Bob Stoops Is Being Unfairly Pilloried Over Joe Mixon Situation

Let’s get this straight right up front, the Joe Mixon situation, and how Bob Stoops and others in the Oklahoma administration dealt with that matter is not the same as what the issue was with Art Briles and what was going on at Baylor.

Oct 22, 2016; Lubbock, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops calls a time out during the game with the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium. Oklahoma defeated Texas Tech 66-59. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

What went on at Baylor had to do with sexual assault cases and involved not one or two Baylor football players but multiple players. The scandal also cost head football coach Briles his job, as well as that of the athletic director and president of the university because of their failure to appropriately address the matter.

I am not assigning degrees of wrongness to what went on at Baylor and the matter involving Mixon. Both situations involve legal and moral wrongdoing and cannot and should not be ignored or dismissed.

But the personal situations and circumstances involving Mixon, former Sooner Frank Shannon and, a couple of years ago, allowing Dorial Green-Beckham to transfer to OU – all three which have been cited in multiple media reports of being repeated examples of how Stoops and the Oklahoma football program are more concerned about winning than doing what’s right when it comes to dealing with unlawful and unacceptable off-the-field behavior by its players.

In that same regard, it’s also hard to ignore the public incident earlier this year involving cornerback Jordan Thomas when the subject of disciplinary considerations pertaining to college football players comes up.

Oct 15, 2016; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon (25) runs for a touchdown against the Kansas State Wildcats during the first quarter at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Two years ago, prior to the start of what would have been his true freshman football season at Oklahoma, Mixon was charged with punching a female student in the mouth and fracturing bones in her face. The Sooner running back pleaded guilty to the incident. He was suspended for the 2014 season and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service in lieu of serving time in jail.

Although there was surveillance video of the incident, it was not made public until late last week after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ordered the release of the video. The past 48 hours have been like an instant replay of the two-year-old incident, only with much more public outcry about the seriousness of the situation and anger over how the matter was handled and why it wasn’t dealt with more severely.

The University of Oklahoma issued the following statement after the video was released:

“University officials were made aware of the content of the video prior to taking action with respect to Joe Mixon.

“Based on that information, the university immediately suspended and removed Mr. Mixon from the football team for one year, during which high standards of conduct were expected and maintained.”

Mixon long ago apologized to the female victim in the incident and her family, and the sophomore running back did so again on Friday, through his attorneys, after the video was made public.

In the statement issued by Mixon’s attorneys, he reiterated that he was sorry for his actions that August night in 2014 and that he was hopeful that the public release of the video recordings would help put this matter to rest.

Joe, I hate to inform you of this, but it ain’t so.

If anything, now that the actual images of the incident are out there for public viewing, the matter is undoubtedly going to get a lot more coverage and criticism than ever before. It is as if a smoldering fire has been rekindled and is again at full blaze.

Images are always stronger than words. Just ask Ray Rice, former running back of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, how the 2014 video evidence of him dragging his then fiancé  by the hair out of an elevator, after striking her in the face and allegedly knocking her unconscious, worked out for him.

Rice was immediately suspended by the NFL and has not played since.

The release of the Mixon video has fanned the fire and prompted all-new public outrage, not just at Mixon but at Stoops for not taking sterner action in dealing with the matter.

“The university immediately suspended and removed Mr. Mixon from the football team for one year, during which high standards of conduct were expected and maintained.” –Statement from University of Oklahoma officials following release of Joe Mixon video

There are those who strongly believe that Mixon should have been summarily dismissed from the team and that, had the incident involved anyone half as talented as the sophomore running back, he probably would have been removed from the team. In other words, Stoops and his coaches, as well as the entire OU administration, are being accused of playing favorites and putting winning ahead of doing what is right and just.

That allegation would never be successfully substantiated or stand up in a court of law, but the court of public opinion is an entirely different matter and has much more pervasive and persuasive reach.

According to Oklahoma officials, Stoops “has been proactive in presenting training for his team aimed at preventing such behavior in the future. Sensitivity training in the area of violence has been intensified and best practices will continue to be implemented.”

In 18 seasons at Oklahoma, Bob Stoops has demonstrated on numerous occasions that he not only is willing but, in fact, has taken immediate and appropriate action when the situation warranted it. Stoops would be the first to tell you and stands behind the principle that no player is bigger than the team.

As far as the ridiculous accusation that winning is the only thing that Stoops and the OU administration care about, how do you reconcile that notion with the fact that the same head coach once dismissed his starting quarterback (Rhett Bomar) and a starting offensive lineman from the team just days before the start of a season for something far less egregious than the charge against Joe Mixon.

The Sooner head coach has stated and shown in multiple instances that he believes in second chances when a player takes responsibility and accountability for his actions and demonstrates that he has earned the privilege of a second chance.

It is difficult to say how the video will impact Mixon’s prospective NFL Draft status. He is widely expected to leave OU after this season and declare for the draft.

After the most recent negative press coverage and public criticism over how Oklahoma addressed his situation, refueled by the release of the video, it is hard to believe he would want to subject himself to another year of the same, which undoubtedly would damage his draft stock.

And therein lies the cruel irony of this entire situation. Joe Mixon will be moving on, but the hit on the image of the Oklahoma’s highly successful football program – real or perceived, warranted or not – and the reputation of its head football coach, will remain behind to be remedied and rebuilt only by future actions and with the passage of time

This article originally appeared on