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OU Football: Explaining the uncommon patience of Bob Stoops

COMMENTARY — In the cases of Jaz Reynolds and Trey Franks, Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops channels his best Father Flanagan.
by Berry Tramel Published: August 4, 2012

Jaz Reynolds, master of the one-handed circus catch and getting suspended from the Sooner football team, is back on the OU roster, courtesy of a governor's reprieve from Bob Stoops.

But before you label Stoops a win-at-all-cost coach, remember that fellow receiver Trey Franks, master of touching the ball a ton and doing very little with it, is back in the fold, too.

The truth is, most coaches fall somewhere between Dave Bliss and Father Flanagan. They want to win, but they also truly want to help guide wayward lives.

“We all deal with young people that are still growing, maturing, learning,” Stoops said Saturday during OU's 2012 Media Day. “Learning responsibility in all kinds of ways. We do try to be positive influences, guide ‘em, teach ‘em, direct ‘em.”

Of course, some athletes are influenced easier than others. Reynolds is at least a four-time violator of team or university rules. Four times Reynolds has been suspended in less than 36 months, and yet, like Old Mr. Johnson's cat on the porch, Reynolds keeps coming back.

Sometimes, a player can even exasperate the patience of a fan base. I've had little correspondence from OU fans delighted that Reynolds is again a Sooner.

I don't know exactly what Reynolds, Franks or defensive back Quentin Hayes (who also was reinstated) did to get suspended this latest time. But the penalty was administered at the athletic department level, which means it could be anything from a failed drug test to academic misconduct. It wasn't a missed curfew.

Stoops, to his credit, admitted that part of his disciplinary decisions concerns how it affects the team. That doesn't automatically mean the won-loss ledger. Sometimes that means team morale or setting standards.

Which reminds me of Earl Weaver's old theory while managing the Baltimore Orioles. Don't make a rule you wouldn't enforce if Frank Robinson broke it.

These Sooners have a Frank Robinson or two, but they're not Jaz Reynolds or Trey Franks. So I think there's something to Stoops trying to turn these guys into solid citizens.

“We do believe in developing our players,” Stoops said. “We've had a lot of great stories, success stories … people all the time want to get rid of kids. They're still kids. And you want to help them. There's a balance. There's not a better kid in the world than Ryan Broyles. And he didn't start off just lighting it up.”

In Stillwater, OSU coach Mike Gundy said Saturday he hasn't used suspensions much, though as recently as the Fiesta Bowl in January, defensive tackle Christian Littlehead was suspended after being cited for drug paraphernalia.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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