The 2011 College Football season is set to kickoff this weekend. There’s a few intriguing games across the country, namely the Boise State-Georgia tilt down in Athens and Oregon-LSU down in the Bayou. Bob Stoops and his top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners will host Tulsa Saturday afternoon, a game they should win handily. The Sooners will get their tests though before it’s all said and done. Perhaps not from their chief rival in the Big 12, the Texas Longhorns. But Oklahoma State and Texas A&M should be quite tough, and a road trip to Tallahassee two Saturdays from now should provide Stoops’ squad with a tough September game with which to measure themselves by.
Stoops joined WWLS The Sports Animal in Oklahoma City to talk about the future of the Big 12, to joke about Texas being in control of the conference’s fate, whether he enjoys his squad starting the year ranked No. 1, which of his players have made noticeable strides since last season, what he’s expecting from the play of the tight ends and linebackers, and how he tries to avoid listening to sports radio or reading the newspaper once the season starts each year.
What he would say to those who claim that the University of Texas is controlling and running the Big 12:
“I don’t know about any of that. You can have any perception, and rarely is perception correct. But at the end of the day, if they are it isn’t being run very well, right? So whatever that perception is, I don’t know if that’s right. And of course it isn’t. Listen, we’ll have many opportunities and we have many hands to play, and we have strong leadership at this university so I know we’ll play it how we feel is best for Oklahoma.”
Whether he likes starting the new season ranked No. 1:
“I don’t really care. In the end it isn’t anything I have any control over. Whether you’re 1, 10 or 20, it doesn’t much matter — you’ve still got to play, and our guys all know that. So we’ve been 1 before, it doesn’t matter, it’s just getting down to playing well and starting this week playing Tulsa. That’s all that matters, that’s all we’ve been working on, that’s all we think about. So, the rest of it doesn’t matter. And really, as you know, and I’m not criticizing it, it fills up radio shows, it fills up newspapers, it fills up TV time. But so what? We’re not involved in that. The people that have got to play and compete know that they’ve got to do the work and get ready to earn it.”
On which players on the OU roster have clearly made noticeable strides from last season:
“I think all our receivers have really made really strong and good improvements, and I think it’s going to really help us. I think our guys in the secondary have really made good improvement. Some of the guys inside in the o-line. I think guys have come on strong and really done well, a couple of d-ends.
On if he thinks the tight end position will be a weapon this year after not contributing much to the Sooners’ offense a year ago:
“Yeah and it’s probably unfair a year ago because you’re judging everybody to Jermaine Grisham who was probably one of the best ever that’s played it. But James Hanna I think is a really, really special player, and I think James has a chance to make a lot of big plays this year and I think he will. He’s an excellent player.”
If he reads the newspapers or listens to sports radio:
“No. Well, I do every day leading up to the season until about game week. So from about now until the end year I won’t. In the summer I do, and in the rest of the year I do, and even during the season I want to know what’s going on in the rest of the world because I get in my own little cave and watch football. So I’ll read the front pages, but I stay away from sports coverage in the newspapers and on the radio for sure. But like in the summer or even during basketball season I’ll listen to you guys and see what’s going on or what’s happening. I get a kick out of it. Or the morning guys driving in, and they’re imitating me and that sort of thing. So, I’m good there, but once the season starts, I stay clear. My mind works on what I feel is right and best and I’m not going to be talked to about it from everybody other than my staff and my administration. So outside of that I stay clear of it.”