Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops said all the right things in a brief and cordial media session at the press hotel, the Omni Mandalay.
About the only thing that brought any reaction came at the end when the coaches were asked by Paul Eells if they had thought about their decision in relation to the opening coin toss.
"The weather dictates sometimes, but we've been consistent this year, when we've won it, we've deferred," Stoops said. "When we didn't, and the other team deferred, we took the ball."
Nutt followed by saying, "We may try an onside kick."
And, the place roared with laughter.
Nutt was asked by a member of the Oklahoma City media about his feelings for Oklahoma State, his alma mater. He said, "I have great feelings for Oklahoma State. I went to school there, both parents graduated there. A brother played there. I played for Eddie Sutton, and he's done a wonderful job there. I met my wife there."
The coaches were asked about being over prepared for the game with the great amount of time to practice.
"I don't think you can over prepare, but mainly you don't do a lot different in a bowl game," Stoops said.
Nutt said, "You may add one or two more plays, but that's about it. I don't think you'll see a lot of difference in the two teams."
If the weather turns nasty, will the game plans change?
Nutt said, "I think we've had one game that I can remember that weather was a factor, and that was sleet. Unless it's like that, you don't change much in your game plan. The main thing is you always try to protect the ball on offense and stop the other team."
Stoops said, "I think it's about what Houston said, not much different for us."
Stoops was asked if the Sooners had to do a lot extra as far as preparation with Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones in mind, and would Jones' performance have a great bearing on the game?
Stoops said, "Matt's performance, along with Zak Clark, along with Nate Hybl always have a crucial role in the game. Matt's role in their offense has been a big focus in our preparation. We have focused on him in a big way. We have focused on tackling him and his speed. We want to limit what he can do."
The two coaches were asked if they could talk about their impressions of the other, and about their relationship.
Stoops asked Nutt to go first, so he'd know if he said anything good before he talked about Nutt.
Nutt smiled, then said, "We had communication after the first summer I was at Arkansas, after he was named coach at Oklahoma. We'd never met. He asked me a few things about discipline. We had a good conversation. He wanted to know about how we won so quickly.
"I know a lot about what they've done because they are right at our back door, and there are a couple of TV stations we get (from Tulsa) that always cover them, so we saw their great run last year to the national title. I know how he coaches, and the emphasis their coaches place on special teams, and about the great speed they have on their team."
Stoops said, "What I respect about Coach Nutt is the success they had immediately at Arkansas. I think they had nine or 10 wins his first year. That's why I placed a call to Coach Nutt.
"At Florida, in the SEC, I'd seen a lot of TV clips of interviews with Coach Nutt, and read newspaper interviews. The thing that I picked up quickly from him was the sense that he was extremely positive with his team. He was upbeat and brought energy and that his team played hard.
"Those are still the key factors with his teams. I think that positive energy was a big factor in what happened this year. They were 1-3 and the coaches stayed positive. That is evident in watching them play. There is a lot of positive energy from Houston. Sometimes, all you have in a team is seven wins. Sometimes you have 10 or more. I think with Houston, you see a coach who is going to get it all. He got everything from this team this year. They get what's there and they get their teams to play hard. That's what I see from Houston."
What are the things that stand out in the other team with each head coach?
Stoops said, "They play phyisical and play hard. You better do the same thing. You better be full speed. They have speed at the skilled spots. All of their running backs are good. They have two different styled quarterbacks and that is something that stands out and the nature of their year, the way they were playing at the end, that stands out."
Nutt said, "What stands out to me about Oklahoma is the team speed. They have a Butkus Award winner and a Thorpe Award winner on that defense, but the rest of the people can really play, too. They chase the football with great speed on defense, and their offense is under rated."
Nutt and Stoops Meet the Media
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