John Hoover

John E. Hoover: Sooners coach Bob Stoops on Big 12 championship game: ‘Hey, let’s go’

John E. Hoover: Sooners coach Bob Stoops on Big 12 championship game: ‘Hey, let’s go’

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TULSA — Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops likes the Big 12’s decision last week to add a football championship game.

“I think it’s great,” Stoops said Tuesday during the Sooner Caravan stop at the Schusterman Center. “In the end, probably the main two points, as everyone’s talked about, another data point and dollar figures. You know, $30 million, more to the conference, or whatever percentage to the schools.

“So hey, let’s go.”

Stoops spoke to the media for nearly 15 minutes before attending the annual sold-out fan function. He concluded a coaching Q&A with gymnastics coaches Mark Williams and K.J. Kindler and women’s basketball coach Sherri Coale.

The Big 12 last week took advantage of the NCAA’s decision in January to conditionally deregulate championship games.

OU president David Boren said “the exact details of its implementation” are still be worked out.

That’s pretty nebulous, even for a game 1 ½ years in the future.

A lot of iterations are being considered, but the Big 12 does not have any kind of concrete plan. Among the possibilities are the Big 12 staying at 10 teams and still splitting into some kind of divisional arrangement while still keeping a round-robin schedule.

That could mean a championship game rematch — possibly even just one week after teams meet in the regular season.

“Yeah, that’ll be a little different,” Stoops said. “But I think if you look through a lot of other conferences with championship games, even with separate divisions where you didn’t play everybody, you play the same people again. That’s probably in every league.

“In the end, if that’s the way it has to be, then you make it work one way or the other.”

During Big 12 spring business meetings last week in Irving, Texas, Boren said any decision to split into divisions would be made by the presidents and chancellors, but said he was “hoping the ADs, the coaches, the conference staff” would be involved.

“There’s been a lot of discussion with the ADs,” Boren said. “They’ve been doing creative thinking about how to schedule to make it less likely that the teams would play back-to-back games, finishing the regular season and then facing again in the conference championship. How do we maintain the strongest likelihood of a competitive outcome between the teams in our conference? There are different ways of configuring that. Rather than get into the details of that at the board meeting, we felt it was best to let the ADs and conference staff handle it.”

Stoops said if there are eventually divisional splits, he wants traditional rivalries to be one of the league’s priorities.

“One of the ones I wouldn’t leave out I would think would be Texas or Oklahoma State,” Stoops said. “So that would probably be pretty easy to work through.”

Stoops said last year’s scenario — first-place OU and second-place OSU meeting for the title one week later — “would be different. But now that we know this is coming, they probably would schedule differently. I would guess.”

Stoops also was thankful for the Big 12’s decision to add a rule that doesn’t penalize walk-ons a year of eligibility for transferring within the conference — specifically, the rule that gives OU quarterback Baker Mayfield the 2017 season back.

“I think all along I was optimistic just because it seemed so absolutely correct and right to do,” Stoops said. “If you take Baker Mayfield out of the equation, it’s a 10-0 vote and wouldn’t take probably five minutes to talk through it. But that wasn’t the case. But, I guess I just ultimately believed that right would come through and it’s the right thing to do for all athletes moving forward. Fortunately, it worked out that way.”

Stoops agreed that having Mayfield back for a third year — he also started half of his freshman year at Texas Tech — would be a significant boost to the Sooners roster next year.

“If he decides to stay,” Stoops said. “We’ll see where that all goes. I have confidence in the other young people in our program. We like them as well. In college, quarterbacks leave and graduate and move on. That’s the natural process. That doesn’t ever concern me. That’s just the way that things go in college football.

“You can’t plan for something like that. I said that I was optimistic that right would prevail. You just go through the process and work through it and a lot of hard work I’m sure by President (David) Boren and (athletic director) Joe Castiglione to get people to understand, ‘Look, this is the right thing to do.’ Fortunately, that’s the way it worked.”

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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