Stoops: Our future is incredibly bright

OU head coach Bob Stoops talks about his Sooners' momentum heading into 2006, Texas winning the national title and much, much more.

Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops is enjoying a little time off before hitting the recruiting trail to close out what looks like will be an outstanding recruiting class.

Stoops recently attended the College Coaches Convention, and on Friday he and his coaching staff will convene back in Norman to discuss recruiting. Recently, Coach Stoops appeared on Sports Morning with yours truly and Bob Barry Jr. The following is a transcript of that interview:

BBJ: Did you root for either team in the Rose Bowl?

BS: "No, I just tried to sit back and enjoy the game. We have to do our own work know matter who won the game. Who won wasn't going to matter to us a whole lot, and now that you know that it is Texas you do have a sense of that, hey, it was good. It was a Big 12 team. Hey, they have done a good job.

"We compete against them every year and they have had a lot of really good teams. So in the end, good for them. I send my congratulations to them, Coach (Mack) Brown, his staff and players as they played well in a big game to win it."

JH: In the grand scheme of things, does the fact that Texas won the National Championship have any affect on how you do your business at Oklahoma?

BS: "No, it doesn't. This doesn't mean that they are going to get any better recruits. They always have great, great recruits and we have as well over the last several years. When we have won it before and been in it, that didn't guarantee that we got everyone out there.

"Each of us can only sign 25. I love what we are doing and the way that it is going, and I have every other year. In the end, it doesn't change anything that we do. We have always known that they are a very strong and good program. I don't know if this changes that."

BBJ: I know when you won the National Title in 2000 and went on that run against Texas that championship just added to the rivalry. Now, it gets heated up even more, if that is possible, because you guys can't wait to get down to the Cotton Bowl next year and knock them off can you?

BS: "It is a great rivalry. There is no question about that. When each team wins, and when you are on those kind of streaks or when you are winning National Championships, it does heat it up a little bit I guess.

"I don't know how you can heat it up any more than it has been the last several years, but anyway, it is good for them. They have done a good job and I am glad they were able to do it."

JH: Bob, you must be Superman, because according to several reports you were in Kansas City, Houston and a couple of other places all the while you were in Norman meeting with your staff and enjoying the New Year. How did you do that?

BS: "Well, hopefully it lets everybody know that you can't believe everything that you hear out there. People's eyes do deceive them."

JH: You must have a double or something?

BS: "Oh, you know how it is. I don't feel the need whatsoever to respond to that. There is so much inaccurate, irresponsible reporting or people that get on computers and just say things that it is a joke really.

"I pay no attention to it, nor do I feel the need to respond to every situation or everything that people put out there. I am not going to do it."

BBJ: "However, it has not been just the Chiefs where you name has been mentioned. I am a big Green Bay Packer fan and I was called by a reporter a couple of weeks ago that said your name was mentioned with that job, so I am just asking if there is any interest on your part in the NFL at this time?

BS: "Listen, I have said it 100 times that I like what I am doing and this is what I attend to do. I can't help what people want to say out there. I am not going to sit here and respond to what every single reporter wants to say.

"I am here and if there is anything substantial to anything, then I will respond to it. When there isn't, then I am not going to sit here and go through all that. No, right now I like too much what I am doing at this point and I intend to continue to do it."

BBJ: "Yet, it is not a bad thing to have your name out there is it? They wouldn't be talking about you at all if your weren't doing a good job?

BS: "I understand that and I do appreciate it. Listen, a lot of these Presidents and owners in the NFL are great people.

"Take the Chiefs for instance. I think Carl Peterson and Mr. (Lamar) Hunt and that staff of people are just an incredible NFL franchise. They do it the right way and they are wonderful people.

"The Packers are that way to. There are a number of them, a great number of them, but I am not going to interview for any jobs. Whatever is said is said. I am not going to sit her and defend myself every time a reporter wants to say my name their."

JH: You came out of the Holiday Bowl with great momentum going into the spring. Talk about your thoughts as you go into an off-season with the spring coming up and what you now think of your football team?

BS: "I think, more than anything, it shows the progress and growth of the team from where we were early in the year from so many young players fighting through the adversity the way they did.

"The growth of the team, the potential of the team in the coming years is promising. To play a 10-1 team, who only lost to SC the whole year, and play them well I think says a lot about our program. I think it says a lot about the progress and the future.

"We have a great number of players back and it is exciting. I think our future is incredibly bright."

BBJ: I want to get your thoughts on Jimmy Wilkerson, who when he left your program many thought he made a mistake. However, look at him now he is a three-year starter or part-time starter. How does it make your feel for a guy and guys like Jimmy who go on and do well in the NFL?

BS: "I love to see them do well. Whenever we have been up there for the Big 12 Championship games he has always stopped by to see us. We love to see him do well. I am glad he is healthy and playing well. We take a lot of pride in that.

"Jimmy knows that I was a strong proponent that he should stay another year with us and make more money coming out instead of being a sixth-round pick being a third-round or better, but regardless of that he is still one of our guys. I still love the guy, recruited him, enjoyed coaching him and I want to see him maximize his earning potential.

"Other than that, we love seeing them do well and I have followed Jimmy. He has had a great career, especially this year he has really stepped up and he is playing really well."

JH: Jimmy has played both defensive tackle and defensive end, and both Roy Williams and Tommie Harris have made the pro bowl. Then you had all those receivers who eventually started before a couple of them got hurt. You have a number of players who are doing great in the NFL don't you?

BS: "Yeah, all those kids are great kids who have worked hard. We try to watch as much as we can. I mean, we are not just sitting around here watching all the NFL games, but our players as we are stretching on Monday will say, "Hey coach, did you see so and so or did you hear what so and so did?

"We all kind of recap what each of them did on that Sunday on Monday, because even though we are in the office on Sunday we didn't see the game."

JH: The NCAA convention was recently and one of the key pieces of new legislation up for discussion is that of the five-year rule, which if passed would give all college football players five years of eligibility. Are you for this rule?

BS: "I think it is a good rule. So many of these guys, and it is not just these guys because most college students are taking four and a half years to graduate. If they are going to be here four and a half year, why not have them play that fall of the fifth year of playing time? Why not allow them the opportunity to do it?

"With players leaving early for the draft, whether it is injuries or not, I think it is a good idea. In the NFL, when you get injuries you get to pull people off the free agent wire or whatever, but we can't replace anybody in college. So in the end, it would allow us to maximize and use our entire roster and not have to worry about protecting a guy's year.

"For instance, Quentin Griffin came out in the sixth or seventh game of his freshman year. Garrett Hartley comes out with only a couple of games left, but we felt a need that we had to use him. It would protect those guys and give them the option in their fifth year if they want to use it or not.

"If they don't, because they want to go to the NFL or because they graduate in four years, then they wouldn't have to use their fifth year. It just seems that it would be wise to allow us to use our entire roster as apposed to trying to protect guys' years."

JH: Recruiting seems to be going well for you with a little less than a month left. How do you feel it is going?

BS: "I feel great about it. I love the position that we are in. These young guys seem to make their decision sooner and sooner. We don't have many spots left and we are really excited about where we are at and the position that we are in. The guys that we have remaining out there are quality and we feel really good that this is going to be a really good class."

BBJ: What was your favorite thing about Arbuckle Wilderness?

BS: "It is the best. That was my first time down there and it was a good way for me to bust my kids out of school for just a half a day and to get away from the phones.

It was great family time. My wife and I took them down there and had a great time. It was really neat as giraffes were eating right out of the sunroof. It is just a good way to get away for a day."

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