The Norman Transcript

December 6, 2011

Stoops has plenty to think about

By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Welcome to the December of Sooner football’s discontent.

Bob Stoops is not speaking today.

He speaks every Tuesday at his weekly media luncheon, but not this one, the regular season being complete. It’s probably a good thing, for he may have much to decide.

The question is “What happened?”

From outside the Switzer Center, the best guess is Stoops doesn’t know. Or knows, but doesn’t know why it happened. At least not yet.

You don’t have to go back to the Texas Tech game to question the direction of his stewardship of the program. Instead, you can go back just a couple of weeks, over which many things happened.

Facing its in-state Bedlam rival, for a championship, OU suffered its worst defeat since the 2004 national championship game against USC.

Also, talking afterward, Stoops came off surprised and upset by his team’s apparent offensive game plan, a game plan on which it is assumed he signed off. Unless he signed off an a different game plan, only to have offensive coordinator Josh Heupel go all contrarian on him and decide, by himself, to throw the ball almost every down against the nation’s 93rd-ranked run defense.

Stoops, after the game, also revealed defensive end Ronnell Lewis had been suspended for his failure to adhere to the team’s class attendance policy.

Lewis was hurt, and perhaps could not have played, but even if Lewis knows he’ll be entering the NFL draft and always expected to blow off his academics in time to prepare for the draft, he nonetheless is leaving or risking leaving his teammates in a bowl game lurch.

It’s unknown if Lewis can get healthy in time and back in class often enough to make the trip to the Insight Bowl. But even if he can, he has already let his teammates down.

Then there’s the case of Jaz Reynolds, the Sooners’ second best receiver this season since finally catching his first ball against Missouri. Yet, just when his teammates needed him most, after Ryan Broyles went down and after catching seven balls for 114 yards at Baylor, Reynolds got himself suspended a game for breaking unspecified team rules.

When did Sooner football became amateur hour?

When Stoops finally speaks, when one presumes he will debrief on the Bedlam game with added perspective, it will be most interesting to see if he goes deeper than what happened all the way to why it happened.

It will also be interesting to note if he announces any staff changes, any changing duties among the staff, or if he’s talking about any such moves for the first time after they’ve already taken place.

There’s conjecture Willie Martinez could be jettisoned for the secondary’s big play failings and one must wonder if Heupel may be deemed, in retrospect, not ready for prime time. Anyway, he has to be the only coach Stoops has ever publicly questioned twice, once for forgetting Trey Millard was on the roster at the Fiesta Bowl last season, and again late Saturday night when he seemed to forget he had any ball carriers at all.

Also, as long as Mike Stoops is on the market, there will be questions about the possibility of his returning to Norman. Of course, that possibility puts Brent Venables in a tough spot, deserved or not.

Finally, once upon a time, it was assumed Landry Jones came back to school for one more season to have one more shot at a national championship. Thus, it’s easy to forget he’s only a redshirt junior.

Does he come back again?

Is his draft stock part of his decision-making process? Is his impending matrimony? Is the program better off with his coming back or would it simply prefer to turn the page after a season in which so much went wrong, thereby seeing what Blake Bell can do on first and second down, too.

n Ballot talk: I sent in my Heisman vote at the 11th hour Monday. Robert Griffin III led it off, Andrew Luck placed, and Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, who has run for more yards and more yards per carry than Trent Richardson, showed.

Griffin’s a no-contest.

His passing efficiency rating is higher than every other QB in the race, even Houston’s Case Keenum, who may have Andre Ware to thank for being an afterthought to so many voters.

On top of RGIII’s 36 touchdowns against six interceptions and his 72.4 completion percentage, he has run for 644 yards and nine scores. He’s simply the most dynamic player in the country.

Good enough for me.

n BCMess: I accept Alabama and LSU as the nation’s two best teams, but not as the correct matchup for the BCS title game, because accepting the BCS as your championship arbiter also requires accepting the BCS argument of every game counting and the regular season as a virtual playoff. Well, accept all of that and you can’t accept ’Bama-LSU.

All’s fair in love, war and the jury room, where decisions are sometimes made in the name of justice and rightness rather than the totality of the evidence.

The evidence may point toward ‘Bama being No. 2, but it still ain’t right.

Clay Horning 366-3526 cfhorning@normantranscript.com