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He Did It Because He Had To

As many of you probably know, the probable starting quarterback and the projected starting right guard for the Oklahoma Sooners were dismissed from the team for accepting wages in excess of what he provided in terms of work at Big Red Sports/Imports.

Based upon an investigation initiated by the University of Oklahoma and facts uncovered by the University, Head Coach Bob Stoops today announced that he has permanently dismissed two members of the Sooner football team.

The investigation by OU revealed that two football players received extra compensation above that to which they were entitled related to their employment at a private business. This is a direct violation of NCAA rules. The two accepted payment over an extended period of time in excess of time actually worked.

OU is taking the initiative by declaring them ineligible for the entire current season and by permanently dismissing the two from the team. They will not be allowed to return to the OU team at any time in the future.

This decision leaves the QB situation at OU muddled, big time. While Bomar led the Sooners to 6 wins in their last 7 games in 2005, his back-ups are imperfect subsitutes at best.

My hunch is that Bob Stoops will move Thompson back to quarterback. Given his experience under center in the program, Stoops almost has to. I remember former OU quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Chuck Long raving about Thompson's makeup a few years back and, quite frankly, I think Thompson could be more helpful under center than being just another good receiver. His career passing numbers aren't great (42-of-73 for 428 yards with four TDs and three INTs), but he has to be considered an option because this officially qualifies as a catastrophic situation in Norman.

Joey Halzle, the JC transfer who was listed at No. 2 on the depth chart, was dreadful in OU's spring game, going 8-for-21 with three picks. He also has no experience in the Big 12. But Halzle won't give up the position easily. Keep in mind this was the guy who had the Oaks Christian QB job when prodigy Jimmy Clausen was a freshman there. At the end of his prep career, Halzle had to share a bit of the spotlight.

His team last season, Golden West CC, was terrible, going 1-9. I chatted with a former NFL quarterback who has seen a lot of Halzle in JC ball. He thinks Halzle moves pretty well and has a good arm but needs to make decisions a lot quicker. Then again, the guy didn't have much to work with -- and that won't be the case at OU.

Another possibility is freshman Sam Bradford, a newcomer to big-time college football.

Even though Halzle has more to work with at OU, than he did in JUCO he's going to be facing Big 12-level competition. He's going to need to make quick decisions if he doesn't want to visit the turf too often. But coach Stoops didn't act so quickly, harshly, and decisively because it was the "right thing to do." He did it because he had to.

OU athletics is already in hot water with the NCAA. Earlier this year, the university dodged receiving the dreaded "lack of institutional control" tag in the handling of former basketball coach Kelvin Sampson's basketball program, even though that was the recommendation.

The university was able to avoid a severe "lack of institutional control" finding that could have resulted in a ban from postseason play. NCAA enforcement staff had recommended such a finding but the infractions committee instead found Oklahoma guilty of a lesser "failure in monitoring" finding.

The Committee on Infractions strayed from the enforcement staff's recommendation, saying "though seriously flawed, a system for monitoring the phone calls did exist."

Now comes the Bomar/Quinn fiasco. No doubt the previous escape was influenced by OU's self-imposed penalties on its basketball program. With this fiasco coming on top of the Sampson fiasco, it's quite possible OU might not escape the lack of control tag when the NCAA finishes with its certain investigation.