NORMAN — As you go to the polls today, participating in the miracle that is American democracy, where even amongst historic gridlock, we still believe, presume and revel in the peaceful transfer or continuity of power, I ask you to vote not as a conservative, liberal, populist, tea partier, bleeding heart or neocon. Instead, vote progressively.
Vote for Bob Stoops.
If he were running.
As is, just appreciate the man’s stance.
Bob Stoops: progressive.
Don’t believe it?
You weren’t high atop Owen Field Monday noon, listening to the Sooner coach let his hair down (or, really, explain how he doesn’t mind his players let their hair down).
It’s been a long time since we actually saw Bob Stoops playing Bob Stoops. So often, it’s Bob Stoops playing stubborn, give-nothing-away, stick-in-the-mud football coach.
However, lightning struck Monday, it all beginning when the coach was asked how he’d feel about having a building named after him … like maybe “The Bob Stoops Press Box.”
The whole room broke up, Stoops included. So, for a few moments, we got to see a little more of the man.
Stoops was asked about Kenny Stills, Tony Jefferson and Brennan Clay, the original California trio on the roster, who walk to the beat of their own drummer, busy themselves with Twitter and look-at-me haircuts, adhere to the new school rather than the old school.
“I think it’s just today’s world,” Stoops said. “I’m trying to stay young with them. If you do everything the same way it was back when, I don’t see it happening.
“I think, more and more kids, as long as they’re responsible, it’s OK. As long as they’re doing the other things, it’s OK.”
That, friends, might not be an answer right of Youngstown.
“When I got here, coaches were asking me if I cared about the length of their hair, care about tattoos, care about a pierced ear,” Stoops said. “As long as they got to class and worked hard and (were) good kids, I don’t care about what they look like. It’s the same as the other stuff. As long as they’re doing it responsibly.”
Listening to him, there were two thoughts.
One, this is good and charming Stoops. This is Stoops as Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, proclaiming “The kids are all right.”
Agree or disagree with him, for a change, he was actually talking about himself. Man, the guy would get a better ride from a nation of sports writers and college football pundits if he offered more of this more often.
Two, you have to feel better about the program knowing this is where Stoops is on such things.
Come to Oklahoma, go about your business the right way and be yourself.
Sounds like a pitch.
“He doesn’t see kids from the outside. He kind of sees them from the inside, what their talent level is, what kind of person they are and I think that’s just a testament to him, that he doesn’t really care where you come from or what kind of tattoos you have, or how you where your hair,” quarterback Landry Jones said.
Some may hear him or read this and have their suspicions confirmed, that Stoops tolerance for individuality is somehow to blame for a rash of discipline issues. But that rash no longer plagues this team and about the sins, whatever they are, that continue to sideline Jaz Reynolds, Trey Franks and Quentin Hayes, there’s no evidence their suspensions are in any way rooted in the trio simply trying to express themselves.
It’s not just that Stoops tolerates it, it’s more like he encourages it, celebrates it.
“Young people have their personalities and characters. To me, that’s what I enjoy about the game,” he said. “They’re all different … They’re all pretty entertaining. Let them be what they want.”
Stoops even explained something about Seth Littrell, the fullback on OU’s last national championship team.
“He had piercings everywhere,” Stoops said. “He was as solid a guy as you can have.”
Today, piercings still in use or not, Littrell is Kevin Wilson’s offensive coordinator at Indiana. The kid’s done all right for himself.
So have Stills, Jefferson and Clay. And so, too, should Sooner football, as long as the head coach understands what’s important and what isn’t.
Clay HorningFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org