After missing weeks with a concussion, Charles Walker decided to leave the Sooners and start preparing for the NFL draft, in which he’s projected to go high. Finally Bob Stoops can stop saying “I’m not a doctor” when asked about him.
Bob’s brother Mike offered his own take on the departure when asked during Tuesday’s defensive media availability. Always the candid coach on staff, Mike didn’t hold back.
Mike Stoops: "Quitting on your teammates is hard to take." - on Charles Walker no longer playing for #Sooners— Bob Przybylo (@BPrzybylo) November 16, 2016
Mike continued, “That’s everything we stand for — our commitment to one another and, for whatever reason, that wasn’t there for him. He thought this was a better avenue so you would have to ask him.”
Somehow when I saw that quote, this is the first thing I thought of:
Texas A&M is losing football recruits, thanks to an apparent sub-tweet by wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead https://t.co/gEiGY2X9Su— Newsweek (@Newsweek) May 6, 2016
Remember that? This spring, Aaron Moorehead went off on Tate Martell for decommitting, and two other guys immediately decommitted.
Now, obviously there’s a big difference between sub-tweeting about a decommit and speaking frankly about a particular guy in a press conference. At least Mike had the guts to make his criticisms verbally and specifically.
But either way, I still think it’s a bad look for the defensive coordinator and the OU program. First of all, Mike Stoops is hardly in a position to be slinging barbs at his players this year. Any frustration with their play should be answered with a healthy dose of self-awareness—has Mike really done everything in his power to put them in position to succeed? From recruiting to coaching to game-planning, Stoops bears plenty of blame for the D’s down season. It’s not as though Walker’s absence is the difference.
Second, the Sooners are in the middle of tight recruiting battles for several players, and quotes like this never play well with recruits. The Sooners could lock down a top-5 recruiting class this year, but they’re also a decommit or two away from slipping down the rankings. OU’s done a great job of keeping its class and regaining momentum after early-season struggles, but opponents love it when OU’s coaches do the heavy lifting for them. This quote will be an easy one to use against the Sooners.
Finally, it’s hard to view Walker’s decision as anything but pragmatic, and probably correct. If the projections are to be believed, then he’s mere months away from a big payday. He just watched several teammates end their careers because of recurring concussion issues. He might even be getting pressure from his family:
There’s been speculation for awhile that Walker was healthy enough to play and simply choosing not to, speculation that Bob Stoops wouldn’t dismiss on Tuesday.
Bob Stoops did clarify tonight Charles Walker had been cleared medically to play. I asked how long he had been cleared. Stoops would not say— Carey Murdock (@CareyWWLS) November 17, 2016
It all points to a picture of a guy who was frightened by his body’s limitations and just decided that he wasn’t going to risk millions to help this team win a Big 12 title. It’s not pretty, it’s not gutsy, and it’s going to raise eyebrows among NFL scouts. But it may prove to be the best decision for Walker.
Look, I absolutely get where Mike is coming from. He has been rolling out a defense each week that feels like it’s held together with duct tape and hot glue. Neither his starters nor his backups have played very well even when healthy. Most of Sooner Nation is calling for his job. I get it, Mike. You were counting on getting Walker back at some point.
But the press is not the place to air those grievances. Bob always takes the high road, rarely criticizing a player by name. Maybe Mike should learn to do the same.