TULSA -- With the start of the summer sessions of classes at Oklahoma, Sooner coach Bob Stoops is being afforded a luxury he's never had as a head coach at any juncture in his career.
According to a new NCAA rule adopted by the Division I board of directors, college coaches will have the ability to participate in summer workouts for an eight-week period.
During that period, players enrolled in summer courses can go through up to eight hours a week of strength and conditioning training and up to eight hours per week of film review. A similar rule has been in place for men's and women's basketball for the last two years.
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The rule change ultimately gives coaching staffs the ability to continually interact with players and greater autonomy as programs while allowing newcomers the chance to get a head start on the challenges that come with being a student-athlete.
Stoops highlighted the benefit of having such a rule in place for his program, though, he said the strength and conditioning program OU coach Jerry Schmidt has in place won't change much. What will change is the amount of time he spends with his players.
"So I'm going to do my best to steal an hour and half to have meeting with freshmen or new guys to go over tape and teach a little bit, which you're allowed to do in the classroom," he said. "So they'll be able to be coached up with terminology and what we're doing a little quicker with us helping them and or even some freshmen and sophomores, too, who haven't played much."
Being permitted to interact with his players will allow Stoops and his staff to not only get to know and encourage their players but also head off potential problems before the season starts.
Stoops related a story at OU's Caravan stop at the Schusterman Center on Thursday night about how odd it was that he couldn't personally oversee a conditioning session for a few players who had missed class two years ago. He doesn't think it's right that players could miss class without suffering consequences.
"Well, they'll get suspended from games in our case, but I wanted to head that off by giving them some punishment running, and I found out I'm not able to do it," Stoops said.
"So now, because of classes, I can be there to say 'Wait a minute. You missed two classes this week. What's going on? All right, well let's get on the line. We'd rather do some running than go to class.' Those kinds of things seem to be common sense, but they haven't been."
Stoops favors an early signing period, particularly with a greater number of high school players choosing to enroll in college at the start of the spring semester. Isaac Ijalana, Devante Bond, Dimitri Flowers and Justice Hansen all enrolled at OU in January.
Stoops acknowledged that every recruit is different in his commitment, in how he wants to go about picking and signing with a school. But in the cases of those young men who are choosing to start their collegiate careers a full six months earlier than most, there should be some system in place that allows them to enjoy the Signing Day experience.
"Well, those high school kids should have a chance to sign, so they can have their moment in the sun and their signing period at December 19 or 20, whatever it is coordinated around the junior college kids signing," Stoops said. "That, to me, makes the most sense, and they ought to have the opportunity to do that if they want. If they don't, then you wait until February."
HEALTH OF THE TEAM
Stoops said all the players who were injured during spring practice, or didn't participate in spring practices because of a prior injury, are in good shape heading into the summer. Even senior guard Tyler Evans, who has endured two anterior cruciate ligament surgeries, is participating in the summer workouts.
As for junior linebacker Frank Shannon, Stoops said he's on the team and participating in team workouts and functions. But the university is still conducting its review into whether Shannon broke the code of conduct as defined in the OU student-athlete handbook.
"There's no one way or the other," Stoops. "That's a process that's still ongoing. That's it."