Tahlequah Daily Press

College Sports

June 10, 2014

Summers now about instruction for Sooners

A tradition developed every late July among college football coaches. They would meet the media en masse for the first time since April, but all questions regarding the current team’s health, fitness or work habits were quickly deflected.

An NCAA rule prevented coaches from attending any workouts with players in the summer months.

However, that changes for football on Monday. As long as the player is enrolled in summer classes, coaches can work with him for two hours a week.

OU coach Bob Stoops doesn’t believe the rule will alter his team’s summer routine. The conditioning program operated by sports enhancement director Jerry Schmidt will remain in place.

“I don’t want to change our conditioning, speed, strength training regiment. It’s been very positive for us,” Stoops said.

What Stoops envisions is using about 90 minutes for some extra football tutoring with younger players.

“To have meetings with freshmen or new guys to go over tape and teach a little bit of what you are allowed to do,” Stoops said. “They’ll be able to be coached up with terminology and what we are doing quicker with us helping them.”

Summer workouts have become mainstays in both football and basketball and most other sports over the last two decades. Long gone are the days of players going home for a two-month summer break.

“If you are going to compete at this level, it’s a year-round process,” Stoops said. “When I played however many years ago, you go home for the summer, paint houses, work out when you could and come back and still be OK; that’s not the way of the world now. You try and do that now and you’re not going to play. Someone else is going beat you out or you are going to get hurt.”

The offseason conditioning program has been a staple of OU’s program for all 15 of Stoops’ seasons as head coach. But it was strictly run by the strength and conditioning coaches. Football coaches, including Stoops, could not interact or observe the workouts.

The NCAA amended the rule for basketball coaches last year. What OU men’s basketball coach Lon Kruger noticed was the practice time wasn’t necessarily immensely beneficial to players on the court. But the relationship with the coaching staff improved.

“You’re around them two or three times a week in a way you wouldn’t be otherwise just in conversation and checking on how things are going on campus and back home,” he said. “Just the opportunity to see them more frequently is as much of a bonus as the basketball part of it is.”

OU women’s coach Sherri Coale is looking forward to that beginning this week. She spent much of last summer coaching Team USA in the World University Games in Russia.

Coale has signed five freshmen for this coming season’s team. This an opportunity to build a relationship with them that otherwise would’ve had to wait until the fall semester.

“You get to know kids in a way that’s a little less intimidating than just sitting in an office and having a conversation,” she said. “You get to develop a relationship.”

Stoops wants to use that additional time in the same manner. He wants to be in the weight room when his guys are working out to encourage. Stoops also wants to be there when discipline is needed.

“I was out there a couple of years ago to run three or four guys for missing multiple classes and was told I’m not allowed to,” he said. “… I wanted to head that off by giving them some punishment by running, but found out I’m not allowed to do that. So now, because of class issues and things like that, I can be there. I can say ‘wait a minute, you’ve missed two classes this week, what’s going on?’ All right, if you’d rather do some running rather than go to class … those kinds of things seem to be common sense. But they haven’t been.”

It also means when Stoops arrives in Dallas next month for Big 12 Football Media Days, he no longer has to evade questions about his team’s offseason work for fear of an NCAA reprisal. No one should be in the dark anymore.

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