The Norman Transcript

January 3, 2013

Friendship won’t keep coaches Sumlin and Stoops from competing all out

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

IRVING, Texas — The friendship between Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin is long and deep. The two chatted with each other for 10 minutes before they met with reporters — together — on Wednesday.

However, the two don’t seem to have a problem competing with each other. They’ll do it Friday night in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic at Cowboys Stadium. They’ll go at it even harder when they hit the recruiting trail next week.

“I don’t know about Kevin, but business is business. I mean, we’re friends, but you have to do your job,” Stoops said. “As long as we’re not doing anything unethical. We understand that it’s just the competitive world that we live in.”

Sumlin served as an assistant on Stoops’ staff from 2003-07. The two have a relationship that goes back to the early 1990s when Stoops was an assistant at Kansas State and Sumlin was at Minnesota.

“As long as you’re not doing anything unethical, you’re friends,” Sumlin said. “It’s like playing golf: sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. You might get a little upset, but you come back and do it again; that’s just the way it is.”

However, Sumlin admitted it isn’t a regular-season game he’d like to add to his schedule.

“Do you want to play? We don’t make the schedule,” he added.

Minimize the distraction: Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy earlier this month. After winning the award, he spent another 10 days traveling around the country, doing publicity and receiving other awards.

Stoops has coached two Heisman Trophy winners — Sam Bradford (2008) and Jason White (2003) — during his tenure. He believes playing so late in the bowl season helps get a Heisman winner back on track.

“It is a distraction early in December, but then that fades away come late December and into your bowl preparation,” Stoops said. “And then I’m sure Kevin has done the same thing in managing the last couple of weeks what his obligations are. You start minimizing those so he can concentrate on playing ball. I think there’s probably a little more made of it that it has to affect the guy. Again, if you have an earlier bowl game, it could be a little more problematic.”

Shootout welcome: Stoops wouldn’t mind seeing Friday’s game turn into an offensive shootout. The Sooners have given up 34 points or more in three of their last four games and won all four.

“We’ve been in a bunch of them. Sure,” Stoops said. “Our players have played in some tight situations in the last several weeks and responded well and competed well to the end in those games. You never know how it is going to go.”

Thinking of next year: OU has had nearly five weeks to prepare for Texas A&M, but Stoops admitted spending all that time focused on the Aggies would have been a waste of time.

“I think early on in practice you work on some things that you plan on doing next year that won’t even make it onto the field in this game with some of the younger players,” he said. “Those are some of the things we did early on with our younger quarterbacks that can run the ball as well as throw it. We started tinkering with that.”

Sumlin said the Aggies eased into their game plan as well.

“I think how you manage that becomes important. It’s something I learned when I was at Oklahoma,” he said. “The later the game, if you do stuff too early players can get bored.”

John ShinnFollow me

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.