TULSA — Last season at Oklahoma’s Caravan stop in Tulsa, Sooners coach Bob Stoops fired shots at the SEC, saying the conference’s mystique and reputation was the result of “propaganda that gets fed to you.”
Thursday, as Stoops returned to the city for this summer’s caravan stop, he wasn’t so controversial.
“Be nice today,” Stoops said starting out his media session. “I got in too much trouble last year at this time of year. You guys got me in all kind of hot water.”
There was still plenty to talk about, especially the recent talk in college football of major schools breaking away to form a “Division IV” and implementing an early signing period.
“You know, it may,” Stoops said about the possibility of a fourth division in NCAA football. “There’s legitimate reasons for it, maybe. Everything evolves —morphs — into certain, you know, what people want. What everybody else feels is the right thing to do for our student-athletes, for what the public wants, on and on and on. So we’ll see. There’s some legitimate reasons it makes sense.”
The change, though, shouldn’t go too far, Stoops said.
“I think the amateur model in what we’ve been doing for such a long time is incredibly positive,” he said. “Look at our TV ratings. So let’s be careful in how we proceed.”
Earlier this week, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, a former Stoops assistant and fellow Youngstown, Ohio, product, had a suggestion that would shake college football.
Instead of just adding an early signing period so high school players didn’t have to wait until February, Pelini suggested doing away with signing periods completely.
“If somebody has offered a kid, let him sign, it’s over,” Pelini told ESPN.com on Wednesday. “That will stop some of the things that are happening — people just throwing out offers, some of them with really no intention of taking a kid.”
Stoops didn’t go that far, although he didn’t openly dismiss the idea.
“I don’t know. I’m not agreeing with it, but there’s probably some merit to that,” Stoops said. “Every young man’s different in his commitment and what he wants.”
So, Stoops said, an early signing period makes sense.
“Because more and more players are coming at mid-year,” Stoops said. “Some people have six (or) eight guys step in at mid year. Well, those high school kids ought to have a chance to sign so they have their moment in the sun and their signing period Dec. 19, 20, whenever that is. Coordinate it around the junior college signing. That, to me, makes the most sense.”
The Sooners had two high school players join the team in January this season—quarterback Justice Hansen and running back Dimitri Flowers.
Some players choose to return to their high schools in February for a signing ceremony while others forego a signing completely.
Before he talked about those issues, though, Stoops still alluded to his comments a year ago.
Last season, the SEC failed to win the national championship for the first time in eight years, and the Sooners whipped Alabama 45-31.
“Not too bad,” Stoops said of the aftermath of those comments. “Nobody had much to say after it.”