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Patrick Hruby

Bob Stoops: Disingenuous, or Just Plain Dumb?

An open challenge to the amateurism-defending Oklahoma football coach

Sports on Earth

As a persistent critic of college sports amateurism, I’m grateful for people like Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops. Because they make my case for me, largely by offering unfathomably dunderheaded defenses of the status quo. (See also: Jay Paterno.)

In case you missed it, Sporting News published a story yesterday in which Stoops offered a prickly, paternalistic, self-satisfied endorsement of the current NCAA model. There’s a whole lot to take issue with, from Stoops’ assertion that college football players are “paid quite often, quite a bit and quite handsomely” — does Stoops realize that: a) getting paid a below-market rate due to collusive wage suppression is not exactly “handsome”; b) his admitting that scholarships do constitute a form of payment for work performed completely undercuts the bogus rationale for amateurism in the first place? – to his tough s— declaration that “I tell my guys all the time you’re not the first one to spend a hungry Sunday without any money.”

That said, the single dumbest remark in Stoops’ avalanche of idiocy deserves special comment. Here’s the $4 million-plus coach on why his on-field labor force doesn’t deserve a bigger cut of the athletic department revenues their brain damage-risking work directly generates:

When Sam Bradford was in the middle of his Heisman Trophy winning season in 2008, Stoops pulled his star quarterback aside one day after practice and decided to make a point.

“Sam Bradford was one of the most humble and grounded players I’ve ever been around; he got it,” Stoops said. “But I even told him, what makes you think those fans in the stands are wearing No. 14 for you? Who says it’s not an old Josh Heupel jersey? I tell our guys all the time. It could be you — or it could be anyone else.

“Those 70,000 fans in the stadium are cheering and buying tickets to see Oklahoma.”

Look, university branding and affiliation is a big part of why college sports have fan interest and generate financial value. School athletic departments certainly deserve a cut of the profits, and some say over how they are distributed. They do not, however, deserve to sit at the top of a neo-fedual economic arrangement because it could be you — or it could be anyone else.

This is disingenuous. Demonstrably false. Downright laughable, really. If Stoops was more full of it, he would qualify as a human sewage treatment plant. Sure, fans cheer and tune in and buy tickets to see Oklahoma — but they also do all of that to see Oklahoma win. And winning takes talent. Rare athletic talent. College football is not the same as working the drive-thru window. It is not an entry-level greeter job at Wal-Mart. It can’t be done by “anyone else.” If it could, Oklahoma and other schools wouldn’t spend a minute or a cent desperately wooing the biggest, fastest and most-skilled high school football players, and National Signing Day wouldn’t serve as Christmas II: Lid Boogaloo in some parts of the country.

As such, I’m issuing an open challenge to Stoops. A wager. If Stoops wins, I’ll apologize for likening his remarks and logic to the thoughtful musings of a half-eaten bowl of clam chowder; if I win, Stoops has to take and pass an Economics 101 course. Here are the terms: Replace all 85 of Oklahoma’s scholarship football players the roster of a NAIA school. Or just replace them with randomly selected Oklahoma students. Literally anyone else. After all, that’s how little economic value a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback like Sam Bradford has, right?

If Stoops’ team subsequently has a winning record next season — heck, if Stoops manages to keep his job for the entirety of next season — I lose. If not, I win. I like my odds. How about it, coach?

Read the original article at Sports on Earth