The Norman Transcript

April 15, 2014

Could it be, a nicer gentler Stoops?

By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — My favorite line from the spring game — Is the Red/White a thing of the past; is it just “spring game’ now? I digress — was the last one Bob Stoops offered during his series of conversations with Ron Thulin and Dave Lapham, the play-by-play and color voices for Saturday’s broadcast.

Thulin and Lapham had just wished Stoops the best of luck for the coming season, almost like they were rooting for the guy, and Stoops responded with seemingly equal enthusiasm.

“I sure appreciate it,” he said. “Ron, Dave, you guys are great professionals and it’s always great to work with you.”

All right, I’ve been to a lot of games and a lot of press conferences and while he hasn’t always been so helpful (at all), I’ve always appreciated Stoops’ penchant for not taking things personally. And yet, I’m still waiting for the same kind of professional salute.

And, if not for me, how about one for our own John Shinn, The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel or, before he hung up his keyboard, at least for regular use, the Tulsa World’s Dave Sittler?

Although, truth be told, all of us would probably prefer about 15 minutes once he gets off the microphone each in-season Monday at his press luncheon.

Yes, we’re having a little bit of fun, here. 

We’re used to seeing Stoops play things close to the vest; used to hearing him protect his players from the slings and arrows of the knights of the keyboard; used to him qualifying so many answers with phrases like, “to a degree.” But what we’re not used to is an exchange that gregarious with anybody there to cover his team.

A sign of the times?

First OU gets past Iowa State, then upsets Kansas State, then Oklahoma State, then, OMG, Alabama.

Then Stoops and his coaches close strong on National Signing Day, get Blake Bell to accept a position change, get Baker Mayfield dropping into their lap and enjoy a productive spring.

Then OU, with Stoops’ willingness, puts the spring game on television, Stoops accepts wearing a microphone at the game and couldn’t be nicer to the guys in the booth?

If only it holds.

If only he keeps it going through the first week of the season.

If only he keeps it going after the first loss; you know, assuming there is one.

The truth is, and this isn’t the sports editor of The Norman Transcript sucking up to the coach, Stoops the Not-So-Guarded still seems like the more authentic version of the Sooner skipper.

That’s the way he was when he arrived from Tallahassee. That’s the way he was, really, until Rhett Bomar put the program back on the front page for all the wrong reasons.

His brother Mike, though fiery and volatile, is a great talker, straight shooter and chewer of fat. Speaking of which, has anybody realized that if you really want a glowing quote about Sooner quarterback Trevor Knight, the guy to go to is OU’s defensive coordinator?

It’s hard to know.

There are reporters who yearn to put Stoops on the spot. My questions have a tendency to drag, though it’s been a long time since I forgot it before spitting it out of my mouth. The next dumb question, another inevitability coaches must put up with — just as we must deal with dumb answers — is always around the corner.

But, did you hear? 

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