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August 13, 2004

Merv Johnson answers your questions

SoonerScoop.com senior writer Kurt Smith caught up with Sooner director of football operations Merv Johnson for his weekly question and answer session with Sooner fans from all over the nation. Johnson talks this week about the potential NCAA recruiting changes, the Sooners' vertical and whether or not the No. 2 quarterback will play more this year.

Question: Coach Johnson, having been a fan a great many years, I love the program and I am wondering about two things. Hopefully you can provide some insight into both.

1.) Why bother to recruit a top level player, if he cannot qualify for school and we lose him for two years?

2.) Can the coaching staff provide enough incentive and reps to keep all of the talented QB's happy? Don't want Rhett Bomar going away to play baseball

Thank you for your time,
Michael Cope
Littleton Co. (originally from Henryetta, Okla.)


Answer: 1.) Usually when a prospect signs, he has already qualified or is very close to qualifying, but in the ensuing semester or tests (SAT or ACT) he falls short. We don't normally sign prospects that we don't believe have a great chance to secure his grades and/or test scores.

2.) It is a situation I'm glad I don't have to orchestrate. It's a good "problem" to have, but it is one in which a lot of careful thought and communication has to take place. I feel the coaches are addressing it in a very positive manner.

Q: Coach, of the new changes the NCAA is considering in regard to recruiting do any of them seem just plain boneheaded? Any that you feel are a step in the right direction? Finally, anything you think that will help the college game in this area?

Thank you,
J. N. Lynn
Wichita, Kan.


A: I don't believe the rules that were put into place last week will do anything but help recruiting. Schools now have to divulge their rules and procedures and then will be punished if they fail to follow their own guidelines.

Q: Thank you for your time Merv - this is much appreciated. 2003 was the first year where we saw the vertical (down-field) passing game really come alive. Last year was also the first year that Kevin Sumlin was a part of the offensive staff. Coincidence or not? Not to take anything away from Jason White's talent or Chuck Long's game plan, but the same thing happened at A&M when Sumlin took over the offensive reigns briefly two years ago. In your opinion, has Kevin Sumlin contributed to OU's down-field game plan? Also, has he found a suitable niche in OU's staff in regards to coaching/recruiting?

Matthew Young
Cheyenne, Wyoming


A: Before last season, I think that in the coaches' minds there was a need to stretch the secondary, and I'm sure that Kevin had some productive insight into that thinking.

Q: Given that Jason doesn't need super stats to pull himself into the Heisman race, and he was pretty beaten up by the end of the season last year (which ended up costing us), do you think we'll see the No. 2 quarterback in the games a little sooner this year?

Steve Busby
Norman


A: Yes, I do. Both reserve quarterbacks had a promising spring and showed that they are ready to step up and produce. That was not the case a year ago with our quarterback depth.

Q: Merv, how talented do you thing this team is compared to last year? In my opinion, we should be better even though we lose three All-Americans in Tommie Harris, Teddy Lehman, and Derrick Strait on defense. Thanks.

Brandon Adkins
Norman


A: Those three players will surely be missed, but you have to consider that 16 or 17 returning starters should be more improved and able to pick up the slack.

Q: How long do you see Bob Stoops staying, and who do you think will be the next coordinator to get a head-coaching job?

Benny Leonard
Checotah, Okla.


A: My guess is that Coach Stoops will stay for a long time. He'll never have more logically attractive opportunities than those he's already turned down. We have four co-coordinators who are top-flight. Any of those four could be the next ones to go.

Other fall camp stories
Kevin Sumlin Q&A: Dennison makes move
Storylines start to surface after day four
Pressure is on Pendleton, Coleman
Sooner's odd couple coming together


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