Senior defensive tackle Stacy McGee has been reinstated to Oklahoma's football team and is expected to play in Saturday's top-10 home clash with Notre Dame, coach Bob Stoops announced at his Monday news conference.
McGee, a senior from Muskogee, has started 14 games during his career and has been a key member of the defensive tackle rotation since his sophomore season, when the 6-foot-4, 299-pounder started 11 games.
Stoops said there are still no changes on the other suspended players — junior receivers Jaz Reynolds and Trey Franks, and sophomore defensive back Quentin Hayes. They were indefinitely suspended in May and were reinstated for practices only when fall camp began. The Oklahoma defensive line — particularly at tackle — has been in flux since McGee's suspension in mid-August for violating team rules.
Another senior tackle, Casey Walker, didn't play in the Sooners' first two games while he dealt with an undisclosed personal issue. Walker's return has been a big boost to the Sooner defense; last week against Kansas, he recovered a fumble and returned it 45 yards.
Senior defensive end David King has played inside more since McGee's suspension; his reinstatement could mean King's role will be more concrete.
SOONERS HOPE TO ‘STRIPE THE STADIUM'
Landry Jones & Co. wanted a white out.
The OU Athletics Department gave them a “stripe” out.
The athletic department announced Monday that even sections should wear gear that is crimson and odd sections should wear gear that is white for the “Stripe the Stadium.”
Jones was asked his thoughts on a possible white out. His teammates were trying to get fans to wear all white to the Notre Dame-Oklahoma game via Twitter.
“That would be cool if everybody got on board and did it and stuff,” Jones said. “It would make a difference to me, I think. That's huge for our fan base to get behind us. If they did that, that would be great.
“That's just a big home field advantage and the fans do bring an energy to the game. The fans do make it tougher to communicate and do all these different things, especially for away teams. If those fans could come behind us and do a whiteout, that'd be sweet.”
STOOPS REFLECTS ON PREVIOUS MEETINGS WITH IRISH
Stoops reflected Monday on the last time he faced the Fighting Irish: His first season as the Sooners' coach in 1999.
OU traveled to South Bend, Ind., and took a 23-7 lead into halftime. But Notre Dame came from behind to win 34-30. It was Stoops' first loss as a head coach.
“We were up 17 points, and I look around and see a bunch of guys laughing and giggling, and knew, ‘they have no idea,'” Stoops said. “We still have a half to go here, and sure enough, we didn't know how to keep (the lead).
“With the staff, I said, ‘We've got to teach them how to do it.'”
The Sooners had gone 12-22 over the previous three seasons under former coach John Blake, but started Stoops' first season 3-0 and were even ranked in top-25 polls.
“It was a beat-down program,” Stoops said of the squad he inherited.
The Sooners finished 7-5 that season, losing 27-25 to Ole Miss in the Independence Bowl. The next season, of course, Oklahoma went 13-0 and won the national championship.
STOOPS RESPONDS TO EARLY SEASON QUESTIONS
Days after OU lost to Kansas State at home, there developed a popular explanation for the Sooners' struggles: “They just don't have the talent they once did.”
Even former coach Barry Switzer chimed in, telling the Tulsa World, “They just don't have the talent,” and “I'd rather have Tommie Harris as a freshman than a bunch of fifth-year seniors that are average.”
Oklahoma, now ranked No. 8 in the BCS standings and on an impressive three-game win streak, has quieted questions about the talent level since then, though.
The Sooners won at Texas Tech 41-20, and then routed Texas in the Cotton Bowl 63-21 and whipped Kansas 52-7 at home last weekend.
Stoops was asked about some of those early season sentiments.
“I don't buy that,” Stoops said. “Just because Adrian Peterson isn't here, or you don't have a first-round draft pick.
“We don't have Sam Bradford, we've got Landry Jones. Is he going to be the first guy taken in the draft? Maybe not. But he'll be a first-round guy.
“Every year, from year to year, we're not always going to have the first three guys taken in the draft or three of the first four or five. That isn't going to happen every year. We're as talented as about anybody we'll play, overall.”
*Jones named as semifinalist for Davey O'Brien award given to the nation's best quarterback.
*Stoops said that neither wide receiver Trey Metoyer or running back Dom Whaley are injured or in trouble, despite a significant decrease in playing time. “We love them both,” Stoops said.