Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said he’d never spoken to Tom Izzo until after the Oregon officiating debacle in September 2006, when the Sooners were victim of some very questionable calls late in a 34-33 loss to the Ducks.
Izzo, the longtime Michigan State basketball coach, called Stoops to express his dismay with the calls.
“Blankety-blank, bleep, bleep, bleep,” Stoops recalled Izzo saying during that conversation.
“I’ve been a huge fan of his, just watching him, but after that, I’m all for him.”
Although Michigan State didn’t reach the Final Four, Stoops has connections to three of the schools that did. Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez coached Stoops at Iowa many years ago; Stoops was defensive coordinator at Florida before taking the OU job; and his brother Mark is the head football coach at Kentucky.
Also, Wisconsin senior Zach Bohannon’s father, Gordy, was Iowa’s quarterback when Stoops played there in the early 1980s.
“I like all those guys,” Stoops said. “I don’t have any Connecticut ties.”
BOULWARE: BELL AT TIGHT END ‘AWESOME’
Oklahoma tight ends coach Jay Boulware said it’s “awesome” having former quarterback Blake Bell in his meeting room, and that he thinks Bell has a bright future at the position.
“He’s fit in very nicely with our guys, and he’s really excelled at that position,” Boulware said. “He brings an athlete, which is what we’ve always said we really need. We don’t need blockers; we need guys who can run down the field and make plays on the ball, and Blake can do that. He can do it very well.”
Asked about Bell’s attitude throughout the transition, Boulware said it’s been terrific.
“Well, I think every player in collegiate football has a dream,” Boulware said. “We all dream to go to college, start and go to the NFL. So my approach with Blake has been real simple from Day 1. ‘You wanna go to the NFL? This is a spot.’
“It’s not hard to motivate a kid when you use that form, and he has aspirations of going to the next level, and if he keeps working at it, he’ll have a shot. That’s it. He’s self-motivated.”
Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach Jay Norvell, on former Sooner Jalen Saunders’ work ethic:
“We've really made a point to our guys that they will not be on the field in the fall unless they play with that kind of effort. The great thing that Jalen left behind is it wasn't about his numbers. There were other receivers that maybe had more catches but nobody played harder than Jalen. … That's the legacy he leaves here.”
BY JASON KERSEY AND RYAN ABER