NORMAN — Lon Kruger has praised a new NCAA measure allowing basketball coaches time to work with players enrolled in summer school.
Up to two hours a day, eight hours a week, Kruger can condition his players and, on a limited basis, even run on-court drills with them.
“Even more importantly, perhaps, than working with them is that ability to be around them,” Kruger said in June. “Especially with the new guys coming in, to establish that relationship and maintain that contact consistency throughout the summer.”
He spent time with his newcomers, got to know them and could keep an eye on them. Scrimmages are kept more structured, as opposed to pickup games.
Football coach Bob Stoops, on the other hand, remains barred from working with his team during the summer months. Workouts with the strength staff are voluntary, and football activities like 7-on-7 drills and passing trees are organized by the players themselves.
As a result, Stoops was unable to answer questions at Big 12 Media Days regarding any progress made by his young receivers, who the Sooners will likely be forced to rely on after the suspensions of three returning starters.
“We're going to have to see, because we're not able to work with the players in the summer,” Stoops said. “And a lot of these guys are new; some of the young high school receivers we have in, and then with the addition of some junior-college guys.”
Running back Dominique Whaley, who was starting and excelling last season before a severe ankle injury, has been cleared and is running. But Stoops hasn't been able to keep close tabs on his recovery.
“He's out there running and training and I'm not able to work with him,” Stoops said. “So it's a little bit tough.”
Stoops later elaborated on his desire to have more player access during the summer, saying that if they are in school and on scholarship, he is the one held responsible if they get in any trouble.
“You've got room, board and tuition for them,” he said. “Why wouldn't it be just like the winter conditioning, or to some degree have the opportunity to, ‘How are you doing? What's your participation?'
“We're held responsible for them if they go out and have misconduct somewhere. It's our fault.”
Stoops said he thought full-on summer practices would be “overkill,” but that he would like the ability to monitor and condition players.
“You get a chance to see them everyday, encourage them to do the right things, make sure they're going to class,” Stoops said. “I can't even run a guy for missing class. I'm not allowed to.
“That doesn't seem to make much sense.”
Stacey Osborn, associate director of public and media relations for the NCAA, explained the new college basketball summer rules to ESPN.com in June.
“(The board) adopted this rule in January because student-athletes who enroll in summer school, particularly early in their academic careers, tend to experience enhanced academic success during their collegiate enrollment,” she told the website.
If it works for basketball, I don't see why it can't, to some degree, work for football, too.