CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Despite getting in for only a dozen plays, backup quarterback Blake Bell was named the Insight Bowl offensive MVP by ESPN. While meeting with a small pool of reporters Saturday morning, Bob Stoops admitted he was stunned after first hearing that. And implied that Landry Jones warranted that honor.
“How many times has he really been hit hard? He didn't even take a shower after the game,” Stoops said. “Landry's in there getting showered up... after the press conference. He’s getting on to Blake because he isn't taking a shower. (Bell) says, 'What? I only played nine or 10 plays.' And he gets the MVP. Can you believe they gave it to him? Geez, oh man.”
Jones completed 16 of 25 passes for only 161 yards. Bell, meanwhile, rushed for 51 yards on 10 carries and three touchdowns. But Stoops said it was Jones who got Bell in position to make some of those plays.
“It’s nothing against Blake, so don’t phrase it that way, either. We love the guy and what he does is really special. But the other guy’s been out there, getting sacked, getting his tooth chipped and bringing us down there (to the end zone). Just because it’s on the 5, and everyone knows we want to run it, you find the best way you can run it -- and that’s getting the extra (blocker).”
IN THE DAYS LEADING up to the game, Stoops was critical of the players that weren’t allowed to make the trip with the team to Arizona. But Saturday, Stoops made clear that he wasn’t referring to defensive end Ronnell Lewis in any of those comments.
Lewis missed OU’s final two games because of academic suspension, and is expected to declare for the NFL draft.
“Ronnell did an awesome job for us. He has had more to manage as a young guy just overall family-wise. So I’m not at all displeased with Ronnell,” Stoops said. “I feel bad. I thought of that the other day. I think everybody is maybe mistaken. He has done about all he can. I think as much as anything, he felt with all he’s had to manage, he’s done all he can with his family to be there for everybody. He’s done, from what I can gather, a good job of it. I don’t know that he could have been here for five days, with all he has to deal with there.
“I think he’s really done a great job for us. It’s why I feel he needs to go on to the NFL. I’m not at all displeased with Ronnell. I’m remiss not to have said that earlier. The perception out there should be positive for him.”
THE INSIGHT BOWL featured a curious ending, when defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright became the only assistant to get doused with Gatorade. Mike Stoops in the meantime was chummy with the OU coaches and players after the game, even hanging just outside the locker room while the Sooners celebrated the win.
Another rumor ran rampant late Friday night that perhaps Merv Johnson was retiring from director of football operations, and that Wright would slide there, creating a spot for Mike Stoops on the defensive staff.
“I have not heard that. I’m sure if he is then Merv wants to. I’m all for whatever is the best for him,” Bob Stoops said. “We all love him in our building. I have not heard that, but it could be something he and Joe (Castiglione) have talked about, but not shared it with. Figured I had enough to think about right now.”
As for Wright getting the Gatorade bath?
“(They did it) because they couldn’t catch me,” Stoops said. “They tried a couple times and just got the back of my pants on the second one. Bobby Jack is not quite as fleet afoot as he was now that he’s older.”
Still, Stoops didn’t rule out the possibility his brother could return to Norman.
“In the right circumstances,” he said. “You never know, but he has a lot of good opportunities. There’s still a lot of uncertainty with jobs out there. There’s a bunch of them still waiting to be filled or solidified.”
Stoops still wouldn’t confirm specifically who won’t be with the team in the spring, though wide receivers Justin McCay, Sheldon McClain, defensive tackles Torrea Peterson, James Aladenoye and Eric Humphrey and safety James Haynes weren’t with the team in Arizona.
Stoops said the rest of the so-called “2 percent” still with the team had improved their attitudes in Phoenix.
Wideout Jaz Reynolds could return to the team before spring ball, Stoops said, despite the kidney injury that had him in the hospital for a week.
Stoops said the Sooners still would like to add a junior-college running back before next season.
Stoops admitted that he’s concerned West Virginia might not be able to join the Big 12 before next season. He also said it’s been a challenge completing the non-conference schedule because nobody wants to go play the Sooners in Norman.