NORMAN — On the day Bob Stoops was hired, Dec. 1, 1998, here's what he said: “I'll not shy away from expectations — I will embrace them. There are no excuses. We're not going to talk about rebuilding.”
Nine months later, after the final scrimmage of preseason drills, here's what Stoops said: “I'm not going to make excuses for them. They played bad and they need to play better.”
Three months after that, almost a year to the day after taking the job and after winning Bedlam to finish off a 7-4 season, here's what Stoops said: “I shy away from (talking about injuries) because I don't want our players to ever have a crutch or an excuse.”
Thirteen years later, here's what Stoops said about the Notre Dame game: “We were just on the wrong side of some judgment calls … I'm not complaining at all. I'm just saying, when you're in a tight game, those decisions are tough to overcome.”
Complaining? No. Excuse-making? Sounds like it to me.
The Sooners lost to Notre Dame not because a flag was thrown late in the first half and a flag stayed in the pocket late. The Sooners lost to Notre Dame not because officials gave Manti Te'o an interception and replay review didn't overturn it. This wasn't Oregon and Gordon Riese.
The Sooners lost to Notre Dame because the Irish were better. They ran the ball and didn't let OU run it. Notre Dame produced a game-changing pass play and OU didn't. The Irish were better in the trenches and better with the ball.
Not by a ton. It was a great, hard-fought football game. But Notre Dame was better.
It wasn't a judgment-call game. Maybe a call to judgment game, but not a judgment-call game.
So why is Stoops making excuses? Why has he slipped from his laudable standard of yesteryear? Stoops is no redneck, but where did his Git-R-Done attitude go?
Is Stoops telling his troops the same thing, that an official's call here or there would have reversed the outcome? I doubt it. So why is he trying to sell us?