NORMAN — ESPN called. Several times. Wanted Bob Stoops over the phone during the South Florida-Connecticut game a week ago. During the NIT tilts from Lloyd Noble Center. During Texas A&M-Texas on Thanksgiving night.
Heck, E-Span probably would have let Stoops filibuster the whole second half of that turkey of a game, since it put Mack Brown on for five minutes of the Bedlam barnburner Saturday night.
But Stoops declined. The whole thing made him squeamish. The whole politick-for-your-football-team trend made him wonder what his business was coming to.
The high road prevailed. But just barely.
The BCS, asked to be a star chamber and declare a winner in the three-way quagmire of the Big 12 South, crowned Oklahoma, at the expense of Texas and Texas Tech.
Texas’ campaign, worthy of Obama’s, swung voters to the Longhorn side. But the cold, hard computer formulas carried the day and put the Sooners in Kansas City for the Big 12 title game.
“Glad to be over with,” Stoops said, sounding more relieved than celebratory. “I don’t think anyone’s been comfortable with this. Been more aggravating than anything.”
Texas, which beat the Sooners 45-35 in October, put on a hard sell to remind voters of that Cotton Bowl verdict. Text-messages to voters before Owen Field was clear of OU’s 65-21 rout of Texas Tech on Nov. 22. Flyovers with banners proclaiming the OU-Texas score, funded by Longhorn alums. Mack’s mug all over ESPN, which has become the national sports stage, the equivalent of the old New York press.
Don’t blame Texas. This isn’t the jelly contest at the county fair.
This is cutthroat business. Big-boy stuff. Jobs and huge money and lifetime status on the line.
But Stoops decided not to enter the fray. After doing the nation’s top sports radio show, ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning last Monday, Stoops said enough is enough.
“When he said, ‘I’m done,’ he didn’t do anymore,” said OU publicist Kenny Mossman.
Stoops could have mounted his own campaign. Could have jumped on with the GameDay crowd and asked exactly how a three-way tie became a two-way tie. Asked why Tech was being thrown out with the bathwater. Asked why Tech was punished for getting clocked by the Sooners, but the Sooners weren’t rewarded for doing the clocking.