COLUMN: Relationship between Stoops and media a two-way street
OU football coach Bob Stoops is known for many things around Sooner Nation, but being a welcoming friend of the media certainly isn’t one of them.
When it comes to dealing with the media, Stoops’ reputation precedes him.
His terse responses and uncomfortably tense halftime interviews have greatly contributed to earning him a reputation of hostility toward anyone with a microphone, camera or a pad and pen.
Too often, fans have seen a short answer during a press conference or a heated exchange with a reporter, and most members of the media have experienced both firsthand.
But try on Stoops’ visor for a spell, and his apprehension to be candid in front of the media is understandable, if not justifiable.
He is, after all, the most second-guessed man in the state.
All of the armchair coaches and Sunday-morning quarterbacks criticize Stoops with the benefit of perfect hindsight, claiming they know how to do the job better than a man with 129 wins, seven conference championships and a national title to his name.
But from the media’s perspective, Stoops is defensive and lacks a stomach for criticism.
Whichever side is right is of little importance. What is important is the rift that lies between Stoops and the media.
Sit in on a few interviews, and you begin to acquire an ear for the questions Stoops will sidestep or just flat-out not answer. Pose a question that’s critical of Stoops or a player, and you’re walking on eggshells.
Stoops understands that working with the media is an inconvenient, albeit necessary, part of his job, and he conducts himself in a manner that doesn’t hide that understanding.
With that in mind, Stoops’ reputation seems to be a simple misunderstanding.
But it’s much more than that. It’s two parties sticking to their guns — Stoops on one side, the media on the other — and neither side appears willing to budge.
The media will keep asking questions Stoops doesn’t like, and he’ll continue to not answer them.
A longtime member of the media once said that if Stoops wanted, he could be Switzer: A charismatic coach loved by fans and media alike. All he needed to do was let the media in.
But people need to realize that he isn’t Switzer, and he never will be.
He’s going to run his team his way, answer questions however he wants and vehemently defend himself whenever his decision-making is questioned. And there’s nothing anyone — the media, especially — can do to change that.
Dillon Phillips is a journalism junior and assistant sports editor for The Daily. You can follow him on Twitter at @DillonPhillips_.