By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle
Maybe they should change the name of Oklahoma head football coach Bob Stoops’ weekly show from “Sooner Sports Talk” to “The Sooner you don’t call, the better.” It seems Stoops doesn’t have the time, patience or energy to be bothered with questions from OU’s legion of fans. The only one talking apparently will be King Bob.
The show, ostensibly co-hosted by Toby Rowland, airs Tuesdays on radio and on Sooner Sports TV, and up until recently, was a call-in show. But it’s hard to control the show when you have to put up with those irritating fans who may ask some tough questions.
You know, those fans who fork over their hard-earned cash to support OU football through ticket purchases, pay-per-views and memorabilia that go a long way in footing the tab for Stoops’ annual $4.55 million salary so he can live like a king, can be such a nuisance. How dare they demand answers? Toss those offending peasants into the moat.
Stoops, according to a published newspaper report, apparently decided after talking with Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville and finding out Double-T didn’t have to deal with callers on his show, that, shoot, this is Oklahoma, and if the yokels in Lubbock don’t have access to their coach, why should he, the exalted honcho at one of the most storied football programs in the land, have to lower himself to dealing with the common rabble?
“Just because we may lose a game, that isn’t going to give someone the right to call it what they want if I don’t agree with the perception or if I don’t feel it’s correct,” Stoops said in the published report. “I don’t have to sit there and take it, whether it’s a fan or whether it’s a media person.”
Don’t dare question the king. But, wait, it’s not just the questioning fans Stoops doesn’t have time for, it’s also the media.
One can rest assured that doesn’t apply to the sycophant media types who serve as “yes men” and carry the water for Stoops in order to stay in his good graces and maintain access. No, those folks always will be welcome. Just as adoring, wide-eyed fans who swoon in the mere presence of King Bob always will be welcome. As long as they shut their mouths, bow and look up adoringly at their leader.
Stoops is not alone among collegiate coaches who see themselves as beyond reproach. It’s been that way for as long as college football has been a big-time sport, but seems to have gotten worse in this era of lucrative contracts.
Admittedly, being a successful collegiate football coach requires a fair amount of brashness and unwavering self-confidence in the face of criticism, but that should not rise to the level of being an unquestionable deity. Even in Oklahoma.
Fans, and media, actually are partially to blame as well for too often treating coaches in an awestruck manner.
But the media can handle itself. Dealing with contentious collegiate coaches is part of the deal.
However, fans deserve better. They are the real lifeblood of any successful collegiate football program. Can some ask irritating, foolish questions? Sure. But they have earned the right to at least ask a respectable question and receive a respectable answer in return.
Stoops needs to choke back his ego and pick up the phone. The voice on the other end helps pay his salary.
Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.