Travis Lewis opens up to media
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Thursday, December 29, 2011
12/29/11 at 4:37 AM
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PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. - Travis Lewis ended his media boycott with a bang Wednesday. When reporters he hadn't spoken to in two months approached him at Insight Bowl media day, Lewis smiled and bellowed: "How y'all doin! Long time no see, guys!"
He then proceeded to answer 45 minutes of questions, including the most obvious: What prompted your vow of silence in the first place?
"After our first loss against Texas Tech (Oct. 22), it struck me, 'Hey, let's just go to business. Quit the talking, quit all the tweets and everything. Just go out there and play,' " Lewis explained. "That's the mindset I took into the rest of the season. ... Maybe if I just quit the talking, my team would focus on playing and start winning ball games."
That only worked to a degree. The Sooners lost twice more after their defensive captain zipped up.
The more frustrating the season became, the more people wondered why Lewis wasn't taking more ownership, publicly, in the downturn. It created a backlash. Did he notice that?
"I just don't really care. I don't listen to it," Lewis said. "Some people write some things, but they don't know what they're talking about. They only see things from the outside. I see what's going on inside the locker room and at our practices, around the program. If anybody has a view of what's really going on, it would be me.
"Fortunately, I have a great coach (Brent Venables) and that's how he sees things. He's so single-minded in everything, and it carries over to us. He doesn't believe in reading newspapers or watching TV or listening to what other people say. He's the same guy all the time, and it kind of rolls over to the linebackers. ... It's keeping yourself in a bubble and staying on one level the whole time."
Some athletes stop talking after they feel they have been misrepresented or misunderstood by outsiders. Was that the case with Lewis?
"There were some things," he said, "but that wasn't until after I stopped doing (interviews) for a while. That was during the process. I had decided before that, 'Hey, I need to just shut my mouth and start playing.' "
Lewis' mouth was wide open Wednesday, like it was the first 3 1/2 years of his career.
He addressed the rash of transfers since the end of OU's season, saying: "I think Coach (Bob) Stoops decided to put his foot down. The guys that weren't contributing, guys that were going by the wayside and trying to get a free ride are no longer here. ...
"If you're going to be at Oklahoma, you need to win, you need to contribute, you need to do all the little things to make this team succeed. The players that weren't doing that, he said, 'OK, it was nice of you being here, I appreciate you, but go do your thing.' "
Lewis pronounced himself the healthiest he's been all season, to the point he won't be wearing the makeshift cast around his broken toe Friday night. He addressed the value of beating Iowa - what a nice send-off it would be for OU's seniors.
He revisited the decision to return for his senior season, saying he does not regret it.
"The last few weeks have been the hardest. The Oklahoma State game, that's the first time I've been really blown out like that," Lewis said. "But I've had fun. It's been a fun ride. We've competed this year. We have a chance to win 10 games."
Original Print Headline: Lewis opens up to reporters
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OU's Travis Lewis, Tom Wort and Ben Habern joke with each other during Insight Bowl media day Wednesday. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World