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Oklahoma football: Sooners still practice behind closed doors

Although some programs are loosening the rules and allowing fans in for workouts, OU remains shrouded in secrecy, partly because of changes on both sides of the ball.
by Ryan Aber Published: August 13, 2013

— An Oklahoma fan recently took a trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala.

There, he watched college football's behemoth, the winner of three of the last four national championships, practice.

The Crimson Tide paired its Aug. 4 fan day with an open practice at Bryant-Denny Stadium, leaving the Sooner fan with one question: “Why can't we do something like this?”

With Oklahoma going through its first quarterback battle in six seasons, and with changes apparent on defense, Sooners practices remain closed, even while some programs — including Texas — are making practices more open to their fans.

Oklahoma hasn't had any practice sessions open to the public since 2009, when several Sooners practices were open.

Coaches have to balance the desire for secrecy with the good will that comes from opening practices to the public.

“We want (fans) to be able to watch to some degree,” Bob Stoops said in 2009 when he decided to let fans in for a few sessions after initially saying they would be closed. “I feel like we're doing the right things. You want to be able to enjoy it when we can.”

Coaches started gradually shutting out fans as message boards, widespread use of camera phones and other ways of instantly disseminating information came about.

“Most coaches are cutting out all fans at practice,” Texas coach Mack Brown said recently. “They're doing it because of camera phones. You can video, and we can't keep it to just our fans.”

Stoops said before practice started that there could be a gap between when he decides on a starting quarterback — and when that player starts getting the first-team reps in practice — and when the starter is announced.

In the spring, the Sooners were reportedly headed toward a 3-4 defense, but coaches denied that had been set in stone.

Sources said the Sooners spent significant time in Saturday's scrimmage using a three-man front.

Either way, Stoops and his staff have tried to keep plenty of mystery surrounding their schemes on both side of the ball leading into the Aug. 31 opener against Louisiana-Monroe.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Ryan Aber
OU Athletics Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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