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October 22, 2012

Notebook: Stoops defends talent, talks ND history

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Bob Stoops responded Monday to some of the criticism out there about the talent level of his team this season. One of the most famous cases followed the Sooners’ 24-19 loss to Kansas State.

“They just don't have the talent,” Barry Switzer told the Tulsa World following the loss. “"We're not as good as we have been. We don't have the Tommie Harrises or Gerald McCoys squatting down there in the middle."

Three games after that loss to Kansas State, those comments from Switzer look a bit off the mark as the Sooners have righted the ship and appear to be one of the better teams in the country on both sides of the ball.

Stoops fired back at the criticisms his team is lacking in talent.

“I don’t buy that. You know what I mean?” barked Stoops. “Just because Adrian Peterson isn’t here or you don’t have a first round draft pick - we’ve got talented guys. We don’t have Sam Bradford, we’ve got Landry Jones. Is he going to be the first guy taken in the draft? Maybe not. But he’ll be a first round guy. Gerald McCoy. OK, we’re not going to have the guy that’s taken third in the draft, but we’ve got good guys, all across the board. And good players.

“I don’t believe that. Every year from year to year we’re not always going to have the first three guys taken in the draft or three of the first four or five. That isn’t going to happen every year. We’re as talented as about anybody we’ll play, overall.”

Stoops has been asked time and time again, going all the way back to Big 12 Media Days in July, about the strength of his defensive line.

That line was an easy target after the loss to KSU and the loss of Stacy McGee, who was suspended before the start of the season for reasons which still haven’t been disclosed. But after the last three games, OU’s defensive tackles have been one of the real strengths of the defense.

“They’re playing great, and all the guys up front are,” said Stoops. “I felt that coming into the year and no one in the media wanted to believe it, again, just because Gerald McCoy wasn’t there. Those guys are all good football players. Really good football players. They all have experience and that matters too.”

NOT A GOLDEN DOMER

Bob Stoops’ name has come up more than once when the Notre Dame job has opened over the years. Stoops was asked about his interest in Notre Dame growing up as part of a Catholic family from the Midwest.

Many assumed Stoops’ father, Ron, had an affinity for Notre Dame being a coach and teacher at a parochial school like Cardinal Mooney in Youngstown, Ohio. According to Stoops, that wasn’t the case.

“We weren’t the big fans, I wouldn’t say that,” said Stoops in comparison to other families in his childhood neighborhood. “My father liked them, but he kind of liked them just like he liked Michigan or Ohio State too. He just kind of watched it and didn’t have a real strong allegiance.”

With Stoops’ father being a defensive coordinator at Cardinal Mooney, he dealt with a lot of different schools over the years. Stoops said that had something to do with not developing an allegiance to any school over another.

“I think maybe my dad knew so many coaches that came through and we had different players from our school that went to so many programs that he kind of just rooted for all of them,” he said.

HISTORY OF OU-NOTRE DAME

You will certainly find plenty of Sooner fans who feel strongly about the Oklahoma-Notre Dame series over the years.

How many teams can claim such a lopsided record over the Sooners in their history? Notre Dame leads the all-time series 8-1. But the last time these teams met, Bob Stoops was at the controls in 1999, his first season in Norman.

The Sooners took a 30-14 lead on the Irish before they took over the game in the second half and scored 20 unanswered points to win 34-30.

“I was asked this morning what I remembered about that. I remember getting up 17 points and we didn't know how to win,” said Stoops. “I told my staff when we got home from the game, our guys haven't ever been up on anybody by 17 points. In 99, that was the case. It was just trying to teach them how to win.”

Before 1999, the last time these two teams met was 1968, a 45-21 blowout win by the Irish in their season opener.

Stoops didn’t appear to be all that interested in spending a lot of time educating his team on the history of these two schools, as he did in 2000 before Oklahoma played Nebraska in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown.

“I've always wanted (our players) to know the former great players and great teams and other coaches,” said Stoops. “To a degree, but it's going to be minimal. That isn't what wins for you.”

For Stoops, all that really matters is this is a showdown of top ten tens in 2012.

“It is great for college football. It's great for the community, the business in the community, the fans,” he said. “They ought to enjoy it. We're excited about it. Meaning, you know what the challenge is and it makes it exciting. But the following week will be exciting for us, too.”



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