John Hoover

Ask Hoover: Sooners defense, Tulsa’s troubles, Gundy’s hair (and his contract) and … basketball?

Ask Hoover: Sooners defense, Tulsa’s troubles, Gundy’s hair (and his contract) and … basketball?

Does having a new defensive coordinator now mean Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray wouldn’t miss this tackle of Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger if the teams rematch for the Big 12 championship in Arlington? (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

Time again for Ask Hoover, the weekly blog where I answer your college football questions, and then during Friday night’s show, Colby Powell and I will discuss the best questions from 6-7 on The Franchise Drive.

Only, this week Colby will discuss solo as I’m squeezing in a couple days of vacation.

I know it seems like a bad time to take a break. Midway point of the college football season, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Tulsa all coming off a loss, lots of questions to answer.

But no vacation shall infringe on the public’s need to know. Let’s get to the questions.


Um, one?

Arkansas is historically bad. It’s been since 1976 that Tulsa last defeated the Razorbacks in football. I’m calling it: TU takes down the Hogs this week in Fayetteville.

Tulsa has grown from so many close losses. It’s time this team wins a game.


If you think drinking will help after a Tulsa football loss, I’d suggest you drink in moderation. Let’s just say your liver will thank you. Please drink responsibly.


I wouldn’t worry about which high school or junior college quarterbacks are coming in next year. Those guys won’t be an immediate fix.

The 2019 season at TU is all about Zach Smith, the Baylor transfer who threw for 400-plus against Oklahoma last year. I know, I know. Everybody threw for 400-plus on Oklahoma last year, right? But Smith is a good quarterback, and he’ll give the Golden Hurricane offense a real boost next year.

To answer your question, Tulsa’s QB for 2018 was Davis Brin, a 6-2, 185-pound three-star prospect from Boerne, Texas. There is not one committed yet for 2019, though Philip Montgomery is reportedly on some good ones.


I don’t remember much from high school algebra, but what’s the value less than zero?


In the fourth quarter of last week’s home loss to South Florida, Tulsa played what I call a “prevent offense,” where the coach is so afraid to fail that he goes into an ultra-conservative shell. TU’s defense had played well the first three quarters against USF, and Montgomery had reason to believe they could get just one more stop at some point. They didn’t, the Bulls found life and the rest is misery.

Yes, very much like Lincoln Riley became ultra-conservative in the Rose Bowl.

I’ll say this: It’s easy to coach from our couch. When you have everything invested in the process of winning a football game, I’d venture to say it’s a lot more difficult to be aggressive with a lead.

Two years ago, maybe even last year, bumping the QB after a throw was nowhere close to a penalty. Now, unfortunately, it is. We all hate the call, but the sad truth is it was the right call for today’s football climate. That’s what football is now. Defensive players need to be taught the value of not hitting the quarterback.

Good question.

One showed promise and hope by an underdog against a ranked team, only to be snatched away by conservative play-calling, shaky defense and a whistle or two.

The other showed a lifeless effort by an uninspired favorite, a team that clearly reflects the head coach and his tepid mannerisms.

Both losses stink, but for different reasons.

Even in the world of overpaid coaches and overhyped mullets, that one goes down as a bad hair day for Mike Gundy. We’re more than two years into this thing and I still don’t get it.

Hmm. A lot, probably. West Virginia’s probably not as good as we (I) thought. Texas is probably better than we (I) thought. Oklahoma has the same problems it’s had for several years, and let’s credit Lincoln Riley for taking drastic and necessary steps to fix them (though it probably came a bit too late). Iowa State still struggles with anyone and yet can beat anyone. Oklahoma State lost a ton of talent and the defense, despite a new coordinators, has settled back into mediocrity. TCU can play decent defense but has a turnover-prone quarterback. KU, K-State and Baylor aren’t very good, though Baylor certainly shows a spark.

Actually, that sounds a lot like what we’ve always thought about the Big 12.

Well, and Texas Tech does seem to look a little different.

The answer to your question: almost certainly.

For a weekend in which at least half the teams are playing, yes. Here’s a story I wrote for Sporting News this week with a deep dive inside the numbers and why this trend is happening.

See answer below.

On the surface, yes. Absolutely. Lincoln Riley should consider going after Jon Heacock. But let’s take a cursory look at what Heacock is working with at Iowa State: 2- and 3-star prospects. At Oklahoma, he’d had 4- and 5-star prospects. Does he automatically produce the same results with players who come in with recruiting accolades and nothing to prove and a sense of entitlement? Or does Heacock get the most out of gritty grinders who play with a chip on their shoulder? I know that’s a broad generalization, but I think we can start there and work our way up.

With great Twitter followers, comes great responsibility.

Not sure if you meant suites, or suits, Harry. About the same to you and me, I suppose.

Yes, and I predict sooner than later, Oklahoma will start selling beer to the common folk at Memorial Stadium concession stands. My guess is they’ll do something special like bring in local craft breweries as well. OU will still try to take the high road on this, however, and probably will impose strict limits.

Please drink responsibly.

Predictably, Lincoln Riley is keeping it close to the vest. I’m guessing we see a bit more of the true four-man fronts. That’s Ruffin McNeill’s history, anyway. Ruff probably will throw caution to the wind a bit and blitz more than Mike Stoops did. Doubtful we’ll see any real radical changes. Just a guess.

Not sure I understand the question.

If you mean this year, no, absolutely not. He’ll finish what he started, even if what he started was intended to win a Big 12 and national championship. I mean, he did get pretty wispy after losing to Texas, and maybe that’s not a feeling he wants to experience again. But Murray’s not going to run away to play baseball just because his team loses.

If you mean after this year, then you can be assured he’s leaving and will be playing baseball next year no matter how this season turns out.

OK, I’ll try this one at a time.

I asked Mike Gundy on Monday why they don’t QB sneaks more often. He said for the low number of snaps under center his team might run during a game, it doesn’t make sense to spend any of the limited amount of practice time teams get doing it during the week. I, for one, couldn’t disagree more. Especially when the payoff comes in first downs and touchdowns.

We’ve asked Gundy about extra blockers, fullbacks, tight ends, cowboy backs, cowgirl backs, the whole thing, and he said they won’t help. Again, not sure I could disagree more, especially when the offensive line has proven it simply can’t block as a five-man unit. Give those guys some help.

I’m not sure what the barrier is. Maybe it’s Gundy. Maybe it’s the athletic director, Mike Holder, going public with the sentiment that the players already on campus weren’t ranked high enough as recruits for his liking. Maybe it’s the isolation of Stillwater. (See Manhattan, Kansas, or Lubbock, Texas, or any such locale.) Maybe it’s the lack of championship tradition. OSU is not a blueblood. I’ve always wondered this myself. So have a lot of Orange Nation.

OSU plays Ouachita Baptist in an exhibition on Nov. 4. Regular season starts Nov. 10 at Charlotte. Enjoy the hoops.

The guess here is yes. We’ve seen OU teams get hot down the stretch and make the playoff two of the last three years. The CFP selection committee wants bluebloods, and OU is as blue as it gets. TV suits want that brand recognition, and there’s not a lot of brands bigger than OU. Sooner Nation needs to hope West Virginia and Texas finish as strong as possible. Beating a couple of top 10 teams back to back and winning a fourth straight Big 12 title would probably do the trick, although I always say this: from where OU is right now, it’ll depend on what happens in other leagues around the country.

Last December, Gundy signed a contract extension for five years at $5 million a year. So just this side of $25 million.


See above question. He just signed a contract for $25 million. I think that answers both questions. His seat is not hot because the school just extended him and gave him a raise, and he’s coming across as apathetic probably because he basically just got $25 million in the bank. He said Monday he’s having more fun than he ever has as a coach. So, yeah.

I’m not sure it’s time to pull the plug just yet on Radley-Hiles as a safety. I’d drop him a lot closer to the line of scrimmage a la Roy Williams and tell him to go cause trouble. The drawback, however, is that the Sooners’ safeties aren’t great. Robert Barnes could man that spot, though, and Radley-Hiles roll down.

It’s a personal preference thing. I think Mike Stoops was better suited for upstairs because his sideline demeanor ground the players down. McNeill is a lot more patient and tolerable on the sideline, so he might work better there. However, he might prefer to be upstairs where he can better diagnose the passing schemes.

Another basketball question!

I actually have interviewed Calixte and Reynolds about their new roles in Norman. Should be coming soon to Reaves, the transfer from Wichita State, is the only one not eligible this season. Kuath is a JC transfer, and the others are grad transfers.

Enjoy the hoops!


Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “The Franchise Drive” every weeknight from 6-8 on The Franchise in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and appears throughout the day on other shows on The Franchise. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Hoover also covers the Big 12 for Sporting News and Lindy’s magazine and is a feature writer for Sooner Spectator magazine. Visit his personal page at



John Hoover

Hoover wrote for the Tulsa World for 24 years before joining The Franchise, where he's now co-host of "Further Review" on The Franchise Tulsa (weekdays 12-3, fm107.9/am1270) . In his time at the World, Hoover won numerous writing and reporting awards, including in 2011 National Beat Writer of the Year from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work covering the Oklahoma Sooners. Hoover also covered Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oral Roberts and the NFL as a beat writer. From 2012 to 2016, Hoover was the World's lead sports columnist. As a columnist, Hoover won national awards in 2012 and 2014 from the National Athletic Trainers Association for reporting on sports medicine and in 2015 won first place in sports columns from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists. After receiving a journalism degree from East Central University, Hoover worked at newspapers in Ada, Okmulgee, Tahlequah and Waynesville, Mo. He played football at Ada High School and grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Hoover and his family live in Broken Arrow.

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