July has arrived. Time for Bob Stoops to start another firestorm.
In April came the “hungry Sunday” and why players shouldn't be paid.
In May, it was the SEC propaganda line.
In June, Stoops spoke of supporting Mike Gundy's restrictions on Wes Lunt's transfer.
All three times, Stoops made national news, at least in college football circles, proving that when the Oklahoma football coach talks, people listen, even when the Sooners aren't winning big.
But Stoops has clammed up. Declined to talk a couple of weeks ago at the OU caravan in Wichita, Kan., a decision he made before being victimized by a robbery in his home the night before. Stoops even interrupted an interview session with mostly Wichita media and hometown hero Blake Bell, saying his ballplayers couldn't talk, either, as if Bell had been rabble-rousing.
Down in Dallas in June, I asked Stoops why he had become such a lightning rod.
“Come on, you know why,” Stoops said. “This time of year? You guys gotta have something to write about, talk about. It's just this time of year. Everybody blows up whatever they can.”
Well, he's got us there. Talk provocatively in October, and your words might not cross state lines. But in the offseason, when fans still crave football chatter even without football games, anything remotely interesting goes coast to coast.
Stoops' problem is that the more he talks, the shakier his ground becomes.
The paying players? I wrote about it in April. Stoops is rock solid, if for no other reason than the value of a scholarship. Stoops clarified to say he's all for a stipend, so long as it accompanies every athletic scholarship. But have you read the reports on America's student-loan debt? It's more than America's credit-card debt. The pooh-poohing of a full scholarship must end.
The SEC? I blogged about it in May. Stoops has some points about the lower division of the nation's best football conference. But the SEC's upper division is so stout, until a team from some other league wins the national title, you're better off letting any criticism ride. No one wants to hear it.
Supporting Gundy by limiting transfers' options? Stoops basically said it's something he never has done and probably never would do, but he supports his fellow coaches who feel the need to protect their program. Stoops defended the rule that allows coaches to restrict where transferring players can receive a scholarship, saying it deters transfers. Which is nonsense. The rule that requires players to sit out a season deters transfers. Coaches restricting destinations is just punitive. Bullying for bullying sake.
If Stoops keeps up this descent of common sense, there's no telling what he'll say in three weeks at Big 12 Media Days.
“I don't care, to be honest with you,” Stoops said of making news. “I couldn't care less. It has no effect. It just fills up readers. Listen, it feeds what everybody wants to put out there. It's all fluff.”
Maybe so. But like cotton candy, people gorge on such stuff. College football fans thank Stoops for an interesting offseason and add, please don't stop now.
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.