Bob Stoops Addresses The HBO Real Sports Report

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If you weren’t one of those who watched Tuesday night’s HBO Real Sports report “investigation” into the deficiencies associated with student-athletes and academics, I’d suggest your time was much better served in not having done so than those of us who did watch. As expected, the footage of Oklahoma’s campus scattered throughout the preview clip released last week was simply a ploy to hype a report that featured very little new information. And while it did include the University of Oklahoma, specifically a former player in Eric Mensik and a current professor in Dr. Gerald Gurney, OU’s involvement — at least with respect to what made it to air — was minimal at best.

However, that has not prevented just about everyone from having an opinion on the subject. As you might expect, some are much more rational and intelligent than others. Although somewhat brief, I though Allen Kenney of Blatant Homerism offered a very sound take on things (as he typically does, in my opinion). I also found this Q&A the Tulsa World’s Guerin Emig did with Gabe Ikard to be an incredibly good read. And I thought Bob Stoops did an excellent job of addressing the report both after Tuesday’s practice and Wednesday morning during an interview with the Sports Animal.

Among the variety of things he had to say on the subject (which I’ll get to in a second), he made what I thought was a simply, yet incredibly important point.

You get out of college what you want to. That’s not only football or athletes, it’s any student – you get out of it what you want to.

Like I said, pretty simply yet it rings so true. Stoops then went on to say:

We get young guys from a lot of different backgrounds, a lot of them tough backgrounds, disadvantaged backgrounds, some of them great backgrounds, but when you meld them all together on a team and they have to learn to respect everybody and learn ‘Hey, I’m not on the streets on Detroit; this is a college campus and how we operate,’ then all of a sudden they may get it. 99% of the guys get it and have an amazing experience. They realize the different cultures and different teammates and different people they are with in the dorm. They grow from it. It’s a great experience going to college. The ones that take advantage of it have a great, great experience.

We implemented a class policy in 2003 or 2004 where if you miss over three classes in a period of time, you’re suspended from the game. You guys know that we’ve had guys suspended for missing class. So in the end, Eric said that in that piece but they didn’t show that, about how stringent we are in our program about going to class and your academic appointments. And if you miss a certain number of them, you’re suspended from practice and you’re suspended from games. But of course, that wouldn’t have gone along with the story they were trying to play.

Before the interview shifted back to the football field (they didn’t cover much, but you can listen at the link I provided above), Stoops also made a point to address the NCAA’s APR rule which many believe has been inherently flawed from its outset:

One other thing… The APR rules, the academic progress rules and those kinds of things, they inhibit a guy sometimes from taking a chance on a tougher major or tougher classes because then if he fails, he is taken off the field, maybe kicked out of school, may get his scholarship.

Therefore, if you’re struggling or if you’re not mentally capable of taking a certain course, it kind of intimidates you from taking it for fear that you may become ineligible or losing a scholarship. They force that part of it – it’s a little bit of a catch-22, they force a guy to take a different major because of the fear of failure.

And just because you major is a certain field doesn’t mean you are going to stay in that field as a professional.

Maybe the announcement on Tuesday from the university, preceding the HBO report, regarding a trio of Oklahoma student-athletes — two of whom were football players — being awarded postgraduate grants to continue pursuing their education was a well-timed coincidence. I seriously doubt it, but I suppose anything is possible. However, my point in even bringing it up is HBO could have just as easily spoken with someone like Gabe Ikard or Trey Millard, or even Kendal Thompson who graduated in three years. The reason they weren’t, I presume, is because their story did not fit the narrative HBO was trying to push.

Is this current system perfect? Absolutely not, far from it. I suspect anyone with a brain would be willing to admit that. But it’s also not nearly as black-and-white as the HBO report would seem to suggest. It’s not just two extremes where you have a group of college student-athletes reading at a fourth grade level, while you have another group putting up a 4.0 GPA.

There are any number of factors to take into consideration. How responsible are the high schools? What about the advantages (tutors, note-takers, etc.) provided to student-athletes that are not provided to a typical student? How responsible can you hold someone for a learning disability? At I’m sure that is just barely scratching the surface. So, like I said, a lot of gray area in there.

Is it easy, given the considerable demands on their time, for a student-athlete to select a challenging degree program and maintain the necessary grades to both stay qualified and graduate? No, it will very likely be difficult. Just as it is difficult for any number of ‘normal’ college students, who don’t play a sport, to do the exact same.

As Stoops said, “you get out of it what you want to.” There are countless examples of student-athletes, both on the OU campus and across the country, who counter what was presented in the HBO report.

So while it may not be easy, as the saying goes, few things in life worth having rarely are.

  • hOUligan

    With anything, your very life, you get out of it what you put into it. Great insight on that and the APR by Coach Stoops. And, of course, leaving out the positive comments about the expectations of the OU program made by Mensik as it didn’t fit the narrative. Too bad he or another coach wasn’t allowed to make some counter-point comments. But, again, negative sells more than positive press in our society, unfortunately.

    • SoonerGoneEast

      RS always posts clips on youtube that didn’t make the final cut on the show. Not surprisingly, Mensik’s comments didn’t show up there either.

  • Sooner Ray

    HBO and MTV are where I tune in for all relevant and accurate information now days. 🙂

    • Jordan Esco

      makes sense

    • JJ

      That’s the Ray I know 🙂

  • John

    I’d like to curse here in reference to HBO and journalism in general but I’ll withhold any deragoratory comments and simply say that in Stoops I trust. As a man and a coach.

  • EasTex

    Since I am on a current 20 year boycott of HBO I missed out on their little shockumentary. One thing I have learned, though, is that Brains Gumbo is actually still employed. Gumbo and HBO, a match made in a hog wallow.
    Ol’Gumbo should have interviewed Hitler.

    • Eric Hoffpauir

      Well, you’re missing out on some of the greatest TV shows ever produced. But probably not missing much in the world of sports, including this latest episode.

      • EasTex

        Perhaps, but I have been denying them my viewership and dollars for quite a long time.

        • Eric Hoffpauir

          I’ve never subscribed to HBO. I do watch their shows (Deadwood, Sopranos, Wire, Game of Thrones, Curb Your Enthusiasm, etc.) on DVD however, and I’m glad that they continue to make them. Great, great stuff.

          • EasTex

            Watched an episode of Sopranos years ago when I got HBO free for a month. I emphasize one episode and it compelled me to dry fire my 1911A1 at the characters. Can’t stand slimy thugs. As for the GofT, I have no interest in a story written by a sexual deviant. Watched some Deadwood, but the gratuitous use of vulgar language was off putting.

            There is so much good stuff available with out that channel I don’t think I’m missing out. The one really good thing they did was Band of Brothers which I have seen(many times) without having to subscribe to their service.

    • SoonerPhins

      Saban was as pissed after the PI call as Bruno Ganz (Adolf actor) is of all these parody lol

      • EasTex

        Saban was acting just like Ganz. That call couldn’t be disputed, he was putting on a show for his players that he was fighting to the end so they would.

    • paganpink


    • pitbull17

      I can’t believe I missed this yesterday! Bravo for the find EasTex

      • EasTex

        Welcome, old bud.

        • pitbull17

          Oh I’ve been here a while buddy, just had a really tough winter in my neck of the woods and work hasn’t allowed me to comment nearly as much lately.

          • EasTex

            Saw you posting before I decided to give in and sign up with Disqus.
            You probably made some money with this terrible winter, it cost me thousands.

  • Andrew

    I didn’t know HBO was still a channel……I wonder how HBO can defend against all of the student athletes that did go to school, play a sport, and earn degree ( I earned a Math degree with a 3.0 GPA). What a slap in the footballs.

    • DrZemus

      I didn’t realize Real Sports was still around before this. Ratings = $$

    • Sooner Ray

      They are not interested in success, only failure. Trash earns views which earns money. They had no interest in the number of academic All-Americans OU has produced over the years, also not interested in any meaningful debate on the subject. One sided, edited, and slanted is all they care about.

  • Shifty

    I like what Bob said “you get out of life what you put in” or something similar to true

  • JJsooner1

    So I guess people really pay for that channel. So what’s the going price for premium BS these days?

    Loved the Tulsa World article…..fair and balanced journalism. Coach Stoops acting with more class than Gumbo has ever even heard of.

    HBO = Epic fail. Imho.

  • godman

    Ever since I personally was the subject (victim) of a news “story”, I question the integrity of any news I hear. I discovered that they do not report in total objectivity and absolute integrity in terms of getting and portraying the whole story. Instead, what was produced was only a snip it of truth which was grossly exaggerated and distorted in order to PRODUCE or manufacture a so called story. When I called the news station in an effort to correct them and set things straight, again they looked for anything they could take “out of context” to use as a follow up piece in their so called investigative reporting. In short, 10% of the story was correct and taken so far out of context it barely had any resemblance to truth what so ever. This, by the way was one of the local TV channel news broadcasts. Once you see the truth in the light, darkness loses it’s affect!

  • pitbull17

    Somebody fill me in on WTF is going on? I’ve been sick as a dog the last few days and haven’t left the safety of my bed.

    • Sooner Ray

      It’s nothing to get upset about pit. Basically, HBO isn’t doing so well and their flunky “journalists” needed a story to drum up viewership so they took a crooked angle on an NCAA rule and exploited it into something that made no sense and will not have any effect on anyone. Even Mensik called Stoops to complain about the edited clips they aired of him, so far out of context it was no longer relevant. I haven’t paid for HBO in 10 to 15 yrs and have no plans to do so in the future. They should have stuck to just showing the same movies over and over again.

      • pitbull17

        Thanks for the info Ray.

  • Cory Reedy

    ZzzZZzzZZzzz…somebody wake me in August.

    • Jordan Esco

      Trust me, I share your feelings on the subject. But SO many people were talking about it I just felt compelled to at least address it. Even if it was simply to dismiss it.

      • Cory Reedy

        I understand Jordan. That wasn’t a shot at you….just the fact that all of the off-season garbage really makes me want to vomit. : )

        • Jordan Esco

          Oh, no worries. Didn’t take it as a shot at me at all. Was just trying to clarify as I VERY much shared your feelings on the subject.

          All good, brotha 🙂

  • SoonerGoneEast

    The agenda driven slant in that episode is exactly what I would expect from Real Sports. I’ve made no secret of my disdain for the media in the past, but that hack, Goldberg, really takes the cake. It’s amazing he has the gall to patch together this disingenuous tapestry of bullshit given the bank he’s made for decades writing books and “storytelling” about half-truths, media bias, and misleading journalism. We’re supposed to somehow ignore his body of work and believe he’s above the fray just because he advocates against this nonsense. He is either completely incapable of journalistic integrity or he traded it in twenty years ago for a paycheck. FWIW, he and Gumbel are both as FOS as a Christmas Turkey.

    • SoonerGoneEast

      BTW, nice work putting that hatchet job in perspective, Jordan. I seldom have time to comment since the move from CCM, but still enjoy your work.

      • Jordan Esco

        Thank you, sir.

      • pitbull17

        Well you need to make time buddy, we miss your witty banter.

        • Jordan Esco

          +1, SGE

    • Sooner Ray

      Just find more time to comment, just sayin. 🙂

  • Connor Bowles

    It’s not just HBO. Filmmakers who create documentaries have an agenda and take the pieces of information which support it. Sucks they decided to pick us to screw though. They should’ve picked OSU and interviewed Dexter Manley lol

  • soonermusic

    Really good job of putting this in perspective, Jordan. And the referenced articles and comments were excellent, in particular Kenney and the Ikard interview. The video of about 4 minutes of Stoops’ comments was good as well. Thanks.

    • Jordan Esco

      Always happy to help