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Bob Stoops Q&A
Aug. '08 Issue -- On Sale At Newsstands Aug. 22
OU Coach Talks About Upcoming Season
When Bob Stoops began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Iowa in 1983, he probably could not have imagined where he would be more than a quarter century later. But as he enters his 10th season at the University of Oklahoma, Stoops knows even one’s greatest ambitions can be achieved through hard work, determination and passion.
Sooner Spectator caught up with Coach Stoops recently and asked him about his time at the Sooner helm, what motivates him after all of these years, how good the 2008 Sooners can be, and what is his favorite thing about coaching:
Sooner Spectator: Going into your 10th season as the head coach at Oklahoma, can you look back and talk about your time here and what the experience has been like?
Bob Stoops: First of all, it’s gone by fast, and usually when it goes by fast that means it’s gone pretty well. There are a lot of good football programs out there, both in the Big 12 and all over the country. When you look at what we’ve done in our time here, winning four of the last six Big 12 titles, winning a national championship and playing for two others, I believe we’re doing all right. I feel very fortunate to have accomplished some of the things we have accomplished over the past nine seasons, bringing back a lot of the tradition and giving ourselves opportunities where we have won and competed for championships. So, it’s been an exciting run.
SS: After 25 seasons in the coaching business, do you still have the same level of excitement and enthusiasm you did when you started?
Stoops: Absolutely. That’s why we all do it. We enjoy the challenges and the level of competition. College football offers such a great atmosphere and dealing with the preparation and all that goes into developing players and putting a truly competitive team on the field is what keeps bringing you back.
SS: Is it fun for you to look around campus and see the facilities and improvements that have been made in the years since you arrived at OU?
Stoops: Sure. All of that has been a major part in helping us succeed and improve, Having great practice facilities and specific areas to further develop players and to watch tape — each of those things helps make your job easier. Looking back over the last nine years, almost everything the university has done to improve our surroundings has directly effected us in a positive way.
SS: Did you like the way your team came together during the spring, as far as cohesiveness and overall chemistry?
Stoops: It’s hard for me to compare from year to year. There have been very few instances when we haven’t had good team camaraderie and a lot of unselfish players. I thought this spring our guys worked together in a great way. Obviously we felt like we have a lot to build on and when you look at the fact you have a freshman quarterback who led the nation in passing efficiency and led your team to a conference championship, you haven’t seen that done before. I thought we had a good spring and of course, we are looking forward to working hard during the summer with the goal of putting ourselves in a position to challenge at a championship level again this fall.
SS: When you look at the strengths on the offensive side of the ball, is there one thing that stands out?
Stoops: We’ll see. We have experience in the offensive line, but we will have to wait and see if they are going to step up and be the major factor we believe they can be — whether we are running it or throwing it. Those guys need to be a physical presence and do the things they need to do — like protecting the quarterback and opening up running lanes — to give us a chance to be successful offensively. It always starts with those guys up front.
SS: It’s hard to imagine Sam Bradford playing any better, but being a redshirt-sophomore, this coaching staff feels he has room to grow?
Stoops: Sure, Sam can definitely become a more complete player. I think that’s just natural. With more experience and being more comfortable and then actually coming into his second season being the starter, I think he has more opportunity to be better overall.
SS: Do you like the depth on the offensive side of the ball?
Stoops: Sure, for the most part. There are positions we feel really good about and there are a few where we need to have some guys step up and provide a little more overall depth.
SS: Did you like the way the defense began to take shape during the spring?
Stoops: Well, the most pleasing part of it to me was the improvement and consistency of the secondary throughout the spring. Although we lost some guys, I felt the players we had out there — every day we practiced and in every scrimmage — played in a really strong and consistent way. Their performance as a whole gives you confidence going into the season that if they will make those same type of improvements during two-a-days, we’ll be just fine.
SS: What about the linebackers?
Stoops: I felt those guys, even though we were very thin during the spring, showed the ability to play well and make solid improvements. So if they continue that trend and we get back to full strength there, I feel we have a chance to get the production there that we are used to getting.
SS: Obviously, both Lendy Holmes and Demarcus Granger are anxious to get back out there and prove themselves again. How is their progress coming along?
Stoops: Both of those guys will have an opportunity to play key roles again this season if they continue to do the right things through the summer and work hard to get themselves into position by the time we get to game week.
SS: What is your favorite thing about coaching?
Stoops: The competition is one thing. And then the relationships with your players and coaches is always special — that camaraderie that you have. Every day you come to work you are surrounded by a bunch of good young men who are fun to be around and who work hard together for a common goal. A football program is filled with so many amazing personalities, guys who are fun to work with and challenge you to be better all the time. I like the fact you are challenged and defined each week. That aspect of competition is something I’ve always enjoyed.
SS: You have lost some quality coaches off of your staff over the last few seasons, including Kevin Sumlin this offseason. How do you view that and how difficult is it to maintain consistency in your program when that happens?
Stoops: That’s just part of this business. I’m always happy when one of our guys gets the opportunity to go to another program and be a head coach or put themselves in a position to do the things they want to do. I try to surround myself with not only the best coaches, but the best people. Of course, we want them to do well for as long as they are at Oklahoma, but I am always going to want what is best for them no matter what direction their careers may take them.
SS: How good can this team be?
Stoops: We’ll see. I feel we have a chance to be pretty decent, but we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes. We know we have to earn it, and that’s something we started working on in the offseason and will continue working on throughout the season.
(Editor's Note: This interview appears in the 2008 Football Preview Issue of Sooner Spectator. To read more, call toll free 1-877-841-8877 to subscribe or go to our on-line subscription page at http://www.soonerspectator.com/catalog/ ...)