Big 12 coaches praise Simmons, also realize bottom line is winning

Monday, November 6th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

AP Sports Writer

DALLAS (AP) -- His fellow Big 12 coaches are unanimous in their feelings for Oklahoma State's Bob Simmons.

Terms such as "wonderful person," "fine coach" and "friend" were frequently used Monday by league coaches asked about Simmons, who resigned under pressure later in the day.

"I think an awful lot of Bob, first as a coach, the way I know him the most, and being around him as a person and the way he conducts himself," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said during the weekly Big 12 coaches' teleconference.

"He is a wonderful person," said Kansas State's Bill Snyder.

"He is a very, very fine football coach and has done an awful lot for this conference."

In the end, however, none of that mattered. Simmons didn't win enough.

Simmons' resignation is effective at the end of this season, after a game against the No. 1 Sooners on Nov. 25. The Cowboys (2-6, 0-5 Big 12) have lost six straight games and are assured the fifth losing record in six seasons under Simmons, who is 29-36 as a head coach.

While taking part in his scheduled 10-minute segment during the teleconference Monday, Simmons refused to directly discuss his situation as OSU coach.

"This has been a young squad. It's been a tough year, but our kids have really made improvement," Simmons said. "Our numbers are up in terms of retention. We've been able to, I think, compete but we're going through a transition.

Some Big 12 coaches did more than praise Simmons. They said his forced resignation provided a stark reminder of the reality of college football.

"We no longer value substance. We don't value what sports is about. We value the entertainment value, that's it and that's a sad thing to say," said Colorado's Gary Barnett.

"If I were to pick someone for my son to be coached by, it would be Bob Simmons. I knew he would get a total education and would have all of the right things I would want him exposed to. It wouldn't be a shallow program. It would be one with substance."

Larry Smith, the seventh-year coach at Missouri, may soon face the same predicament as Simmons. After three losing seasons to start his tenure with the Tigers, they went to consecutive bowl games. But they are 2-7 this season and assured their second straight losing season.

"In the old days, you run a good, clean program, players go to school and have a good graduation rate. You work hard and stay with it. You had good years and bad years, and people tolerated it,"

Smith said.

"It's not what type of program it seems you have anymore. It's based on one thing -- win, nothing else."

Oklahoma State's latest loss was 21-16 Saturday to No. 23 Texas A&M. The Cowboys had an apparent game-winning touchdown in the final minute when Aso Pogi hit tight end Marcellus Rivers in the end zone on fourth-and-10 from the 15. But officials ruled that Rivers came down out of bounds.

Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum spoke to Simmons both before and after the game.

"He knew he was under some pressure there. He obviously knew what his situation was, but I don't know how much he knew," Slocum said, sharing some of their conversation. "I told him I appreciated his friendship. He's a good man."

Slocum also said there was no reason to believe that Saturday's outcome really had any bearing on Simmons' announcement Monday.

"I don't think that whatever problems or feelings there happened in one game," Slocum said. "Our game was one in the process. But I doubt if it had anything to do in the process. They played well in our game."

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "I think I'd take Josh Heupel, until Oklahoma gets beat," Kansas coach Terry Allen said when asked who he'd give the Heisman Trophy to.

EXTRA POINTS: After losing two of its last three games, Kansas State rebounded with a 56-10 victory over Iowa State. "Get the ship righted and back on track. I would like to think that we made a big step in that direction." The Wildcats better hope so. They host No. 4 Nebraska in a game that likely will determine the North Division champion. ... While a turnaround for Kansas State, last week's game seemed more like a hangover for Iowa State, a week after the Cyclones clinched their first winning season since 1989 and became eligible for their first bowl since 1979. "These kids have never experienced success, or a winning season. I sure worried all along that could happen. But I don't want to take away from Kansas State. They completely took us out of the game early. It was a mismatch." Iowa State plays at Colorado Saturday in a battle for third place in the North.