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Coach Bob Stoops challenged on the recruiting trail and the practice field

by Berry Tramel Modified: November 12, 2009 at 9:12 am •  Published: November 11, 2009

NORMAN — Bob Stoops says he doesn’t slam the door behind him and commence to screaming. Doesn’t kick holes in the wall. Doesn’t take out his frustrations on the family pooch.

"Not my style,” Stoops said.

Not even in this most frustrating of football seasons, when the Sooners are a field goal here, a catch there, from being unbeaten instead of on a collision course with the Sun Bowl.

But Stoops’ upper lip doesn’t always stay stiff. He got all fired up Tuesday when asked about blaming his players instead of his staff for the 5-4 start.

"Don’t ask us questions if you don’t want the right answer,” Stoops said.

"Everything’s our fault? If a guy (jumps offside), something’s our fault?”

Stoops came off looking bad, even though he was right. Flozell Adams has been false-starting since he joined the Dallas Cowboys a dozen years ago; does that make Chan Gailey, Dave Campo, Bill Parcells and Wade Phillips all guilty of malpractice?

A coach who accepts all the responsibility is disingenuous and not honoring his covenant with fans. But a coach who throws his ballplayers under the bus never looks good.

"Here’s the problem,” Stoops said. "Don’t ask us questions then. If you want to ask me what went wrong, I’m supposed to say, ‘everything’s our fault?’

"Then I can’t answer questions if you want me to answer truthfully. There are some things players gotta handle, too. It’s always going to be both of us.

"So don’t ask the question if you don’t want the right answer. And don’t go criticizing if we give you the right answer and it is on them.”

Here’s the problem with the whole discussion. Coaches rarely get blamed for the things they should shoulder and always get blamed for the things that don’t matter that much.

Like play-calling. Tons of fans still believe OU lost 10-3 at Nebraska because Kevin Wilson didn’t call the right plays.

Let’s see. The Sooners couldn’t block the Nebraska interior and were playing with a rookie quarterback throwing to overmatched receivers behind a Swiss-cheese offensive line.

The question is not why the Sooners couldn’t crack the Husker 20-yard line. The question is: how in the world did OU ever get close to begin with?

Football is not a chess match.

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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