Sittler: Former Sooners hit jackpot by staying in school
BY DAVE SITTLER World Sports Columnist
Thursday, August 05, 2010
8/05/10 at 11:05 AM
Go to Dave Sittler's BlogOriginal Print Headline: Ex-OU standouts see payoff in staying
IT'S TIME to ask a couple of $135.35 million questions. That multimillion dollar total is the combined guaranteed money Oklahoma's four 2010 first-round draft choices will make even if they never play a single down in the NFL.
It could climb to a whopping $219.92 million if quarterback Sam Bradford, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, offensive tackle Trent Williams and tight end Jermaine Gresham earn every penny of contracts they signed the past week.
The quiz questions are these:
1. Has CBS commentator Gary Danielson found time yet to apologize to Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops?
2. Will those four Sooners millionaires become philanthropists in the mode of Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh?
The CliffsNotes guesses are "no" on the first one, while OU officials undoubtedly are praying it's "yes" on the other.
First, Danielson, who opines nationally on all that is college football, particularly the Southeastern Conference.
Danielson was one of Stoops' most-vocal critics after Bradford injured his shoulder in the 2009 season opener. The 2008 Heisman Trophy winner hadn't even made it to the locker room before Danielson started firing shots at Stoops for not convincing Bradford to turn pro after his redshirt sophomore season.
"I really wish Bob Stoops would have said to Sam Bradford, "I'm sorry, I can't let you play for my team this year. I can't risk $70 million knowing that some guard will turn a linebacker loose and blow (out) your arm and knee,' " Danielson said in a teleconference a few days after OU's 14-13 loss to BYU. "I thought Sam should have been in the NFL."
Appearing on the Dan Patrick Show, Danielson's rant also suggested Stoops had developed a trend in his 11 seasons at OU to convince players to stay in college even if they were ready for the NFL.
"I think (Stoops) needs to look past that sometimes and say, I can't live with myself if you got your right shoulder or your left knee killed (at OU)," Danielson said. "I think at some point he should say, listen, I just don't feel right about this. Are you sure? Are you sure?"
Informed of Danielson's comments last September, Stoops returned fire: "That is ridiculous and it is insulting and it's foolish to say that."
Trust me, although it's nearly a year later, Stoops has not forgotten Danielson used his access to national media outlets to imply the OU coach had been selfish in not persuading Bradford to leave early.
"What's Gary Danielson got to say now?" Stoops asked on July 30, shortly after the St. Louis Rams signed Bradford to the richest guaranteed contract in NFL history.
Danielson was a little low in charging Stoops had cost Bradford $70 million. The No. 1 overall pick, Bradford signed a six-year deal worth $78 million, with $50 million guaranteed.
If Danielson had done his homework, he would have discovered Stoops didn't stand in the way of several Sooners who have left early for the NFL when he knew they weren't ready.
His approach has been consistent: gather all the facts and projects from NFL experts and then explain what it all means to his players. Some, like Jammal Brown, listen. Some, like Jimmy Wilkerson, Malcolm Kelly, Reggie Smith and Dominique Franks, do not.
Because the newly minted millionaire foursome trusted themselves and their coach, it's believed they helped OU set an NFL record with their combined contracts.
Actually, Danielson should also apologize to Bradford. The former Purdue and NFL quarterback took a shot at the former Sooner when he said last season that not one Big 12 quarterback was as good as the SEC's top-three ranked quarterbacks.
"The Big 12 gets a lot of notoriety for their quarterbacks because of their stats," said Danielson, who then showed his SEC bias when he added, "I am going to make a prediction that the three quarterbacks in the SEC — Tim Tebow, Jevan Snead and (Ryan) Mallett — will be drafted higher than any three quarterbacks now playing in any other conference.
"Snead may go No. 1 in the draft this year if the team drafting needs a quarterback. He will be the first quarterback taken, and Tebow will go in the first round."
Oops. St. Louis needed a quarterback and used its No. 1 pick on Bradford. Snead, the Ole Miss junior, went undrafted.
Denver saved Danielson's prognostication reputation from going completely in the toilet when the Broncos used the No. 25 overall pick to select Tebow. NFL experts continue to debate if Denver blew it by taking the former Florida All-American and 2007 Heisman winner that high.
Mallett, who opted to stay at Arkansas for his junior season, could also help Danielson's battered image. While there are some questions about a lingering foot injury, Mallet is projected on many early NFL draft boards as the top pick in the 2011 draft.
The thing that really sticks in Stoops' craw is that critics like Danielson don't ever mention Bradford, McCoy, Williams and Gresham used the extra year at OU to come within only a few hours of obtaining their degrees.
As for the second question, Suh put pressure on all his fellow first-rounders when he donated $2.6 million to Nebraska, with $2 million going to the athletic department and $600,000 to the College of Engineering to endow a scholarship.
Shortly after Suh signed a $68 million deal ($40 million guaranteed) Tuesday with Detroit, Nebraska officials announced his money is already being spent.
By the end of August, 160 football players' lockers will feature a built-in Apple iPad touchscreen computer. With Suh's generosity, Nebraska has also purchased a 14½-foot by 9-foot polar tank for conditioning purposes.
Will the former Sooners also spread the wealth? No matter how much they give, it'll be worth more than what Danielson was spreading last season.