NORMAN, Okla. – Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops has been in the news a lot this offseason for what he’s said.
It’s time he made the news for something he did.
Stoops was spotted – although it took more than half an hour – helping with the cleanup in Moore, Okla., a town devastated by last week’s tornado. Apparently, Stoops just put on a t-shirt, a visor, a pair of jean and drove to Moore on his own, grabbing a shovel and jumping right in with the dozens of other volunteers, helping sweep and clean up debris.
It wasn’t a publicity grab for the University of Oklahoma and Stoops didn’t seem to be out there posing for pictures. You know what it looked like? It looked like he was trying to help. And that shouldn’t be surprising at all.
He’s never been particularly agreeable with the in-game sideline interview, curt and abrasive, coming off like the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich, albeit without the handful of championships and the universal undying love.
Stoops isn’t particularly warm with the media like the Thunder’s Scott Brooks or Boston’s Doc Rivers. He’s not even LSU’s Les Miles, who is a staple of highlight shows and dominates YouTube for pretty much the entire college football season.
But what Stoops does have is a real desire to help – especially kids. Since he came to Oklahoma in 1999, he’s made weekly visits to a children’s hospital in Oklahoma City. Often times, getting him to answer a question is like hugging a Brillo pad. It’s just a bad idea, and what you get in return is a sharp response. But put Stoops around a kid and he becomes engaging, conversational and not scared of a high-5 and a smile.
Put him in front of a microphone, and look out.
Maybe it was the way the season ended as the Sooners were undone by Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl by Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, or perhaps Stoops was on edge because of home losses to Notre Dame and Kansas State which kept OU, the latter keeping OU from winning the Big 12 title. Or maybe it was the defense which was opened up and exposed in the second half of the season by West Virginia, Oklahoma State and then the Aggies.
The combination certainly had something to do with a change on defense, as OU is looking to move from a 4-3 to a 3-4, as well as the shake-up among his staff. In the past two seasons, five assistants have been replaced. This season’s three new faces are the first time Oklahoma has had three new assistants in one season.
Perhaps that’s the reason Stoops was so aggressive this offseason.
This spring alone, Stoops has suggested the college athlete shouldn’t be paid.
He went off on the Southeastern Conference, saying, yeah, the top teams are good, but the rest of the league isn’t that special.
He even went after ESPN draft analyst Trent Dilfer after Dilfer ripped the Sooners and former quarterback Landry Jones.
In all three instances, Stoops spent time explaining himself, which is never great when telling a joke or when you’re a nationally known football coach.
But he doesn’t have to explain himself for what happened during the Memorial Day weekend. It’s not surprising Stoops wanted to help out in Moore. All sorts of people wanted to contribute, including celebrities and notables. Some pledged money like OKC Thunder forward Kevin Durant, some pledged their time and energy like the West Virginia baseball team.