NORMAN — College athletic departments have long footed the bill for football players’ tuition, room and board in the summer without demanding anything in return during those months.
That’s just one reason why Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is pleased with recently amended NCAA bylaws that now allow coaches to require players to participate in eight hours per week of conditioning, weight training and film study during the summer. Coaches can also participate in those activities, whereas before, they were prohibited from contacting players in the summer.
“We won’t change much,” Stoops told The Oklahoman last week in an exclusive interview. “You know what the nice part is? If I’ve got a guy who continually skips class, I can go out and run them for it. A couple years ago, I went out there to grab a guy for missing so many classes, and they told me I wasn’t allowed to.
“So we’re paying his way here to go to summer school, and he can skip class all week? And I can’t do anything? And then it’s my fault if he gets an ‘F’?”
Previously, NCAA rules stipulated that summer workouts for major college football programs had to be voluntary, and that any lack of participation wasn’t punishable.
Stoops said he’s had several players over the years who didn’t participate in summer workouts, and the consequences came in the form of early season injuries and falling behind other players who used the summer to get bigger, stronger and faster.
Stoops added that it will also be nice to interact in positive ways with players during the summer.
“At the end of the day, you’ve gotta be able to have some kind of say on your players,” Stoops said. “Or just to stop in and watch a workout. Not to penalize or find problems, but just to put your arm around a kid. Motivate them. Make them feel good.
“Why wouldn’t I be able to go over there, put my arm around a guy and talk to them about whatever’s going on? Now you can do that.”
As far as day-to-day activities during the summer, Stoops doesn’t expect much to change. He said Jerry Schmidt and his strength and conditioning staff will still supervise and lead summer workouts, and he doesn’t expect that he or his assistants will be out there every single day.
Another major benefit for Stoops? The ability to spend a couple hours a week studying film with incoming players.
“I don’t see it benefiting juniors, seniors, our guys sitting in the room with them evaluating tape; we do that constantly throughout the spring,” Stoops said. “It’d be redundant. But for freshman, or incoming junior-college guys, it’s a great advantage to be able to start them getting to understand terminology and specifics of what you want them to do.”