SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Just flew in from Iowa. Boy, are my arms tired.
Did I really just write that? Well, the average age of Arizona residents is … old. So maybe they’ll go for an old Vaudeville gag instead of something from, say, Russell Brand or Dane Cook.
Anyway, I didn’t get here soon enough to catch the question-and-answer sessions of either Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz or Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops after their teams practiced in the Valley of the Sun on Monday. It sounds like I missed a lot of non-answers.
A tweet out of the Oklahoma deal came from @SoonerScoop, who provided us with this:
Stoops refused to discuss players who have left the program following tonight’s practice in Tempe.
I don’t think SoonerScoop worded that the way he or she meant it. It’s not that players left the program immediately following the practice. Or so I’m guessing. It’s Twitter. There are only so many characters, and when you fire something off quickly … well, let’s just say I’ve mis-worded many a time. Like now, by using a word I just made up called “mis-worded.”
SoonerScoop also gave us this:
The receiver position at OU is officially messed up. They need to sign as many as they can. That group at practice was bizarre looking.
Yet, I continue to hear people ask me if Iowa will get blown out in Friday night’s Insight Bowl. Sure, it could happen, but OU is a team that’s so thin at receiver that it may use its deep snapper there.
The Sooners have all kinds of swirling chatter about players bolting the program. Does that sound like the well-oiled college football killing machine of most of Stoops’ previous 12 years? It sure doesn’t among most Sooner fans.
The use of Twitter among players has even been cited as a reason for the Sooners’ “decline.” Iowa players don’t tweet, at least in-season. They may wish they could, but they can’t. They can post provocative Facebook entries, but those can go down as quickly as they popped up, as Mika’il McCall of Iowa (or at least he was a Hawkeye) showed this weekend.
Secrecy is kind of a big thing with Iowa’s program, as Marc Morehouse’s latest On Iowa entry reminds us.
Morehouse has been here since last Thursday, and has found asking questions like “Who are you considering for defensive coordinator?” and “Why was Marcus Coker suspended for the bowl game?” only run you into an adobe wall.
Today, it was this:
There was a rumor that an Iowa player was sent back to Iowa City because of a disciplinary issue.
“It’s possible, it’s possible,” Ferentz said. “It’s possible.”
OK, so why not just say yes or no? And if the answer is yes, state who it was and be done with it. We’ll all find out by Friday night, anyway, if not sooner.
It’s amazing, any time an Iowa player is on some sort of preseason award watch list or makes an all-academic team, we hear about it pretty quickly. You want to control the news, fine. That’s as American as apple pie, the flag, and tooting on a football field.
This is bowl season. There is attrition, with almost every team. The season is long, there’s a gap between the final regular-season game and the resumption of practices for the bowl, grades come in, some players see themselves going nowhere on their present team, some just check out.
Oklahoma, for instance, has fewer available players than it did on Dec. 3 when it got blasted by Oklahoma State in its final regular-season game. John E. Hoover of the Tulsa World tweeted this on Monday:
Thinking we won’t have to wait til next semester to ask Stoops about latest #Sooners defectors. WRs McClain, McCay, DT Peterson not in Phx.
Justin McCay and Sheldon McClain are redshirt freshmen. Neither had a reception this season, unlike Ryan Broyles and Jaz Reynolds, standout players who are injured and unavailable for Friday’s game. Broyles had 83 catches in OU’s first eight games. Reynolds had 41 receptions for 715 yards.
Torrea Peterson is a redshirt freshman defensive tackle who played in five games and made three tackles.
But Stoops refused to discuss players who have left the program. It’s OK if everyone is interested in them and asks questions about them on the national signing day for letters-of-intent, and it’s OK if people on the spring banquet circuits are interested in them and ask questions about them. Coaches are pretty talkative then. But if players leave the program? No talkie.
Hey, it’s not like these programs need to tell us anything. It’s not like they’re prominent representatives of state universities, going halfway across the nation to carry those universities’ names to bowl games named after a company that offers technology solutions for businesses.
Besides, this is the Insight Bowl. And bowl games are rewards for players. We know this because a million coaches have told us this a million times. They do talk, you know. It may not be about what you want answered, but they talk.