DALLAS — Timing is everything, someone once said. Probably a watchmaker. But in the curious case of Dorial Green-Beckham, timing is a wash.
Bob Stoops is sticking out his neck for Green-Beckham. Stoops has brought a big-time player with a checkered past to OU, and you know how I feel. I wouldn’t want my blood pressure to go up every time the phone rings.
Green-Beckham found trouble at Missouri, twice for marijuana-related offenses and once for allegedly pushing a coed down a flight of stairs. If DGB finds more weed trouble in Norman, everyone will shake their head and blame the guy for being a goofball. If DGB has more domestic trouble, it won’t be just Green-Beckham’s butt in a sling. It will be Stoops’s. In part because of the timing.
OU has spent the last few months investigating a Title IX sexual misconduct allegation against linebacker Frank Shannon. The district attorney declined to prosecute, but all schools walk softly under Title IX, since the U.S. Department of Education began probing Florida State for its handling of the Jameis Winston case. The Heisman Trophy quarterback was accused of rape. Under Title IX, a university can lose its federal funding if it fosters a culture of sexual harassment, discrimination, misconduct or assault.
In the wake of the Shannon investigation, OU leadership had to wonder about the wisdom of bringing on Green-Beckham.
“Everything gives you pause, one way or the other, in any of these situations,” Stoops said Tuesday at Big 12 Media Days. “They’re never entered into lightly, regardless of one situation or the other. They’re totally different in scope and everything that’s happened. One incident doesn’t affect the other. In my eyes, they’re two individuals and you try and deal with all situations and circumstances individually.”
Of course, timing also helped DGB’s sojourn to Norman. Upset OSU in Stillwater and stun Alabama, and your rope gets a lot more slack.
Look at what OU’s done since winning the Sugar Bowl. Pulled the trigger on a long-anticipated capital improvement campaign that could cost $400 million. Unveiled alternate uniforms that thrill players and rile fans.
Easier to ask donors for big wads of cash and fans to swallow 21st-century uniforms when you’re coming off a gridiron Mardi Gras than when you’ve just lost a Cotton Bowl 41-13.
Coaches at places like Oklahoma go through changing status. Mostly, what’s-he-done-for-us-lately, followed by he-can-do-no-wrong. Stoops is in one of the latter phases now, so it’s In Bob We Trust.
And Stoops has proven that his second chances often turn out not just fine, but spectacularly. Dusty Dvoracek, Ryan Broyles, Lynn McGruder. Others; some we don’t even know about.
Stoops said he’s taken a flier on DGB because of a relationship formed during recruiting three years ago, when Green-Beckham chose home-state Missouri but gave both OU and OSU a long look. Well, Stoops also is taking a flier because DGB is 6-foot-6, runs like a deer and has all-pro talent. Literally.
But Stoops said he has talked with Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel, OU coaches have talked with Missouri coaches, and all say DGB is worth the risk.
“He and his family, we got to know very well through the entire recruiting process,” Stoops said. “Missouri stated as much, that they believe in him as a young man, the kind of person he is and can be. He has made mistakes but we believe he’s capable of doing the things that are necessary to have a successful collegiate career and represent his family, his self and the university in a positive way.”
No doubt Stoops took this one all the way up the flagpole, to president David Boren. But to Stoops’ credit, he’s not shirking responsibility.
“It comes back to me and to Dorial,” Stoops said, and he’s right. If DGB screws up this chance, he’s betrayed a coach who believes in him.
“In the end, I am not one to easily give up on young people,” Stoops said. “Dorial or anybody else. My coaches will tell you. We have a firm background in discipline. And I have given a lot of our players more than two chances to improve, to do things right and to show that you can grow from this, and be the kind of person and citizen we want you can be.
“I believe Dorial can do that. And I feel strongly that he and all the people we work with deserve that chance, to show they can be that kind of person. Again, I’m not one to give up on kids in a quick way. I never have. Hopefully, he’ll take this opportunity and show everyone the true character and person that he can be and is.”
If Green-Beckham can do that, it’s a success story for him and a home run for Stoops. He’ll have helped a kid turn his life around. A kid who just happens to be a college Calvin Johnson. And if Green-Beckham improbably wins his appeal for immediately eligibility, the loaded Sooners become even more dangerous. Even if DGB has to sit out, there appears to be some kind of undisclosed deal, that he will not declare for the NFL Draft next spring but would indeed play a season for the Sooners. Stoops declined comment, but if there’s no deal, there’s no reason for Stoops not to say so.
If Green-Beckham reveals his true character the wrong way, Stoops looks like a win-at-all-cost coach, despite his past successes in manhood molding.
Bringing in Green-Beckham is high risk, high reward. This story is not likely to end in a wash.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.