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Bob Stoops Talks With Reporters at Big 12 Media Day

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The arrival of Big 12 Media Days marks the start of football season for many people, and there's definitely no lack of excitement from OU fans as the Sooners look to rebound from their conference championship in 2015.

Related: Bedenbaugh And Cooks Promoted To Assistant Coordinators

Along with the positive season last year, the Sooners were voted the favorite to repeat as conference champions in the preseason media poll, while Oklahoma led the league with nine players selected to the Preseason All-Big 12 Football Team. Head football coach Bob Stoops met with the media on Tuesday afternoon for at 20 minutes, you can watch the video of the news conference above, but here are the highlights from his session with reporters: 

Opening statement: “Like all the other seasons, really excited and looking forward to being on the field again with this football team. It’s a group of guys that a good number of them are back from last year’s Big 12 Championship team and final four team. It’s still a new team, still enough new pieces that it’s its own new team altogether. But I’ve been really pleased with the overall intensity and effort in the winter conditioning and spring practices and what they’ve been doing here this summer.”

“I’ve been asked a lot about preseason rankings, it doesn’t matter to us. This is our eighteenth season, we’ve been picked to win, we’ve been picked not to win, but I don’t recall it ever mattering. That none of it matters than the work you put in and what you earn day to day.”

On how long he sees himself coaching: “That’s something you’d ask a guy who’s 65, but I’m only 55, so I don’t see myself anytime soon, that being a question I need to answer. I like to think I’m in really good health, I take care of myself, I can’t wait for this season much like I couldn’t 17 years ago for my first one as a head coach. It’s exciting. You have a new team every year. I can’t wait for it. So hopefully I go another ten years or so.”

On the walk-on transfer rule being changed, and Texas Tech’s vote for a change: “Hats off to Kliff (Kingsbury) and Kirby Holcutt, ultimately it’s the right thing to do. Obviously I’m going to say that, I get that it helps Baker Mayfield, but let’s look beyond one guy, let’s face it, it’s the right thing to do that’s the bottom line. I’m pleased that it worked out that way, not only for Baker but any guy moving forward.”

On his 1-2 punch at running back being the best he’s had in 18 years: “It’s fair to say yes, absolutely. These guys are such all-around players, they’re amazing when you watch the coach’s version, the end zone copy. The holes they pick and the patience they have. Then the obvious is strength and power, and they rarely get caught. They’re unusually fast for that size. So they have it all. They have great hands, so they’re really well rounded guys that way and complement each other I think really well. I’m trying to think of some of the other tandems I’ve had and I don’t think I’ve had two that quality.”

On how he’d like to see the Big 12 divisions split up: “In the end, whatever’s best for the viewership and the fans, I’ll be all for.”

On who he thinks will be leaders on defense with departure of Eric Striker and Zack Sanchez: “I said this almost every year, in college you’re always losing leadership, you’re always losing seniors, and new guys are now in the position to do it. Ahmad Thomas has been a leader for us, Jordan Evans has been a leader for us, those guys are back and doing well. Matt Romar up front is a guy who’s been a strong leader for us up front already. Steven Parker, even though he’s a year younger, he’s a leader in every way in what we’re doing there. So we’ll have other guys who are in a position to do it.”

On if he’s found it difficult to rationalize or justify the existence of Joe Mixon on his roster: “You’re talking about a situation that occurred three summers ago I believe, right? Joe Mixon was punished and we’ve already been through all this. He’s met high standards and continues to have to meet high standards to remain a part of the football team but he has done so all along. So everybody has measures of what’s enough punishment or what’s not. In the end we felt, myself along with our administration, that this was the right punishment, and he’s met all the conditions that we’ve put in front of him, and he was removed for a whole season”

On Kyler Murray’s reaction to Baker Mayfield’s extra year of eligibility: “Kyler’s been nothing but positive. He’s been a positive member of this team in the way he’s worked all the way through the winter and spring. Brings positive energy every day. I’ve seen nothing but positive from Kyler.”

On what he sees at receiver position that can replace Sterling Shepard’s production: “For one, I don’t know if you replace, Sterling was a dynamic, big play guy for us. A Couple of things. I do believe Dede Westbrook and the way he’s performed in the spring and what he’s capable of, he can create more big plays in that type of way this year. Mark Andrews is a guy that everybody was clamoring to get on the field more a year ago, who’s a different style of receiver than Sterling, but was highly effective when he was on the field. He’s a guy that will have a bigger role now. And I believe there are more guys in the room this year that are prepared to play at the receiver position than there were a year ago, so I feel like overall we’ll be able to absorb the absence of Sterling with better play from more guys. Hopefully that’s how it’ll work.”

On why Texas has performed so well against OU in the last three years: “You’re talking how many years back. In this last game they ran the football better than us, they were more physical than us, we didn’t execute well enough on either side of the ball. We had more missed tackles in that game than maybe up until the Clemson game. As well as I didn’t feel like we executed well offensively. We didn’t throw it very well and couldn’t run it.”

On if he notices other schools following his lead and making tougher non-conference schedules: “I can’t speak for the rest of the country, but it’s always been our view, Joe Castiglione and I setting up the schedule, Joe’s always conferred with me on it on who we want to play and I’ve always accepted whatever’s come across. Not only Ohio State these two years, and Houston with it to start the season, but the previous six we just had series with Tennessee, Notre Dame and Florida State. So we’ve always just believed if you’re going to be a top tiered program and one of the better teams in the country play like teams. Challenge yourself. It’s what college football fans around the country want to see. I know it’s what our fans want to see, as long as you win.” Our players are challenged and excited about it as well as us as a coaching staff.”

“I believe it made a difference a year ago. Us getting into the playoff and into the Final Four the fact we went to Tennessee and won. Had we had a lesser opponent that no one cared about, we may not have, who knows.”

On the Big 12 championship game: “I think for the right reasons it’s the right thing to do. It’s been talked a lot about, primarily the thirteenth data point and primarily also everybody gets an extra $3 million, that’s significant. In the end, let’s go play. However they set it up, we’ll be ready to work with it.”

“I’ve been sort of back in forth, just talking through it, that we should just take the top two teams and play again, but that would’ve created a scenario just like last year where we would’ve been playing Oklahoma State immediately after just playing them, so then you’re saying it’s better off just to go to divisions, and then you may not be playing the top two teams, you may be playing a team in one division that may have more losses than the two in the other division, so I’ve sort of been back and forth on that. So obviously I don’t know how to set it up.”

On how comfortable he is with true freshman Austin Kendall as his backup QB: “Really loved what he did, having him here all winter and spring was a big boost because he’s in the situation. He did a great job through the spring, I was really pleased with him. Really smart in his decision making, avoided the bad plays for a guy just out of high school. Talented arm. I feel good about him. He’s only going to keep improving and getting better. Coach Riley does a great job with those guys, so I feel good about Austin and the spring he had and the summer he’s having right now.”

On the possibility of an OU/TX rematch in a conference championship game: “Obviously if we’re in different divisions, then hey, let’s go again. That’d be exciting. Why wouldn’t it be? Two’s better than one, right? Usually anyway.”

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