No More Nonsense

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — At first glance, all the transfers and guys deciding to go their separate ways from Oklahoma seemed like a major cause for concern and provoked widespread panic.

What is going wrong with the program?

Why are so many guys looking to find a way out?

Is there an internal issue that is forcing all these players to search for other options?

Well, linebacker Travis Lewis provided a touch of stability to the Sooner program when he opened his mouth on the subject Wednesday at Media Day.

"I think Coach [Bob] Stoops decided to put his foot down," Lewis said. "The guys that weren't contributing, guys that were going by the wayside and trying to get a free ride are no longer here. If you're going to be at Oklahoma, you need to win. You need to contribute, you need to do all the little things to make this team succeed.

"The players that weren't doing that, he said, ‘Okay, it was nice of you being here, I appreciate you, but go do you thing.'"

Simply put, there were guys who weren't investing into the team and program the right way, and some of those are now out.

Stoops reaffirmed that Thursday during his final press conference before the Insight Bowl.

"Some of them have been told they need to transfer because I'm not renewing their scholarship," Stoops said. "And for a variety of reasons, which I have laid out before, whether it be continual and habitual skipping class, not being eligible to play or suspended from practice for these kinds of academic reasons or for drug testing reasons or for walking out or skipping out on a weight workout. You are here to go to school and to be a heck of a football player, or at least try to be."

So, it's really a positive thing.

Get the bad apples out, and you'll have less good apples that turn sour.

Leave them around and, well, you get what the Sooners were this year: a team that struggled with chemistry and togetherness at times.

One or two sour apples can make the rest of the team that way, and it has until this recent shuffle.

"Yeah [it's cleaned up the attitude]," Stoops said. "You know why? Because that 2 percent of my team isn't eating up 90 percent of my time all of a sudden. It is pretty simple. You feel a lot better, that's for sure."

Lewis backed his coach on the decisions and had an explanation for why it's been the way it's been.

"When you're winning, you don't notice some things," Lewis said. "Everyone is happy and free flowing. But when you start losing, you start looking around and start noticing those things. Players missing class, you just can't have that. I really support Coach and feel like he has handled this the best way he could. He just did what he felt like he needed to do."

One reason forcing these players out is the way to go is because it shows the others on the team what is acceptable compared to what is not.

It establishes discipline, something Lewis alluded to in several of his statements and what Stoops plainly stated in his press conference.

"In the end, I think it is the right thing to do," Stoops said. "And it sends a message to other players, they get it usually. We'll see. We'll see where it goes from here."

While all the attrition seems like a more positive thing than initially, though, the fact that there's so much more than normal still cannot be ignored.

"It is just noticeable this year where other years--and we've had more this year," Stoops said. "But I said earlier, we've had more players academically suspended or missing practice than I had at any time here. And I love our policy of if you miss a certain number of classes, you are taken off the field.

"It is the right thing to do. And if guys in certain ways--if that means putting my foot down--I have done it other years, too.""

No doubt, the Sooners will regroup from their vacancies and fill them appropriately.

They already have in some areas, including the most recent snag, tight end commit Taylor McNamara out of Westview HS in San Diego, Calif.

With such a successful program, they'll have no problem getting that accomplished all around the board.

It's just getting through the tough times first.

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