The start of the college football season is still a month away, but University of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops seems primed and ready for his Sooners to take the field.
Stoops had plenty to say on a wide array of topics during a visit to ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, on Wednesday. ESPN's Brett McMurphy documented some of Stoops' comments, many of which could be viewed as shots at the SEC.
The Big 12 scored a major coup last season when Stoops led Oklahoma past heavily favored Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban has tried to downplay the surprising 45-31 loss by claiming that his team didn't view the game as an important one, according to McMurphy:
Nick Saban said playing OU last year had to convince team "getting them to try to play in consolation game"— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) July 22, 2014
That understandably caught Stoops' attention since it essentially detracted from what his team accomplished. Stoops fired back Wednesday by claiming that Saban's comments were disingenuous:
Stoops on Saban’s consolation game quote: “Didn’t look like it 1st series. They looked ready to play. Everyone thought they would rout us"— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) July 23, 2014
He also bashed Saban's seemingly carefree attitude toward bowl games other than the national championship game:
Stoops on Saban’s consolation game quote: “So if I’m not in a national championship game, that means I’ve got a built in excuse"— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) July 23, 2014
Despite the fact that Oklahoma had a great offensive game plan and executed it to perfection against Alabama last season, many were left wondering if extenuating circumstances such as Bama's supposed lack of enthusiasm for the contest played a role in the result.
Stoops made it quite clear, however, that Oklahoma's win was as legitimate and meaningful as can be:
Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops on Sugar Bowl win vs. Alabama: “It wasn’t fluky"— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) July 23, 2014
Stoops' criticism began with Alabama, but it didn't end there. The SEC as a whole felt the wrath of Stoops as well. The SEC is widely considered to be the premier conference in college football, but Stoops suggested that it was a facade in some cases.
More specifically, he poked fun at some of the cupcake opponents on Texas A&M's nonconference schedule:
Bob Stoops mentions Texas A&M’s non-conference schedule: “Lamar, Rice, SMU, La-Monroe. Those are all a bunch of toughies"— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) July 23, 2014
That led ESPN's Joe Schad to praise Stoops' entertainment value as his assessment of Texas A&M's schedule was rife with sarcasm:
Bob Stoops humor is underrated. Nice when we see it.— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) July 22, 2014
It shouldn't come as a big surprise that Stoops ripped the Aggies since they were once one of the Sooners' chief rivals in the Big 12. With that said, Stoops may not have much of a leg to stand on as it pertains to his schedule.
Oklahoma's only SEC opponent this season is cellar-dweller Tennessee, while other nonconference opponents include Louisiana Tech and Tulsa. Those two teams won a combined seven games last year, so the expectation is that the Sooners should roll them.
Oklahoma is always one of the most heavily covered and scrutinized programs in college football, but Stoops' comments put an even bigger target on the squad ahead of the upcoming season. Oklahoma is favored to win the Big 12 this year, and anything short of that will be considered a big disappointment.
If Oklahoma and Alabama meet in the College Football Playoff, who will win?
That also happens to put the Sooners in prime position to potentially qualify for the inaugural College Football Playoff. In a perfect world, that could lead to a rematch between Oklahoma and Alabama in either the semifinals or the national championship game.
It would certainly be poetic considering the budding rivalry between Stoops and Saban. Stoops claims that his win over Bama wasn't a fluke, while Saban believes things would have been different if there was more on the line.
Something has to give, and perhaps it will come during bowl season.
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