Stoops: "We've got to stay focused on Baylor"

OU's Head Coach recapped Nebraska, previewed Saturday's game against Baylor and gave his thoughts on the BCS at his weekly press conference Tuesday in Norman. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Below are excerpts from Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops' weekly press conference Tuesday in Norman. Stoops talks about OU's win over Nebraska, Jason White's Heisman chances, the BCS and Saturday's game against Baylor.

On Nebraska
"Felt good about the win and the way we were able to play in all parts of the game — offensively, defensively and special teams. Overall, just played a solid football game.

"I thought Jason White was just sensational once again. Just an incredible performance — 29 of 35 and almost 400 yards, three TDs. Defensively, I felt like we really played well also. They had a few runs that they executed well and all, but overall to keep them out of the end zone the entire day is a strong performance.

"That was another important game not only because of the tradition and the rivalry, but also the the Big 12 South. Locking up that championship was special. To do that once again was a goal of ours, an initial goal. Now we take it to Baylor here this week to finish out the regular season."

On Baylor
"Baylor's a much improved team. You look at their scores and the way they played everybody and then their overtime victory a couple weeks ago with A&M. (Baylor) is a team again that's much improved and played us pretty well a year ago. We've got to go down there and play as well as we can. That's what we're focused on and prepared to do."

On TV analysts Trev Alberts and Kellen Winslow criticizing him for trying to run up the score on Nebraska
"First, I would say a little bit of it is probably warranted. I myself admitted afterwards reflecting on it I probably chose the wrong way to end that game. I get caught up between being the sportsman and BCS points. I should've chosen being the sportsman and just run the last few times.

"But I don't think it's that big of issue to be that up in arms about it. It's still Nebraska. It wasn't a 1-AA team out there. Maybe I respect Nebraska more than they do. I've always felt, as a defensive coach anywhere I've been, that I've always found it more disappointing when someone quit playing against me than continuing to play. It's not like the score was 50 or 60 points.

"They can have their opinions, that's fine. But in the end, I think it's fair to say there's enough people out there that can see where your judgement could get clouded in the tight race we're all in pursuing a championship. And I have to answer to a program here — to a group of players that want to play in the national championship game, to hundreds of thousands of fans that are here in Oklahoma that want to play in a national championship game. It's fair to say, if they want to be objective, that you can see how you can get clouded in your judgement in how you choose how you finish a game."

On Nebraska's 'West Coast' offense only throwing 13 passes
"I'm not going to speak for them, their strategy or what their goals were. That would be for them to say, not for me. I'm not much on speaking for anybody else."

On his history of taking a knee and not running up the score in recent years
"It's been well-documented. Heck, we had Texas 65-13 a year ago and we had the third and 10 and fourth and 10 with about seven minutes to go in the game. We just ran a dive up the middle. We didn't even run an option or quarterback run play, we just ran it up the middle. We've had plenty of opportunities if that was our goal.

"Anybody that wants to be objective about it, it's fair to say there's an argument for both sides. I think coaches all understand there's an argument for both. Again, I wish I would have chose the other one, but in the end it wouldn't be fair if you didn't see the other side of it as well."

On if the BCS is hurting the coaching profession
"A little bit. We have to be careful of it. Again, that's where I could've chose a different path and still been a sportsman about it. But again, I look at Nebraska a huge rival, who was still playing, and 30 points, that's not a big deal at the end. It's difficult. I don't know what the right answer is. The other side is other times through the year you run it out at the end, and if somebody were to lose out by 10 points you think well maybe had we done this it might have changed a couple three votes. I don't know what the right answer is. I think it's fair to say there's not a good one."

On Bill Callahan calling the Oklahoma fans 'hillbillies'
"I didn't make it. If I had made it, I'd have to speak to it. I'm not much on analyzing or critiquing other coaches and what their comments are. That would be for Bill to say, not me. We've had a lot of games here and that's the first that I've heard of this. I'm sure Bill has his reasons and he's expressed them. If there are things to be changed there will. I don't know, because I wasn't in his shoes to make the statement."

On if it's tough on the coaches and players knowing that sometimes just winning isn't good enough
"Yeah, that's unfortunate. I think everybody in today's day of analyzing statistics, analyzing scores, analyzing who's the best conference, and there's so many people that have opinions on them, it is more difficult. Some of that gets lost. You're sitting there at 10-0 or you win a big road game and everybody's criticizing it. You win at home and you win too well and everybody criticizes it. You're 10-0 and you're wondering where's the fun, but we're having fun with it. It beats the heck out of the alternative. I'd just assume be criticized for winning. There's a whole other worse ways you can be criticized.

"I think what's lost too is we've got to stay focused on beating Baylor and winning a Big 12 Championship. There's a lot of football still to be played for everybody. We'll see where it goes."

On how much an impact ESPN's message is that OU is the No. 3 team in the country
"I don't know. It probably impacts some people. Surely, AP or all these coaches are aware that everybody has agendas. Anybody that's on TV has one. The closer it becomes the better for them. I think it's fair to say too they have a contract with the SEC. I'm fully aware of that. I can't be the only one that recognizes that. It's impossible to remove agendas. They have producers and ratings. I don't know what impact they have, but I'm sure they have some."

On if ESPN bases their analysis on who they want to see play
"That would be for everyone else to comment on, not me. I don't think that's appropriate that I do. But again, I just understand TV and what runs programs. Ratings matter. I don't know what to say about it."

On USC not having to win a conference championship game while Oklahoma and Auburn do
"I don't know how much of an effect it will have to be honest with you. It's hard to say. We seem to have gained some points on SC, actually. It's hard to tell. I don't know for sure."

On if ESPN pushing Larry Fitzgerald last year for the Heisman and Auburn this year is all about ratings
"I'm not saying that. I'm saying I'm aware of what their contracts are with. And whether people are directed in certain ways? I'm not going to say that, but again I think all of the people ought to be aware of who their contracts are with and what some of their agendas may be."

On the media that is not biased in any way
"I recognize there's a great deal of those. I'm not making an issue of this at all. I was asked a question and I'm just saying it's worth a thought. That's it. And I'm not saying it's my thought. I'm just saying it's worth discussion, and it's legitimate discussion. That's it.

"I see that there are people out there that are voting for us and that have seen us play and recognize our strength of schedule and our road wins. All of that matters. Put the bottom five teams in our league against the bottom five teams in the SEC, and they've got more losses than we do. Take the top four teams in our league against the SEC's and we've got more wins than they do. Who's to say who's the best conference? All you've got to do is put them out on paper in front of you, put them out there on the TV on the screen and analyze it.

"All of our ranked opponents, we've beat them on the road, including No. 5 Texas. I think that is being recognized and more-so than maybe people think."

On the fact that OU is still No. 2 in the BCS despite the votes being close in the polls
"A large part of it is because of the schedule we've played, the fact that we're in the South division and it has played awfully well this year, as well as the non-conference schedule is stronger than what everyone else has played. All of that still matters, so I feel good about the position we're in. What matters is how we play out and we finish."

On people not talking enough about the Big 12 South
"We're playing in the South and we've played a majority of them away from home. Again, all you've got to do is compare the entire conference against anybody else's schedule as well as look at the records. Ours will stack up with anybody. In fact, it's better than about all and it's every bit as good or better than the SEC."

On Auburn coach Tommy Tubberville questioning why the controversy is between his team and OU and not USC
"I would agree with Coach Tubberville. Their (USC) schedule and strength and who they've beaten away from home and ranked teams, it all should be scrutinized compared to what everyone else is doing."

On if USC is getting a free pass
"I don't think any of us are. We still have to play and win. There aren't any free passes out there. The discussion seems to center around us and Auburn and they're left out of that discussion. A year ago, we were the best team in college football that's ever played and everybody else was in the discussion. You still have to play it out, so we'll see."

On if USC is still No. 1 because they started there, and on the polls starting in October instead of August
"Absolutely, that's fair to say too. Not just SC, but maybe every year you can determine that there's some people that have just stayed because they've started there. I would think that would be a great idea to start it once everybody's played four or five games, but there's not enough to write about in the papers and not enough to fill up air time. You've have to start early. So, I don't think that will ever happen. You guys know that."

On if OU is getting more negative publicity because they were in the Sugar Bowl last year and USC was left out
"There may be some sentiment that way. I don't know what you do about that, but that may be a part of it. I don't know. It's probably fair to say that there's some of that."

On if the backlash OU is getting in the BCS this year and at the end of last year could effect's White's chances to win the Heisman
"I would hope not. I think the young man's accomplishments and success on the field speak for itself. He's done it for a long period of time and done it week in and week out. He's had his best work away from home. I would to think people wouldn't hold that back on him. People have come to realize how beat up he was at the end of the year and he never said a word about it, and has come back this year in a great way again. I don't think people hold it against him or us."

On Fox Sports analysts Kellen Winslow saying that White's play against Nebraska didn't help him in the Heisman race
"I don't know how that can be. I don't know how you defend that statement. The guys' 29 of 35 for almost 400 yards, three TD's, no interceptions. What else does a guy have to do? And 18 (completions) in a row at one point."

On what would make him feel good after Saturday's game with Baylor
"We want to go down, play as well, do our best to win and play as well as we're able to. That's what we hope to do."

On what he and Joe Castiglione can do to prepare for going undefeated and not making the Orange Bowl
"I'm not going to prepare for that. We're going to do our best to win each week, to win this week with Baylor and take it from there. Everyone else can head on down the road. That happened to us a year ago look what happened. In the end you have to keep winning, and that's what we're going to try and do."

On if he's taking a 'good faith' outlook that if OU wins out they will be in the Orange Bowl
"Sure, exactly. Looking at it, there are a lot of factors, if people are going to look at it objectively, that are in our favor. The bottom line is though we've got to go play and play well."

On his case for why Jason White should win the Heisman Trophy this season
"I would say again the record, his accomplishments away from home against ranked teams, his overall consistency throughout the year. The numbers do matter, and they're impressive."

On White leading the team on comeback victories
"It lets you know how tough and how disciplined and how solid he is. He's done it time and again."

On trying to handle Baylor blitzing White on every play this year like they did last year
"I think we've looked at that carefully and we're a different team than a year ago. So, hopefully we can handle it a little better. It's fair to say if that was the blueprint that K-State used and everyone else, we've gone through 10 games this year and have handled it decently. Hopefully, we can continue to do well and pick blitzes up and execute against it."

On the tough situation to play Baylor with the voters expecting them to put up big numbers and win big, especially with them being better this season
"It doesn't much matter. I can't sit here and change whatever perceptions there are or what people want to say. All we can do is do our best to play, play well and that's what we're going to continue to to try and do."

On Baylor being better this year
"They are better. You look at everyone they've played, they're a much improved team. They've got some excellent players that are making big plays. Their wide receiver — Ziegler — is an excellent player. We're going to prepare well and do our best to play well when we get down there."

On the incident with the Nebraska player and the Ruf/Nek and the fans throwing oranges on field
"I wasn't involved in any of the Ruf/Nek issues so I don't know what to say about that. As far as the oranges being thrown on the field, I'm always concerned that a referee or somebody out there gets hit with one, or even one of us coaches on the sideline without helmets on. That's dangerous. I'm not for that. I wish we didn't toss them because I just think it's dangerous for the people out there without helmets."

On if the Ruf/Neks are positioned too close to the opposing team
"That's something our administration will deal with. I've got enough to handle with our football team. I'm not in charge of them and really have no idea what they do, to be honest with you. That's just not what I pay attention to. Our administration will look at it if there is any problems."

On where ESPN ranks OU's Ruf/Neks
"Probably not high on their list I guess, but me either (laughs). That's OK."

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