Tahlequah Daily Press

College Sports

June 20, 2014

Business as usual for Stoops as hype cranks up

Managing expectations wasn’t Oklahoma’s problem last season. It flew under the radar in a way no Sooner team had since the 2000 season.

Granted, the 2013 season didn’t end with a national championship. Nor did another Big 12 Conference crown find its way to OU’s trophy room.

However, managing the preseason assumption the Sooners will be part of the first College Football Playoff is a weight they will lug in 2014.

OU coach Bob Stoops swears external expectations are outside of his scope.

“I’m not a fan. I’m not at many fan events other than two or three like this,” he said at the Sooner Caravan stop in Tulsa earlier this month.

Stoops is an avid reader, just not on topics in which he’s already well informed — like his team. When it comes to that, he’s goes into an isolation chamber.

“I don’t like my mind being clouded with anyone else’s opinion,” he said.

If he cracked the door, he would hear the Sooners are one of the clear-cut favorites to get a spot in that playoff. The Sooners put themselves in that position with last season’s finish.

The Sporting News has already named OU its preseason No. 1. There are two factors that carry over from the 2013 season that have historically made OU the preseason No. 1 when the Associated Press releases its initial Top 25 in August.

The last four times the Sooners have won a major bowl game and retained its starting quarterback for the following the season, it has started at No. 1.

· In 1985, the Sooners beat Penn State in the Orange Bowl and brought back Jamelle Holieway at quarterback.

· In 1986, OU beat Arkansas in the Orange Bowl and Holieway was returning for his junior season.

· In 2002, OU capped the season with Rose Bowl victory Washington State. With Jason White, who missed most of that season with a knee injury, but was an established starter returning, OU starts 2003 at No. 1.

· In 2010, OU thumps Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl and has Landry Jones returning for another season. OU starts 2011 at No. 1.

There’s no quarterback controversy for the Sooners to sort through in August. Trevor Knight squared that away with his Sugar Bowl offensive MVP performance against Alabama.

Add in a young defense that vastly improved throughout the 2013 season and virtually returns intact and a schedule that is void of any likely preseason top 10 teams, and it’s easy to see why the expectations for this coming season are vast.

Stoops, however, refuses to acknowledge them. Expectations are not part of his process.

“I feel great about our team. I love the chemistry, the work ethic. The way they work through the winter and spring. We have great potential. We’re going to have to have some young people really make a difference,” he said. “That has to happen yet. We need to have a great summer here in the way we train. We need to have a great two-a-days for all that to come to fruition. So it’s early. But I have a great feeling about the team. But again, we’ve got a lot of work to do to get it done.”

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