Cotton Bowl coaches Bob Stoops and Kevin Sumlin were asked at Wednesday's news conference about what it's been like to battle against each for recruits, considering they're good friends.
Sumlin was an assistant at Oklahoma under Stoops for five seasons. Now that he's become Texas A&M's coach, the two former colleagues have fought — and will continue to fight — for many of the same recruits in Texas.
“I don't know about Kevin, but business is business,” Stoops said. “I mean, we're friends, but you have to do your job. As long as we're not doing anything unethical. We understand that it's just the competitive world that we live in.”
Sumlin added, “There's no doubt. As long as you're not doing anything unethical, you're friends. It's like playing golf: sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. You might get a little upset, but you come back and do it again; that's just the way it is.”
HEUPEL: ‘OUR SCHOOLS SHOULD BE SAFE'
Josh Heupel grew up in a family of educators. His father, Ken, was a football coach; his mother, Cindy was a high school principal and now is an education consultant in Oklahoma.
Heupel, OU's co-offensive coordinator, cares so deeply about the power of education that he established his 14 Foundation, which raises money for a holiday food drive, provides children with Christmas gifts and sponsors summer football camps.
His passion for children and educators — and his efforts to improve their lives — made the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., when a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 26 students and staff members, particularly harrowing for Heupel.
“Ultimately, what we're trying to do is change our state, change our communities, one kid at a time,” Heupel said. “The tragedies that happen across the country ... you're trying to reach kids like that so those tragedies don't happen.”
The idea for Heupel's foundation took root when he was a first-year quarterback at Oklahoma in 1999. He and some teammates visited elementary schools and read to students, and Heupel realized how tough some kids have it.
The 14 Foundation raised enough money this year to provide around 35,000 Thanksgiving meals to families around the state, he said.
“Our schools should be safe,” Heupel said. “When you drop a kid off in the morning, it's a place of education. A place of betterment. You should be able to go and pick those kids up at the end of the day and bring them back home. When that doesn't happen, it's a shock to everyone. Us as a society ... we have to find a way to make our schools safe.”
NEW-LOOK A&M DEFENSE
Much has been said about Texas A&M's offensive impact on the SEC in the Aggies' first year in the league. The Aggies brought a Big 12-style spread to the SEC.
But A&M definitely changed its defense to accommodate SEC-style offenses.
“They've built their defense to play in that league,” said OU co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell. “They get an extra safety down in the box. It's built to stop the run. They blitz a lot. They add an extra hat.
“But they do leave a lot of receivers one-on-one. They're basically challenging your quarterback to beat you. And your receivers.
“They've had a month to study us. I'm sure they look at our strengths and are going to have to defend our strengths, so we may see a little different style from them. But then again, when you play 12 games, it's hard to change too much.”