Frank Shannon won’t play for OU on Saturday against Louisiana Tech, Bob Stoops said Monday. And it’s hard to imagine a scenario by which he would play for the Sooners this season.
“At this point, nothing has changed,” Stoops said. “That situation is unresolved. Therefore I have to proceed with players I know are going to be available. I’m not going to say anything else in regard to that.”
Those who thought Shannon would play for the Sooners this season really haven’t been paying attention. OU suspended him from school after a university panel declared he was guilty of sexual misconduct, as determined by Title IX, a federal law. Shannon sued in district court to be reinstated to school, the district court granted an injunction, restoring him to his previous status. Which means he was free to enroll and was placed back on the football team.
But being on the football team and playing football are two different things. I know of no court order that could require a school to actually play a particular player.
Shannon has been practicing with the Sooners this August, but there never was reason to believe he was going to be included in OU’s plans. When fellow linebacker Jordan Evans said a couple of weeks ago that Shannon had been taking first-team reps, that clearly was a dubious statement. Sort of like Blake Bell saying last week that he hadn’t taken quarterback snaps since the Sugar Bowl preparation, when in fact he had taken quarterback snaps that very day. OU players are coached to say what the powers that be, want them to say.
It’s likely that Evans was just saying what he thought he was supposed to say. But no way was president David Boren going to give the OK for Shannon to play.
In an off-season when tailback Joe Mixon has been charged with slugging an OU coed on Campus Corner and the Sooners brought in troubled Missouri transfer Dorial Green-Beckham, no way was OU going to use a player who university personnel had declared was guilty of sexual misconduct. Shannon had been accused of sexual assault, but the district attorney declined to press charges when the accuser said she didn’t want to testify. Both Shannon and the accuser testified before the OU Title IX board.
University panels are not like juries. They don’t have to be assured beyond a reasonable doubt. They don’t have to be unanimous. And Boren wasn’t going to allow a player who had been found guilty by a university panel to represent the school on its biggest stage. Even if coaches wanted Shannon to play.
I have no idea Stoops’ personal thoughts on this. I know he could use Shannon, OU’s leading tackler last season. The Sooners are a deep team, but they are not loaded at inside linebacker. Two second-year sophomores, Dominique Alexander and Jordan Evans, will start. They are backed by senior Aaron Franklin and walkon Caleb Gastelum. Stoops said veteran Rashod Favors could move over from outside linebacker, if necessary, but Favors is not even listed among the top five outside linebackers.
That’s a precarious situation for a team with designs on a national title. But there never was a doubt on Shannon’s status. He might be enrolled. He might be placed on the team. But he was not going to play football for the Sooners this season.