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Oklahoma football: Coming in on a load of wood

by Berry Tramel Modified: January 10, 2014 at 2:20 pm •  Published: January 10, 2014

Bob Stoops didn't think the Sooners weren't destitute coming into the Sugar Bowl against Alabama. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Bob Stoops didn't think the Sooners weren't destitute coming into the Sugar Bowl against Alabama. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Bob Stoops likes to defy convention. Likes to swim upstream against common perception. Likes to pretend that things aren’t as they really are.

For instance, the idea that OU football was reeling after that loss to Baylor. Stoops won’t give in to that. Everything was fine, everything was solid, the Sooners just kept plugging away.

The truth is something different. The Sooners kept plugging away, but the idea that OU was on calm seas is silly. Everything was on the table if the Sooner slide had continued. Staff changes. Philosophical changes. Uniform changes. I wouldn’t put anything past possible change.

But OU did turn it around. Three great wins to end the season. At K-State. At Stillwater. Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. And now the world looks different.

So Stoops comes from a position of strength when he takes umbrage at how troublesome the times seemed a few weeks ago.

Which led to one of the best quotations of the Stoops era.

During the Sugar Bowl postgame press conference, Stoops took up for his squad and said, “We weren’t coming in on a load of wood.”

What a great phrase. A load of wood. Think “The Waltons.” Think sawmills and lumber trucks. Think people sawing down trees and cutting up wood, be it for fire kindling or house building, then delivering them for a payday. Think hardscrabble existence. Think just finding a way to scrape by.

That’s what Stoops meant. The Sooners weren’t destitute. They weren’t just trying to survive. They came into the Sugar Bowl with a proud tradition, a proud attitude and a couple of nifty victories that frankly rivaled any Alabama had all season.

I don’t know where Stoops learned the phrase. Maybe he heard it growing up in Youngstown. Eastern Ohio has some great wooded areas. I’ll bet Youngstown has seen its share of a load of wood, even if Stoops hasn’t.

So while Stoops way overplays the stability of where Sooner football was in mid-November, his defiance is understandable. Especially when he tops it off with a phrase like “coming in on a load of wood.”

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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