them opportunity if they wanted to go somewhere else," Stoops said. "We'll see how that works for them.

"We're going to do what we can if they want to choose another path."

By John Helsley


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