Bob Stoops described Alabama coach Nick Saban as a “very good friend” Monday, saying their relationship goes back a few decades.
Stoops said that when Saban was an assistant coach at Michigan State in the 1980s, he recruited Mike and possibly Mark Stoops when they were playing at Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown, Ohio.
“He would travel through our school and my dad, being an assistant, would be at the school a lot,” Bob Stoops said. “My dad got to know Coach Saban really well. There was a time or two Mark's senior year when he was playing up at Michigan State, Coach Saban and his wife Terry would invite my mother and father and whoever was with them over to his home after the game.”
Bob Stoops also said that when Saban was coaching with the Cleveland Browns, he would go watch the team practice and study its defense.
“That's where it all started,” Stoops said. “Whether we're at different coaches conventions or when we call each other to trade ideas, we've done that. Through the years it has become that way.”
ALEXANDER WITHSTOOD PRESSURE, STAYED COMMITTED TO OU
Linebacker Dominique Alexander has played an important role on Oklahoma's defense this season as a true freshman, and he said sticking with his commitment to OU and trusting its coaches has paid off.
Alexander was originally committed to Arkansas, but switched to OU in November 2012. Several other schools recruited him as a safety.
“The schools that wanted me to play safety were just telling me I could come in and start right away, and that me playing linebacker at OU, I probably wasn't gonna play because they've got that one-linebacker system,” Alexander said. “It's all about trust, and you've just gotta believe your coach.”
OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops experimented with one-linebacker schemes, and sometimes didn't play linebackers at all, late last season in an attempt to combat the Big 12's high-powered spread offenses.
“I was pretty firm with OU,” Alexander said. “I've just gotta pray and believe in God, you know, whatever God tells me to do, me and my family, that's what I'm gonna do.”
OU STILL WORKING ON BAMA GAME PLAN
Co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel wouldn't tip his hand Tuesday when asked about his offensive strategy for the Sooners' Jan. 2 Sugar Bowl matchup with Alabama.
“We used a little bit of everything in the last ballgame,” Heupel said. “Finding who gives us the best chance and the style of offense that gives us the best chance is something we're gonna continue to work through.”
The game plan will probably determine who plays quarterback against the Crimson Tide. If the Sooners choose to attack Alabama with a run-heavy option plan, redshirt freshman Trevor Knight would likely be the guy.
But if OU wants to run a more pass-heavy attack, junior Blake Bell would probably be the better option.
“We'll have a mixture of a little bit of everything heading into the Sugar Bowl and try to give ourselves a chance to win the ballgame,” Heupel said.
Sophomore linebacker Eric Striker, on the Big 12 vs. SEC element to the Sugar Bowl matchup:
“I think that's all talk. Football is football. People get into this SEC-Big 12. … I don't buy into that. … No. Screw it. It's football. The best team's gonna win.”