Stoops ready to move on with Thompson at QB

See inside for OU head coach Bob Stoops' comments during Thursday's press conference. Stoops talks about the dismissal of quarterback Rhett Bomar and offensive lineman J.D. Quinn, plus the decision to name Paul Thompson the starter at quarterback. (Photo/Lisa Hall)

Below is the opening statement from OU head coach Bob Stoops' pre-practice press conference on Thursday regarding the dismissals of Rhett Bomar and J.D. Quinn, as well as excerpts from the question and answer session that followed.

Opening Statement

Stoops: I will address it today. We'll address it no longer after today. I'll only visit about players that are here.

In the end, we had a couple of football players who knowingly broke NCAA violations. In fact, all parties were aware that their actions were violations of NCAA rules. They did it over an extended period of time.

That's conduct that we won't tolerate here at the University of Oklahoma. Our championship tradition, the University's reputation and our integrity is not to be knowingly broken, and it's not something we're going to deal with.

We're held to a high standard here at the University of Oklahoma. We expect our players to conduct themselves that way. You know the NCAA rules and you abide by them. This was a situation that is regrettable, but again we cannot compromise our principles here at the University or on our football team.

We're going to continue to pursue championships. This changes things to some degree, but to me it was a cut and dry issue. If you knowingly and intentionally and premeditatively break NCAA violations you cannot be a member of this football team or part of this University. That, in the end, were the factors that entered into our decision.

Moving forward, after talking with Paul Thompson, we're excited to have Paul regaining the reigns at quarterback. We realize for the last four years he has been our backup quarterback all four years. The only time he has not been a quarterback has been for 15 practices here last spring because even last year, if there was anything that happened, we were going with Paul. He still worked at quarterback even though he was a part-time receiver. He still worked at quarterback through last season.

So, that being the case we're excited about it. I hope the people, the fans will really embrace the courage of Paul. When you think of a guy here who has really been the ultimate team guy. He has sacrificed a lot for this team.

When I asked him in my office, I told him the situation. 'Would you be willing to go back to quarterback?' I said, 'Don't answer me now. I want you to take some time and go home. Think about it, talk to your parents, because I want your heart to be in it. Otherwise, it isn't going to work.'

He thought about it, came back and said, 'Coach, I'm your guy. Let's go.' And that takes a lot of courage, a lot of guts. Because, again, the magnitude of it all and the pressure he's under. But that's the kind of guy he is. He's a special young guy that we have coached here.

That being said, there is no question the way Paul has worked here for the last four years. Our players are excited about it. They've got great confidence in Paul. We do as a staff and we're looking forward to the future with him.

We had a great day yesterday (Wednesday). I know everybody thinks everything is doom and gloom. Us, as coaches, you play the cards you're dealt. And that's what we'll do.

I came to peace with it really quickly because, to me, it's fairly cut and dry. We'll operate this way. I'm excited about not only the potential with Paul, but with this whole team. Our players yesterday really took to it and understood. We had a team dinner and had karaoke during the team dinner, and the guys were hysterical. We couldn't get the microphone out of their mouth.

So, our young people are incredibly resilient. These guys are ready to go. We had a really strong testing day today and the guys had a lot of enthusiasm while they did it. We're anxious to get back on the field here shortly, and we'll push forward.

I've said it forever. This program is much more than about any one individual. This is a great program with a long tradition and a great University. We'll move on and battle our way through this.

On how surprised he was when this situation came up

Stoops: It's fair to say that, yes, I was shocked.

On who found out about the problem

Stoops: Actually, it was our compliance staff are the ones that looked into it. It was Oklahoma's compliance staff that found and started looking into it was when I became aware of it.

On if he also feels that the business involved (Big Red Sports & Imports) also knowingly knew they were breaking NCAA rules

Stoops: Yes, and I should state that they are under new ownership. Mr. Hudiburg has been nothing but a great friend to this program, so I hope people understand that this is a new organization that is out there and not hold that against them.

But sure, all of our dealerships are aware of what the rules are.

On if there is a chance that Bomar and Quinn could return

Stoops: They're gone for good.

On hard was it to make the decision (to dismiss Bomar and Quinn from the team)

Stoops: Well, you don't rush to any decisions. But once you understand all of the facts, then you act on them. To me, everything was pretty cut and dry. It didn't take long.

On if there are any more players related this situation

Stoops: I don't believe so, no.

On if the NCAA will take any further actions

Stoops: I couldn't answer that. I think always there's follow-up. But I feel our compliance staff has done that and continues to do it really and never stops doing that.

So, no, I believe that this will be it. But everything's on-going and it will be long after this. As well as our compliance staff continuing to monitor all of our athletes.

On if OU's compliance did their job correctly

Stoops: Yes, absolutely. If people are going to, in their own choice, do something knowingly against NCAA rules they're not going to tell you about it. Once we knew or had any inkling of it we acted on it, and our compliance staff got to the end of it.

On if he knew that Bomar and Quinn were working at Big Red Sports & Imports

Stoops: No. Not in the fall, no.

On he should know where the players are working

Stoops: No, it shouldn't be. Our players are to tell us when they have jobs, when they don't. Summer is different than the playing season. You have the demands of school and practice, and our players aren't to be working during the fall.

On the players working in the fall

Stoops: There's a record that they worked some in the fall, yes. Again, I'm not going to detail it all. The bottom line is, no, I didn't know at that time they were working.

On why the compliance people didn't know they were working in the summer

Stoops: Because they didn't tell them. How are our compliance staff supposed to know. If you want to go do something to the Tulsa World, and you want to do it behind their back are you gonna go tell your boss? How is your boss to know if you didn't tell them?

On if there is a checks and balances system with the compliance department

Stoops: Not if people aren't going to comply with it.

On if there will be a new system

Stoops: Not if someone's not going to comply with it. They are to send us their records of work, they are to be approved to work at different times of the year, as well as the people that are employing our players are to send us documentation of that as well.

On what in his mind is the threshold of the University doing all they can do, versus the players making their own decisions

Stoops: Everyone can have their opinion. In the end, if somebody understands the rules and knowingly breaks them everybody suffers the consequences and they do for sure.

In the end, players need to be held accountable. We can't spend every minute with them, our compliance staff can't spend every minute with them. When are they held accountable? In the end, ultimately they are.

They're plenty old enough that they understand the rules. They understand what's right and wrong.

On if the players could've done what they did without the cooperation of the dealership

Stoops: From what I understand, no. The corporation also had a hand in it.

On what they coaches do to educate the players on what's right and wrong Stoops: It's our first seminar of the year in a closed meeting. Our compliance staff comes over, reviews all the NCAA rules and regulations from top to bottom. There are many forms, but also we specifically walk through every form and what it means.

What does an extra benefit mean? Anything from a free lunch to free drink to a free dinner to working or claiming hours you didn't work to being overpaid for hours you did work. All of it. It's their responsibility to know.

The compliance staff talks about it and I get up and reiterate it sometimes in different terms and words that I think our players are used to hearing in a way that I think they can understand it better. It is more than talked about many times.

All of our players understand it.

On if he agonized over the decision he had to make

Stoops: When I saw the detail of it and the period of time, no. That was it. I understood quickly what I felt was right for our football team and our University.

On his comment that he 'came to peace' with his decision and if he was upset with what might have been

Stoops: Of course, I don't need to get in to how upset and what my reactions are. In the end, it's pretty matter-of-fact. But what I need to do now is also pretty clear to me.

On if the University sets players up with jobs

Stoops: Summer jobs are through the University or through our office, yes.

On how many players have summer jobs right now

Stoops: Right now, none.

On how many players have had summer jobs at one time in the past

Stoops: Right now, I couldn't tell you that. It has diminished over the years because most players are in summer school, working out. Summer jobs aren't the issue they used to be back in the days when the kids weren't going to summer school all year or training all year. I couldn't tell you how many exactly.

On if any of the players have offered an apology to him or the University

Stoops: I have spoken with them, and they have.

On if he will help Bomar and Quinn transfer

Stoops: I will help them. I'm all for kids and feel in a way compassion for them, though they've stung us in a big way.

But still, it's just my nature to be that way. I think all us coaches are that way, so I would grant them a release and give them an opportunity to go somewhere else.

We're not going to not allow them to do that if they choose to. We're going to do what we can if they want to choose another path.

On how disappointed is he that this happened under his watch

Stoops: I'm disappointed. Definitely. There can be that perception for some, but I would caution that. Hopefully people will look at it with the perspective that it wasn't us as a program doing it. It was some individuals who chose to do it.

Hopefully there's a distinction there. But, in the end, it is what it is. You move on and you do it in the best way you can with as much integrity as you can.

On if he feels OU can win a national championship without Rhett Bomar

Stoops: To be truthful, I don't know that I feel a whole lot different than I did before this. Meaning, I don't believe Rhett had that much experience that we're losing. So, coming into the year I felt that we had a lot that we need to work on for that to happen.

I don't think we were coming in to the year thinking he was Jason White coming back from his Heisman Trophy year the year before. It's safe to say, though there's a lot of expectations for Rhett, what we have had to this point hasn't been anything that we haven't overcome.

In Paul Thompson, we have a lot of faith in him being a fifth-year senior, a guy who's worked in this program for four years in a great way, that we can be in the same position. What that will be? I was never here trumpeting us for the national championship. But I believe he has a chance to play in a quality way, if the players around him will step up, that we can still be awfully good.

You know me, do I think we can compete for the Big 12 Championship? Absolutely. And that's what I've always talked about at this point in the year.

On if they'll give Thompson all of the No. 1 reps in practice

Stoops: Right. And again, this isn't anything against the young guys. They don't have the experience in our program and in our offense that Paul does.

Joey is a young guy that's coming along from a junior college that still has three years to play that we really like, but we just feel needs to be brought along more and needs more experience as does Sam Bradford. He's only been here in the summer.

We feel that there's no question the amount of experience Paul has for us is really good experience. He's been on the field for us, he's competed, he's been taken quarterback snaps for four years. We're expecting Paul to do well.

On Bomar being given the startig quarterback job after the TCU game

Stoops: At the time, all things considered Paul had had more snaps than Rhett and the competition was pretty close. It was darn close in our mind.

That being the case, we felt Rhett had far less snaps that given the opportunity to have more that he will progress further and have longer to play. That's the decision we made. But again, it was still an awfully close competition, which again speaks, I think, to Paul.

I think it's fair to say too looking back on it, we were still in the mode of this is (offense) has been awfully good for us that, Josh Heupel from Jason White years to Nate Hybl's year, we won a Big 12 Championship and a Rose Bowl in this style of offense and what we were doing.

Did we play to Paul's strengths? I don't know that we did. And I think it's fair to say that we can do more as a coaching staff to play to what fits him and what he likes more. And some of it will be the same, but we can also implement some factors in our offense that blend to his athletic ability as well.

But we still like the way Paul throws, so we'll still have a good part of what we've always done as a part of our offense. But we can tailor it to be more plays that he's comfortable with.

On if this situation was in the back of his mind last week at Big 12 Media day in Kansas City, when he talked about players losing their 'sense of entitlement'

Stoops: No, that wasn't what I was referring to. I was just referring to an overall feeling of just sometimes a group of players who have done little and have a big reputation overall.

On why the program is aligned with car dealerships when they've been known in the past to cause trouble for other colleges

Stoops: Well, it's probably fair to say that 90 percent of them, if you went and checked, have the right relationship and have done it the right way — players have had a decent summer job washing cars or doing other tasks. Done the right way, it's no different than any other business. When done the wrong way, then it's wrong.

On if Big Red gives the coaching staff cars

Stoops: I couldn't tell you that.

On if he drives a vehicle from Big Red

Stoops: I don't. I'm Ferguson. They do a great job, I tell ya (smiles). Joe Ferguson and his group are the best. They're wonderful people and help us a lot.

Anyway, it's not fair to lump them all together. When done the right way, there's nothing wrong with it.

On winning the national championship in 2000, but since then dealing with Adrian Peterson's car issues, Dusty Dvoracek's incident where he 'cracked skulls' and now this, and how much does it bother him that the 'pristine' reputation of the program is now gone

Stoops: It bothers me, but I think when you look at these incidents, again, they're choices.

And again, as far as I understand that issue with Adrian has been dealt with and isn't a violation. So, you're bringing up something that isn't a violation. As far as Dusty's situation, I think the way he's left this program shows that people can overcome some difficulties.

This situation, some individuals made some choices that do effect us, but it wasn't the program that was doing it. It was a couple of individuals who were in the program and are now no longer in the program.

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