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July 6, 2006

Stoops unmoved

Coach won't be embracing prognostications

The college football season is still two months away, but the buildup is well underway. For a program like Oklahoma, anticipation comes with major expectations.

Each summer, college football publications fire out their preseason Top 25s months before August’s first practice.

Fans and media love the overkill of speculation and OU has received its fare share of the spotlight. OU coach Bob Stoops, on the other hand, would prefer never to hear any of the preseason accolades.

“No, I am not comfortable. But for us, as a staff and a program, we are used to it,” the Sooner coach said. “We really pay no attention to it. Our guys are fairly young still and hopefully they are smart enough to realize that we have by no means earned that position yet.”

Ignoring the hype is going to be hard, though.

Athlon Sports tabbed OU as its national championship favorite earlier this summer and just about every prognosticator has projected the Sooners to be a top-five team.

There’s no reason not to. When practice begins in a little more than a month, OU will have most of its starters back from last season. Linebacker Rufus Alexander and running back Adrian Peterson have already been mentioned as Big 12 Player of the Year candidates and Peterson is among the early favorites to win the Heisman Trophy.

There’s a lot to be excited about. That’s what worries Stoops. And he has a history lesson ready for anyone who sings his team’s praises before they’re earned.

At this time last year, OU was expected to compete for its fourth Big 12 championship in six years. It seemed like a pretty safe bet. Since winning the national championship in 2000, the Sooners have routinely been a front-runner to win the Big 12. Only late-season losses in 2001 and 2003 had knocked them off course.

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