Below are excerpts from OU head coach Bob Stoops' Tuesday press conference.
Stoops: I'd like it to be fairly brief, if that's possible, to address the issue of our last game before we get on with the Middle Tennessee game this week.
To address our last game with Oregon, I first want to comment that by no mistake that we as a team have looked at this thoroughly and, first, that we take accountability for what we could've done to change that game. So anyone who's sitting there thinking that we're just pointing fingers and not looking at ourselves, that's not true. Through a lot of hard work Sunday, Monday with the players, we take ownership with what differences we could've made in the football game.
But, that all being said, I also realize and am proud of a football team who was an underdog on the road against a ranked football team in a sold out, packed stadium — that you all talked about was so difficult to play in — put thereselves in a position to win. And it's undeniable that the results of the officiating mistakes changed the football game.
It isn't like it happened with 10 minutes to go in the football game and a lot could've happened from then and now, we were taking a knee. If we could successfully take a knee for three downs we're done. We win by six — underdog on the road and now what's your reaction? We were denied all that — that satisfaction going home on the plane, that satisfaction in the locker room. Though not perfect, winning the football game was taken away from us. My players don't get to feel that satisfaction, we don't as coaches going home, fans don't, rankings. All of that is affected by it. So our situation changed drastically in those moments. And again, it's undeniable because of the situation in the game.
But still, with all the mistakes we've made and players make in games, we don't have the opportunity to change them. If you could give any coach an opportunity, 'Hey, let's replay that and let me replay this down,' there would be a lot of different circumstances. And players would love to do it to. Well, we don't. Even the officials who are on the field in the heat of the moment, who have to make a split-second (decision), I get that. That's part of the game. But that wasn't the case here.
Again, so what everyone understands what I find inexcusable and unacceptable is the views (in the replay booth) that were there. And I'm going just by what the Pac-10 commissioner said that there were 'ample' (views in the replay booth). He used the word 'ample', which means many, and then the right decision wasn't made. The call wasn't what it should've been, as well as we had the football.
I still have trouble with that comment, over the loud speaker (by the official) not given to me personally, that Oregon possessed the football before it was stripped away. Now how that is explained I don't know either. So those are the two issues, that to me, are inexcusable and unacceptable. Period.
Now I say all this in this way because I feel the right to stand up for my football team. I'm not sitting here babying or whining about it. But when I looked at my players yesterday and read the letter from the Pac-10 commissioner and what the penalties are, for in particular people who had an opportunity to make it right and didn't, I see the amazement in their eyes.
I conferred with all of them on what they wanted me to say and how they wanted me to say it, and that's what I'm doing — for them to have some kind of reasoning to it. I can't have 100 kids, or all my players, who want to say something, say something. So I have to say it in a way that, to me, again it's just unacceptable.
I don't know how it's ever to be justified and I'm not one to say what the penalties ought to be. But I think everyone, that crew and the people who had a chance in the replay booth, I think it's different for each of them and it should be dealt with that way. But again, I'm not the one to say what ought to happen.
But our situation's changed drastically in all those ways I've talked about. Instead of being criticized for winning and how we could've played better, now we have to sit here and deal with a loss and not have the satisfaction of not being 3-0 and improving our position in the polls and everything else. When, again, clearly it was not correct what happened.
Now, that all being said, I do believe and I mean this, I hope fans...I believe no individual should be personally or publicly ridiculed or threatened or harassed. And I would say on behalf of myself, this football team, we don't want that to happen to any individual. And anyone who has been responsible for that, I would hope would not. I don't believe in any circumstance that is right.
And I would say this, as a football team we had a great practice yesterday. Our kids had an upbeat, good attitude. I believe through it all, though it is what it is, they realized that they did, no matter what anyone wants to say, play well enough to win provided the game is officiated in a correct way. So there is a sense of knowing what the potential is for this team, what our opportunities could be and what the future for the rest of the year could be. We've got a lot of work to keep pushing to get better, obviously. I'm sure Oregon would say the same thing.
I'm sure it's fair to say if you give us an extra possession that we didn't deserve — they weren't stopping us in the fourth quarter, right? I think Adrian had 145 yards in the fourth quarter. So you give us one that we're not supposed to have and who knows what's going to happen as well.
The situation won't change. That's why from today on I won't comment about it. The only reason I'm commenting about ot today is because I have to and I feel the need to stick up for our players and what they want said. No one's babying about it. The facts are what they are.
And as I said, as a team, we put it behind us yesterday. We had a great practice, we focused on Middle Tennessee. That is where our focus is, make no mistake about it, and the rest of the year — building, pushing ourselves to improve, get better and to continue to pursue wins and improvement. That's what we're about.
But it had to be addressed. There's been a lot said about it, a lot acknowledged about it, so I'll answer a few questions for a brief period of time and then we're going to move on to Middle Tennessee.
On if he feels like the fact that everyone in the national media agrees that it was a bad call helps the image of his program
Stoops: Hopefully. But in the end they move up, we move down. I always say that in the end it all gets down to wins and losses. And unfortunately, that's the way it is.
Again, that's what was denied us, and that's a lot. That was a lot to be taken away from us or stripped of — however you want to put it. But we'll fight back from it and keep improving. That's all you can do. And we're not doing it with our head down or sulking about. I'll promise you that.
On how this situation affects his opinion on instant replay
Stoops: I still think it's good. Even if it wasn't handled in the right way, at least it puts it out there for all to see what was and what wasn't. There's no denying that. So it's still better.
On having replay officials in the future who weren't from the area of where the game is being officiated, like last year in Lubbock would help
Stoops: Absolutely. Let's face it, that goes without saying. Sure it would.
On one national reporter saying that some of the voters had turned in their votes for the poll before they realized what had gone on, and the possibility that next week some corrections would be made
Stoops: I would hope that would happen — that people would realize it and see it as it was. Again, I understand games and things happen early. There's a lot to play for and it changes the decisions you make late in the game if something like that were to happen that you can change. But this is over.
With 1:09 to go we're on a knee and it's done and we're winning by six on the road when you're an underdog. There's a lot to that, and that's taken from us. But hopefully, as you said, people will understand what truly was the case and respect what the situation was and form a better opinion.
On the reports that there may have been some technical difficulties in the replay booth
Stoops: All I have understood where the commissioner's comments of 'ample' review. That speaks for itself. I don't think the commissioner would say 'ample' if there was one.
And from what I understand, they get the same reviews on TV that all the announcers were watching on TV were so outraged about it. They saw the same one's, is what I understand.
But 'ample', to me from the commissioner, says enough.
On if it happens often that officials grant possession to a team that doesn't have the ball in a pile
Stoops: No, they're usually in the middle looking to see who posseses it before they say that somebody has possesed it before it got stripped away. Again, that statement to 60,000 people, when it clearly wasn't what happened, I clearly don't understand and I don't know how it can be explained. The ball is rolling loose the whole time.
On if the referee explained to him why he called what he did
On if he would like to see officials have to answer questions about their decisions
Stoops: I don't believe they need to explain every holding, every little thing. But in a situation such as this, I would think, yes. I would think there would be more accountability. You're going to make this decision, you're have to explain it. I shouldn't have to say that. I believe all you guys would say that as well.
Again, they don't have to explain split-second decisions. We all make split-second decisions. I understand that. I've been on both sides of it and I get it. But some are so easily seen that I don't know how you can justify it.
On when he saw the replays and when he first addressed the team
Stoops: I saw all the replays when I got home that night. Listen, I've been up all night too the last few nights. I saw them that night when I got home and really was in disbelief because it wasn't a bang-bang play.
It's crushing that it can happen. We don't get back with the team until Monday, so Monday afternoon in our team meeting we let them know the issues. We're hard on ourselves on what we need to do to get better — coaches and players. But how am going to not appreciate my kids, who went on the road and put themselves in a position and all we've got to do is take a knee and we win a football game, and I've got to them that they don't get that.
You give us another possession and who knows what's going to happen. I let them know that and let them know the circumstances that it was incorrect what happened. And then after I practice I got the note and I read it to them.
And again, I saw just the disbelief that for some people that's what they get — a game suspension. And the disappointment on their face that, OK, obviously we're the only one's that are going to have to deal with this.
On Malcolm Kelly being interfered with before the ball had gone 10 yards on the onside kick attempt
Stoops: That's what I saw clearly from the sidelines.
On at what point he was aware that Allen Patrick had recovered the onside kick
Stoops: After I saw him running off the field with the ball. But I figured maybe it could've happened that way that someone had it and maybe he just got it late. But who gives up the ball in that situation? Nobody. If someone's possessing the football it ain't getting away from anybody.
Then you see the replay that night where the ball is never possessed and is rolling freely through the whole pile and comes out the end untouched. Again, I don't know how that's explained.
On how the situation has affected the integrity of the game
Stoops: I was amazed yesterday. I've never spoke with Tom Izzo (Michigan State basketball coach), never met him in my life, and Tom called just appalled at the situation and expressed his concern and support. That it's just unfortunate, that he knows as a coach what we have to endure and just how wrong it was.
On the rule that states that only Pac-10 officials can call home games of Pac-10 schools
Stoops: I think there's no question that Joe Castiglione and I and President Boren will, if that rule's is not changed, that we may reconsider that game. And I think it's justified that we look into that.
I don't know how it all works, but I'm sure they'll have to explain, as a conference, what their stance is on it and what they can do about it. But I don't know that. Joe Castiglione would probably be able to answer that better than me.
On if it is standard around the country that officials in a non-conference game are either from a nuetral conference or from the visiting teams' conference
Stoops: A lot of times, unless you make an agreement. But they have a policy that only Pac-10 officials can officiate on Pac-10 fields, from what I understand.
On the Big 12 having two replay officials in the booth, while the Pac-10 only has one
Stoops: From what I understood he had an assistant as well.
On the assistant not being able to overrule the head replay official
Stoops: Um, it wasn't that hard.
On some media claiming that Oklahoma is whining
Stoops: I could where that would be the case if this was something that wasn't so obvious. This isn't split-second — could it be, could it not be? It's too obvious. Not only who hit the ball, but he was interfered with before he has the opportunity to catch the football regardless of who hit it first.
I don't need to tell you guys what that means. The guy's got to fill up some air time, he's going to take the other side and get everybody riled up. I know the deal. Go ahead.
On the mystery behind the replay system and the fact that ABC's broadcasters didn't know who was the replay official
Stoops: I shouldn't have to care who's doing it. Maybe we all will now, but I shouldn't have to worry about who's replaying and where he's from.
On what needs to change in the Pac-10's officiating rules before the rematch with Washington
Stoops: They're the only conference in America that has the ruling that only Pac-10 officials can officiate on Pac-10 fields. And after our situation, we had two turnovers taken away from us last year at UCLA as well, and this situation is pretty obvious to everybody.
That rule, or whether we go up there with that rule still in place, I don't know that we would agree to that. I think that's something that Joe Castiglione should truly looking into. And I feel strongly about that so we'll see where that goes.
On if he can believe that this has happened twice in the last two years
Stoops: I'm not going to sit here and rehash all of them. I think this one was so painfully obvious. That's is what everyone's having a hard time accepting.
On how he would like to see the situation resolved
Stoops: Can't be. And I'm not going gonna say what I feel should happen. That's not for me to do. I trust that in the end what the Pac-10 commissioner or our Big 12 commissioner feels ought to happen that they communicate and deal with it appropriately.
On his comment on Boren's letter saying that the game should be stricken from the record books
Stoops: I know it won't happen. There's a lot you'd like to have happen, but in the end I'm realistic in what the possibilities are and it isn't going to change.
On his thoughts on how the defense is playing
Stoops: Well, it's not good enough. I think it's been terribly inconsistent. I think, when you look at it, we have been poor early and we have been poor very late. There's a lot of good in between.
The other night up there the defense is part of building that lead. And then at the end, we don't come up with the plays or stops that we need. I see it as a lack of fundamentals and technique in a lot of areas.
Maybe some of that goes by the wayside with their focus. You look at both phases, we're up 13 and 17 points and playing awfully good, and then we don't and give up a drive. Is it our intensity, our focus, our attention to detail in those situations?
We've got to be more consistent with it.
On how well does he think the defense can play
Stoops: I still think we have a chance to be good, and I'll clarify that. Some people have said he's (himself) touted this defense as the best since 2000. I have not.
You guys know me enough, I've always said it has a chance to. It has a chance to, it could be. We obviously haven't done that. But I still believe there's a lot of potential on it.
I'm hopeful, as we went through last year, we got a lot better as we went. And we obviously need to. That's what we're pushing hard for.
On if the offense has been close to having some really big games
Stoops: We are close to having some really big games. I'm very pleased at the way we're managing the game, the way Paul is, the way coach Wilson and his whole offensive staff are trying to move the football, and the way Adrian's being used on the field.
When you have one of the best players in college football, everything revolves around him and it should. Through three games, he's averaging 30 carries a game. That's about what you want. You're crazy not to as long as he's feeling good.
I think we need, and we've talked as a staff, to give him a few more breaks in the game. Not that he needs it, but I think just for the long haul to give him some breaks in the game to spell him a little bit and make sure he's fresh late.
But here's a guy that rushes for 140-something yards away from home in the fourth quarter. That's pretty strong.
On the national media (Kirk Herbstreit) suggesting that Peterson had slipped in the Heisman race after the Oregon game because he's the total offense and OU lost
Stoops: How can that be? He should be the total offense, or it revolves around him. When he's not getting the ball he's bait for getting people open, and that's only smart football.
How he could slip, other than that a game is taken away from us? If that's how they look at it, the fact that there's a loss in the column, then you've got to be undefeated to win the Heisman. I don't know how that would be explained — a guy that rushes for 145 yards, like I said, away from home in the fourth quarter.
And as far as our whole offense, Paul Thompson threw for 275 last week, two touchdowns this week. The fact that we play-action to him (Peterson) is only smart.
On if he's going to leave Reggie Smith as the boundary corner
Stoops: We're going to continue to work that. He played awfully well again. Reggie had a great game, bunch of deflections. But we're going to continue to work in the secondary to get better play.
On the play of the offensive line
Stoops: They did a very nice job, a really good job in protections as well. And running the football, AD as tough as he is, but there's a lot of instances that he's through a hole for 10 yards before he's having to deal with people. It isn't just the o-line when you get those nice runs. All those guys are contributing.
On if Marcus Walker will start at cornerback
Stoops: He'll start this week and then we'll see what the other group does, how they practice and what they end up doing.
On how Peterson played in the return game and if they plan to continue to use him there
Stoops: He just needs to see it more. We need to keep getting him more practice with it. Sure, we intend to continue with it.
On if Keenan Clayton will get another shot at safety
Stoops: He's just like all those other guys. He's in there practicing trying to improve. He's no different than anyone else in that secondary, so he's one of the guys in the mix trying to earn time.
On if offensive lineman Brian Simmons is ready to play
Stoops: He's getting closer, but Brian's started behind after that injury last summer or spring and he's catching up. He's catching up.
On the lack of pressure up front by the defense
Stoops: To me, it begins with the run game. We haven't been solid on the run game as we're used to being. And when you're not solid there, it's harder to get that pressure. That's where it begins. We need to be better overall in the run game first, and as we are we'll get more pressure. We're working on it.
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