OU Needs to Clean It Up to Maximize Potential

NORMAN, Okla. -- The start of the 2011 season is still six months away and spring practice is still three weeks from today, but if the Sooners are going to live up to their expectations, there's a pattern that needs to change, and now.

Since the conclusion of the Fiesta Bowl, several events have headlined the offseason, and all of them have been negative.

First, wide receiver Kenny Stills and nickel back Tony Jefferson were arrested.

Stills was picked up for misdemeanor driving under the influence, Jefferson for interference with the official process.

Then, defensive tackle Stacy McGee was cited and released for misdemeanor possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, as an officer found one joint of marijuana and a grinder.

After that, the Sooners reported a series of secondary NCAA violations of which four assistant coaches improperly questioned some players about their failure to participate in voluntary offseason workouts as well as other players logging more than the permissible eight hours per week.

An investigation found that the four coaches were defensive backs coach Willie Martinez, receivers coach Jay Norvell, offensive line coach James Patton and defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp.

There were some other violations in the report, but the point is none of this is acceptable.

But it didn't stop there.

In recent days, head coach Bob Stoops announced that All-Big 12 cornerback Jamell Fleming was not enrolled in the spring.

It's come out that it was an issue of academic misconduct, which will suspend him from school for a couple semesters.

According to the university handbook, a suspension of this magnitude for academic misconduct comes from "willful intent, e.g. cheating from concealed notes on a midterm or final examination, altering a major assignment for re-grading, submitting all or substantial amounts of another student's work as one's own, or intentionally plagiarizing substantial portions of a term paper from online sources."

Fleming's case is just another example of problems in the offseason.

Now, I'm not suggesting that the entire team has followed the route of some of these actions mentioned in this article.

But there have been enough of them to go around.

For all intents and purposes, this is supposed to be the No. 1 team in the nation come early fall, and the only thing that can get in the way of it is off-the-field issues or injuries.

So far, OU isn't necessarily taking care of business in the offseason.

It better do so, or next year won't go quite as expected.

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