One of my favorite guys in the business, Bryan Fischer of CBS's Eye on College Football, got a chance to talk to Bob and Mike Stoops as the Sooners go through spring practice. The interview was great as the brothers talked about being reunited and how Mike has designs on getting the OU defense back to where he, his brother and the Sooner faithful deem acceptable.
The Sooners should be ready to go, they will get great teaching from Mike Stoops and this defense, with the talent they have, they should be among the Big 12's best units.
However, the most striking part of the interview was Mike Stoops' candid discussion of the Arizona job and his situation in Tucson:
"We may have got it as good as it can get. You have to be realistic with what your expectations are and you should have high expectations, I certainly did. But what you're capable of and what the circumstances that are dealt to you, it's hard to achieve those big goals of winning a championship there," Stoops said of his time at Arizona. "There's a reason they haven't won a championship at Arizona and it's not bad coaching or bad players. You can blame it on anything you want, football and championships are about commitments made university wide. It's a commitment made to winning, not at all costs but there is a cost.
"When you don't have a football facility and every Mountain West team has one and you don't, that's a problem. We were playing at a BCS level and I feel like I was fighting with a toothpick and they've got a bat."
Pretty damning words from the former head coach of the Wildcats. Words that could easily be sloughed off as sour grapes from a guy who could not get the job done when it came to pushing Arizona to the next level. But the fact of the matter is, regardless of where you stand on Stoops' firing, he's right. Plain and simple the man speaks the truth.
College football is an arms race and now, more than ever, teams have to be equipped to compete at the highest level if success is the goal. Yes, coaching matters. Yes, recruiting matters. But, in a BCS Conference where your weekly opponents have winning on their minds, you can't expect top tier results if the athletes and staff are not working with the best. It's like pedaling a Huffy while everyone else wheels BMC Time Machines.
In addition to scraping profits off the top and blowing up coaching salaries, the college football cash grab is about reinvesting in the program. Spending that money on upgrades for facilities, new facilities and new technology; in short "keeping up with the Joneses" or in this case the Alabama, Texas and Oregon types of the world.
To be fair Arizona is seeking to rectify the situation through building a $72 million dollar facility. Which is great and that should help with Rich Rodriguez's efforts in Tucson. The point here is this is a start. For a school in a state that doesn't produce a ton in the way of elite talent their commitment must be a continuous showing. Put another way, what the Wildcats are doing now is an effort to catch up to the college football world, as they catch up the programs ahead of them are improving.
When you're behind the curve from a facilities standpoint it is more like a game of "Catching up to the Joneses" than "Keeping up with the Joneses." Programs like Oregon and USC are not standing still, just when you think you've caught up they are getting better and that means you have to play catch up all over again.
Commitment matters folks. It matters to the coaches that you want to hire. It matters to the kids that you want to recruit. It matters to how successful you can be at maximizing the talent and teaching that you have at your disposal. Take a look at your respective program and figure out how committed your school is to giving your coaches and athletes the best tools for success that they can muster.