NEW ORLEANS — Bob Stoops, in a pressed suit, gripped and grinned with Nick Saban Wednesday morning before a last press conference before Thursday’s Sugar Bowl.
The coaches talked up the other’s team and thanked all the locals for making the Sugar Bowl experience memorable and fun. You know, the usual kind of stuff.
And when Stoops got his turn, it was more of the usual from the Oklahoma coach.
For one last time.
Just like he did in August before his team took the field for their first practice of the year and then their first practice of the year.
Just like Stoops did before the Sooners played Kansas State and Oklahoma State in November.
Wanna know who the starting quarterback is gonna be Thursday night inside the Superdome? Stoops isn’t saying. Why would he now? He never has before.
"I think it’s fair to say through the season when you watch these two quarterbacks, we kind of go to some plays a little bit more with one guy than we do another, so why give someone the advantage of practicing those plays more than another set of plays,," Stoops said. "It hopefully has made them have to work a bigger package on what we like to do with each guy. So some plays are the same. But, again, some plays we gravitate to more often with one guy than we do another."
It’s been a lot of one or another this season at Oklahoma. What started with Trevor Knight at quarterback has shuffled back and around back to Knight, with starts in between from Blake Bell and even some snaps going to Kendal Thompson.
But beyond the secrets Stoops likes to keep until the last-possible second is the fact it’s worked.
Oklahoma has gotten to 10-2 without a true offensive identity and without the stellar quarterback play of the past decade under Stoops where there has been a pair of Heisman winners and a pair of NFL quarterbacks. Certainly Stoops would have preferred to let everyone know who his starter was back in August well before the team kicked off the season. No doubt, he’d love to be able to do the same now. But the thing is, Stoops isn’t telling because there hasn’t been a true No. 1 all year. There’s no sure thing. There’s no easy pick.
Now, Stoops said Wednesday he has told the players who the starter will be, but bet on Stoops not being scared to make a switch. He’s done it all year.
So in 2013, where Okahoma’s quarterback play has been erratic at times and inconsistent for the most part, you can give Stoops a bit of a break if he’s not thrilled about letting go of one of the few advantages he still has.
What likely will happen is Knight gets the start. What likely will happen is Bell will play. What could happen is we end up seeing some Thompson, too. All three are eligible to be back with the team next year.
What won’t happen is, no matter what happens Thursday night in the Sugar Bowl, anyone having a clue who the starter next season might be.