The word on the street is that the Oklahoma Sooners have a bowl game against the Iowa coming up in a little less than two weeks.
The Hawkeyes were far from anyone’s mind on Monday, though, as coach Bob Stoops met with the media for the first time since his team got its doors blown off by Oklahoma State earlier this month. That’s because initial stage of OU’s bloodletting officially came to fruition Monday, as Stoops formally announced the departure of a group of players and hinted that more transfers are on the way.
Travis Haney of The Oklahoman has a comprehensive breakdown of the day’s news and Stoops’ intriguing comments on what’s behind all the roster turnover. OU’s coach listed a host of issues playing out behind the scenes in his locker room, including problems with class attendance and failed drug tests.
Remeber all those vague suspensions players were serving this season? As more and more comes to light, the scuttlebutt about “chemistry issues” plaguing the 2011 OU team gains credence.
You could write all the upheaval off to a few bad apples, but it’s fair to ask if Stoops and his staff lost their grip on this squad. Based on Stoops’ positive evaluation of his coaches, he comes off as satisfied with their performance. Reading between the lines, though, the prospect of ex-defensive coordinator Mike Stoops returning to the staff appears increasingly likely. Do with that what you will.
Either way, expect to see a significant number of new faces in the program in 2012.
Other items of interest:
*OU’s present situation at running back appears perilous. Brandon Williams’ transfer didn’t surprise anyone. Now, however, Haney is reporting that sophomore Brennan Clay is considering leaving.
Clay departing would leave the Sooners with just two experienced tailbacks on the roster heading into 2012. Problem is that diminutive Roy Finch simply doesn’t have the frame to carry the load as a feature back, and the odds that Dom Whaley will be 100 percent coming off of a fractured ankle seem slim.
It should be noted that Stoops said he was unaware of any plans to transfer out on Clay’s part. Even so, OU’s need for another running back who can contribute immediately next season is growing.
*Speaking of thin, OU doesn’t have a tight end on its roster for next season. With Max Stevenson and Austin Haywood now gone, the Sooners have to hope that juco commit Brannon Green will be ready to roll in the spring. OU is also in hot pursuit of talented high schooler Taylor McNamara, and the staff can sell California recruit on his chances of playing immediately.
*The only announcement less surprising than Williams’ transfer was the news that Ronnell Lewis wouldn’t be eligible for the Insight Bowl. If you’ve followed The Hammer’s on again, off again status with the team in the past year, hopefully it has become clear that going to college just wasn’t his thing.
As a likely first-round pick in April’s NFL draft, he won’t have to worry about that. Best of luck to the best eight-man football player in Oklahoma high school history.