Post-season talk with Bob Stoops: Part IV

NORMAN, Okla. — Sooners Illustrated sat in on an extended discussion with head coach Bob Stoops Friday morning the detailed all things players leaving to outlook for next season.

In recruiting there are so many different personalities. How important is it to those kids?

Stoops: I believe so. You know, all guys are different, but if a guy doesn't want to relate to you, he's probably not going to. But usually we feel we're pretty good guys and relate pretty well to people.

Back to the quarterbacks, can Kendal [Thompson] make that a three-man competition?

Stoops: Sure he can.

With Trevor and Blake?

Stoops: Sure he can. Kendal's done a lot of good things and all of them can run, even Drew's got good legs, too. You know, so yeah, Kendal's done a lot of really good things.

Bob, how did your offensive line play, do you feel like?

Stoops: Through the whole season?

Through the whole season…

Stoops: You know, fairly well but needs to be better. Inconsistent, I thought, in some games. You know, some games really well, just again I feel it still needs to improve.

You got three senior running backs coming back next year depending on [Roy] Finch. Is Alex Ross a guy that can compete?

Stoops: All those guys will have a chance. Definitely.

I know he's wildly athletic and…

Stoops: He's big, strong. But, you know, we'll give all those guys a bunch of carries here in the spring to get them ready, see who emerges in making the most plays.

But it's kinda crowded to get in at the top for 2013?

Stoops: That's not—you know what? A lot of things appear that way that aren't always that way, or another guy just, ‘Hey, he's too good to keep holding back,' You know, not holding back, but he's showing, ‘I'm too good not to play.'

Is Alex maybe athletically is he one of those guys?

Stoops: All those guys are, so we'll see.

One thing about your teams in '09, given all the adversity and especially in 2010 is you got a lot better over the course of the season. Do you feel that that's been the case the last two years and what needs to happen for that to occur if you don't feel that way?

Stoops: Again, I think there's circumstances in 2010 and 2011 that are quite different, you know, experience, the injuries, who's your leading rusher, who's your leading receiver, are you going to be as good? So, you can't judge that way. So, yeah, I believe you have to stay healthy. And guys have to keep making progress, so the times we did we're back to winning a championship like we did in 2010. And we caught a couple of great teams. We played one team out of conference that was undefeated up till the last game. I don't need to tell you. In the end, we weren't quite good enough to win 11, 12 or 13 games. We were good enough to win 10 and have a part of a championship once again for the second time in three years. So, that's where we're at.

Are there specific improvements—obviously there's probably a lot of improvements—but for 2013 we gotta get better at this, we gotta get better at that?

Stoops: Yeah, just everything. You know, yeah. That's what you're always trying to do. Really. Think about it. What's ever good enough? Nothing unless you win them all.

Wide receiver play was pretty solid, although you lose two…

Stoops: It's gotta get better.

Do you think A&M's changing the dynamics of Texas recruiting? I mean, joining the SEC, having success this year.

Stoops: Well, I mean, I don't know that it'll change forever. They're obviously a hot team and a Heisman Trophy winner sitting there at quarterback, so they're attractive. Is it always going to remain that way? I don't know. You know what I mean? I think everything has its ups and downs and times, but in the end each team can only sign so many guys.

Bob you're obviously, I'm sure, pleased to get Trey Millard back. You talked about players maximizing their windows. How high do you think Trey Millard can rise in the draft next year by coming back?

Stoops: Well, it's hard to tell. But in the end, I think it's about maximizing your window of opportunity and I believe another year training, being more physical, getting stronger will help him be more prepared for what he's gonna get there. If you're gonna be running into Ray Lewis', you should be ready for it, and I think another year in the weight room and conditioning—he's a true junior—is gonna help him. Get more experience, those kinds of things I think will. How much? I don't know where he would go this year, so how am I gonna know next year how much it would have improved? But I think as much as anything it's also being more prepared for the opportunity and what it's gonna really entail when you're dealing with it at that level.

Do you have any guys that are getting anything cleaned up this spring?

Stoops: You know, we do. Some stuff that's—you know, Rip got something with his wrist. I think so. Bronson's got something going. Which is it? I want to say cleaning up his ankle maybe a little bit.

Shead is banged up?

Stoops: Adam Shead. Yeah, but I don't know if there's anything surgically. I'll get that list and get it out what all guys are doing. I mean, the stuff is all manageable. There isn't anything that's going to put anybody in trouble for next year, even the summer to train and be ready.

Trey Millard missed last spring because of a shoulder injury. Is it gonna be—to piggyback off his question about improving—huge for him to have another spring, a final spring?

Stoops: Well, I think it's like Aaron Colvin last year missed all of winter and spring. So, to me it's those guys being able to lift and get more powerful, get stronger, hone their techniques. It does matter. And I think it'll help them.

They're pretty good at that, those guys…

Stoops: Yeah, but you can be more. Again, when you're talking about just being more prepared, being more physical, all that time in the weight room makes a difference on the field for all guys.

It seems like you guys used to be able to really rely on summer camps with kids coming in and working with them. Maybe that doesn't happen as much. The last couple of years what have you learned about this clock moving forward and getting guys?

Stoops: Yeah, it's just really hard, as you know, to get the really great evaluation of them. You know, I think as much as anything, we're like everyone does now, we even this time of year spend a lot of time in juniors' schools, try and evaluate and gather information. What's he really like? You know, so it's just tough to have the time to make a great evaluation and we do like them to come in the summer to camps as much as possible. To me, in particular too, when they're freshmen and sophomores to me is where you can make, you can really get a jump when you start to really like some sophomores and start communicating with them or getting them to games.

Is it harder? I mean, now you have to have all the prospect one-day camps where it used to be you could spend two or three days with the kids and really get to know them and coach them and let them see what you're all about?

Stoops: Yeah, it's just hard to get kids, as you know, for two and three days now. When they got to move to all these camps and they only have time for one or finances, you know, it's just really hard to get two or three days with a kid now.

There's talk about free reign with text messaging, Twitter, what are your thoughts on that?

Stoops: I think it needs to happen. In the end, so you're not texting them, you're emailing them or you're whatever you're doing. You're doing something.

You probably liked it when it was just text messages so you didn't have to worry about all those Facebook and Twitter rules?

Stoops: Oh yeah. I mean, if you're gonna be doing that, you might as well text them. So, I believe it's coming, and in this world it needs to because too often you hit the wrong button and it's purely accidental. Right? I mean, you guys do it, right? You know, you send something to your buddy that went to your wife and you're like, ‘Oh.' So, or somebody else.

You got any examples of that with you?

Stoops: Not me. I'm not like you guys.

Back to that question on juniors, you guys have always been—I don't know how to term it—pretty honest in offers, not actually throwing out just blanketing the country with offers. Has that kind of hurt you guys a little bit with it moving ahead now because there are programs out there that will just blanket offer everybody?

Stoops: Oh, and you're saying we haven't. Yeah, I don't know. Maybe in some cases it has. I mean, it's hard to say what specific instance it may have, but I still don't believe in just going out without any evaluation. Just because a few other people have offered, we have to get in the game and then see that he doesn't fit us or he's 5-10 instead of 6-3. Well, we're out of it now. You know, and we just haven't done that. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's not how I like to operate.

But typically your philosophy is you want to see a kid in person a lot of times before you offer him?

Stoops: You know, there's a rare instance, there's some instances we haven't. But we can tell enough on tape. We watch five games and he's three inches taller than every single guy out there, ‘OK, he's 6-4.' You know what I mean? So, those are the kinds of things you're trying to gauge and so we still try and see every guy, but I can't say that's 100 percent. But we're still pretty choosy about it.

I don't know if they do this, but if they did, Joe and David Boren sat down with you and said, ‘Tell me what shape the program's in.' What would be your response to them?

Stoops: Well, we were just—let's see here. The last three years we've won two of the last three Big 12 Championships. We just were 15th in the country. We've won more games overall than any other Big 12 team in the last three years. We've won more Big 12 games than any other team in the last three years. I think in the last three years there's only five teams in the country that have won 10 or more games. We're one of them. In the last five years there's only two teams that have won more games than us. So, pretty good. And we're 10th overall, I think, what matters most to administrators—we're 10th overall in net value according to somebody. I don't know who. Hopefully they're accurate because if they are, that's pretty healthy.

Yeah, but you can't turn around and sell it. It's artificial. Jerry Jones isn't coming to buy it…

Stoops: Well, I didn't read the article. I was just told. So, I'm just going by [that]. I would say this: I think financially we're pretty good. Probably. I'm just guessing.

You mentioned though A&M's a hot team. You guys I would guess because of all the success that's come…

Stoops: Well, people get bored with just winning the Big 12 Championship. They want more. You gotta win the National Championship.

What can you do as a program, though, to make people more excited? I mean, 2011 when you came out and said it's about time we win another one. Everybody got pretty fired up.

Stoops: I mean, I'll say it this year. I mean, what you're talking about is this is the first time in four years we're not competing for a national championship since I got here. Every four years or within four years we're always competing for the national championship in the game. I don't mean just part of it. In the game. You know, and even that isn't good enough if you don't win it. So, in the end, that's just how fans, that's just how people are. I mean, I get it. I don't care. But all of what I just gave you is all reality. Right? I didn't make any of that up. It's all factual and true. So, no one else is doing it.

How much does it bother you, though, not competing for a national championship?

Stoops: I hate it. We've been pretty used to it. I helped create that and to me it's the pulse here and I don't like it. So, you know, but that's me.

People are going to sit there and say look at your team on paper, these guys are all leaving, they're losing their quarterback. They're gonna say, ‘Well, you don't seem any closer to a national championship.' Is that how you view?

Stoops: You never know. You know, we didn't seem very close when we had a shot at it in 2000. So, you never know when it's coming and we're gonna work hard for it. We'll try and make some improvements here through the winter and spring and hopefully have a chance to be better next year.

With the guys that are leaving in key positions, it would seem that you would have to rely on some of these guys you're signing in February for next year or do you not see it that way?

Stoops: Oh, I think I hope we do, meaning I never mind playing guys we're gonna sign in February. I mean, we've had a lot of good ones come in and make big contributions. So, that may be the case to a degree, but I think always, too, there's a lot of guys—every year I say this, you know that—that people aren't seeing that we are trying to develop that come on and, ‘Wow, who's this guy.' You know, and I'm hopeful we'll have some of those guys. We always have, you know, in the past, so like I said sometimes it's not bad some guys are moving on.

Heard a rumor the last couple, three days that one of the openings in Stillwater might be pursued, they might be after one of your guys…

Stoops: I got no idea what you're talking about. I don't hear rumors.

No, but you've got guys here on staff that may or may not be looking for jobs…

Stoops: Again, I don't know what you're talking about. If you wanna tell me…

I thought Oklahoma State has openings and the rumor is that they may be after one of your guys…

Stoops: Well, who knows?

You don't know that?

Stoops: No.

Do you anticipate any staff changes?

Stoops: No, but in the end nothing ever surprises me. So, you know, every now and then a little bit of change never hurts.

For the rest of the discussion, visit the links right here:
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part V

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