While Stoops has chosen to tone down his comments now that the season has begun, the Sooners heard loud and clear and don’t want to turn their coach into a liar.
“We all know coach Stoops feelings about the SEC,” Oklahoma linebacker Geneo Grissom said. “As his guys, we’re 100 percent behind him. We’re going to make sure we help him out there and make a statement in that aspect.”
They proved him right against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and have a chance to re-enforce his argument this weekend when Tennessee comes to Norman. Although Tennessee isn’t of the caliber of the Crimson Tide, they are still an SEC team.
“It’ll be a big game, but you want to play well for Coach Stoops every week because that’s how he prepares,” Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight said. “It’s big game he’s about getting ready to go. He’s a great leader of our group, and he really gets us going.” Oklahoma hasn’t lost a home game to any current SEC team under Stoops. They’ve won all 12. They beat Alabama in 2002 and never lost to Missouri or Texas A&M when those teams were in the Big 12.
Ultimately though, this is only the eighth time Oklahoma has played an SEC opponent since 1982 and only the second time the Sooners have played one at home in that span.
Even without a direct interaction, Stoops has become the pseudo-rival for the entire Southeastern Conference.
“I don’t care about it one way or the other,” Stoops said.
During the offseason, Stoops made a laundry list of digs at the SEC. He said the conference is top-heavy, which was factually proven.
He said that some of the conference’s top teams play soft non-conference schedules. There’s really no debating that, either.
Texas A&M and Missouri have each had plenty of success in the SEC with Missouri making the championship game last season. The Tigers made the championship game twice during their existence in the Big 12.
Even with the facts, Stoops is tired of the storm he brewed himself.
“That’s been overblown,” Stoop said. “We don’t need to go there again. Let’s talk about the players and the teams.”
Stoops did say there was one way he hoped his team responded to his comments during the offseason.
“I like it if they’re ready to play, and if they do their job preparing to play, and I believe they will,” Stoops said. “So whatever works for them, that’s OK. It’s not something I concern myself with.”