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July 2, 2014
Alternate uniform haters should take a lesson from Bob Stoops
I've been pleasantly surprised at how the fans on the site have reacted to the news of OU's alternate uniforms. I was expecting meltdown central. It has been far from that.
But I can also sympathize with those who hate the idea that OU's traditional uniforms are not enough to impress recruits these days.
Maybe you're upset that the uniforms look gaudy, maybe you're upset that OU has to cater and pander to high school recruits who should feel privileged to be able to play at a place like Oklahoma.
Maybe you feel like the school is taking you, the fan, for granted because you take pride in the traditional OU uniform and they aren't showing your support the respect it deserves?
Maybe you're just angry that today's society has come to this.
I don't know your reason for hating OU's new "alternate" uniforms, but we all have our 'get off my lawn' moments in life.
And what if I told you a lot of those things you hate about this whole situation are true? A lot of them are.
I get into this debate with people all the time when they are upset at the way a player is playing or a coach is coaching. I tell people, 'Do you really think that player or coach isn't just as upset as you are, or more upset than you, when something goes wrong?'
Of course they are. It's their job. It's their profession. It's their reputation on the line.
College coaches are very intense people.
College athletes are very prideful people.
The pressure to win can make all of them crack.
Bob Stoops is a coach that believes in discipline and structure. Back in the days you could watch practice, you'd see Stoops run the same type of practice over and over, year after year.
Some things have changed, but today's practices aren't that drastically different from the ones in 1999. There are slightly different drills, slightly different periods and some different coaches of course.
But Stoops always had a blueprint for winning. The biggest change in the last 15 years has come in the players. There is absolutely no doubt players have changed dramatically.
I can't tell you how many times a kid has asked me if I could shout him out on Twitter so I could help him get more followers over the last few years. Recruits publicly crave attention like never before.
Recruits and their families are constantly reminded, because of lawsuits, scandals, etc., how much they are worth to a university. Rivals.com flies recruits out to the Five-Star Challenge every year to remind recruits of how special they are.
Nike does the same flying recruits out to Oregon.
Recruits are talked about on ESPN before they even reach college. Twitter turns them into Internet celebrities before they ever finish getting scholarship offers.
This is not an argument about the system being broken. This is a realization that coaches like Bob Stoops have to operate in a much different environment than 1999.
I know you don't see this anymore, but coaches still yell at players in practice. They still have to coach these guys once they get on campus. They still have to mold 'Johnny Five Star' as Brent Venables used to call them, into guys that can make plays on Saturdays.
Don't you think it's frustrating for college coaches to have to play this game with recruits they will soon be yelling at on a practice field?
Stoops once vowed he'd never have a public Twitter account. That was just a couple of short years ago.
As of today, Stoops has sent out 430 tweets and has over 53,000 followers.
Coaches are bending and reshaping their approach to recruiting all the time. They are changing to be more like recruits instead of recruits changing to be more like the coaches.
Stoops became a public figure, even when he resisted just a short time ago.
Alternate uniforms, waterfall hot tubs, fancy living quarters, private tutors and opulent stadiums were not things Bob Stoops was interested in discussing several years ago.
He probably knew he still had to coach these guys after all the butt-kissing they did to sign them in the first place. He probably knew it was going to be harder molding these youngsters into winners if he had a bunch of recruits that picked a school based on a fancy weight rooms or golden chromed helmets.
If you think Stoops is a man that doesn't value tradition than you don't know anything about him.
Stoops wanted to keep relationships with recruits under wraps. He wanted to keep the outside world outside. He didn't want to do anything that looked like a gimmick.
I guarantee the fans who are upset about OU trampling on traditions aren't realizing what these changes have meant for Bob Stoops and the rest of the OU coaching staff.
They've all changed dramatically over the last several years. They've all done it against their will initially, maybe even kicking and screaming.
In the end, as Stoops is apt to say, those of you who hate the uniforms aren't so different from your head coach. He valued traditions but he found a way to change with the times.
It's just an alternate uniform that you hate, but it's also a symbol of a head coach willing to roll with the punches after 15 years at Oklahoma.