Hard times fall on Oklahoma

Thursday, October 19th 2006, 1:06 pm
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ With all that's gone wrong for Oklahoma this season, there can't be much Bob Stoops isn't prepared to handle.

The Sooners coach has already kicked his starting quarterback off the team, watched a certain victory get snatched away by a dubious officials' call and lost Heisman hopeful Adrian Peterson to an injury.

To top it off, the Sooners' top defensive player, linebacker Rufus Alexander, was arrested for an altercation near campus about 12 hours after the game in which Peterson was hurt. Alexander says he was trying to break up a fight.

What else could possibly happen to the snake-bit Sooners?

``You know what might surprise me ... ,'' Stoops said before thinking better of it. ``Nah, I'm not going to go there.''

It might be best not to jinx himself.

The craziness started before fall camp opened for a team that was being touted as a national title contender.

A day before the Sooners were set to start practice, Stoops dismissed quarterback Rhett Bomar and offensive lineman J.D. Quinn for taking extra pay from a Norman car dealership where they worked. The situation also bought the university an NCAA investigation.

After Bomar was booted, the team rallied behind Paul Thompson, the quarterback turned receiver turned back to quarterback.

No. 20 Oklahoma started 2-0, and could have moved into the top 10 with a win on the road at Oregon. The Sooners seemed headed in that direction with a six-point lead in the final minutes and only an onside kick to recover to secure a victory.

But the onside kick instead gave Oregon possession. Replays showed the ball was touched by an Oregon player before it went the required 10 yards, though the replay official failed to overturn the call on the field.

Oregon went on to win 34-33 and the Pac-10 apologized to Oklahoma (4-2) for the officials shoddy work.

The most unfortunate turn in the Sooners' saga came last week against Iowa State. Peterson broke his collarbone at the end of a brilliant fourth-quarter touchdown run and will miss the rest of the regular season.

``You have to sit back and laugh, honestly, because we do face a lot of things,'' safety Darien Williams said. ``I look at it like this: You never know what goes on in other ballclubs. You never know what they're going through.

``This is a part of football. This is the cards we're dealt. Let's play them, let's roll with it and make the best of it. I think that's the attitude all across the field, all across the locker room.''

This latest adversity could be the greatest of all.

Peterson, the 2004 Heisman runner-up, was the centerpiece of Oklahoma's offense and the second-leading rusher in the country.

``To me, that's just part of the game. I don't look at that like I got a bad break,'' Stoops said. ``I feel bad for Adrian. As far as for the football team, we've got to adapt and move on, which everybody has to do when they have those situations.''

Oklahoma certainly is not alone in the injury department, even among ranked teams. Louisville lost a pair of Heisman Trophy contenders in the first three games when tailback Michael Bush and quarterback Brian Brohm went down, and Georgia had to go without injured quarterback Joe Tereshinski for two weeks.

``I'm sure this is not the only school that has had problems,'' Thompson said. ``There's controversy and things happening around the country. You don't want to be a part of it, but sometimes you are.''

Despite it all, the Sooners insist there will be no lowering of expectations in Peterson's absence, with their sights set on a 10-2 finish and a Bowl Championship Series bid.

``For some of us, it's easier to move on because we know what we're trying to get to. We know what we want,'' cornerback Lendy Holmes said. ``We always have to stay positive. It's on us to show what we can do.''

Stoops isn't whining about being deal a bad hand this season.

Since he arrived in Norman in 1999, he's won a national title, played for two others and had quarterback Jason White overcome two knee surgeries to win the Heisman Trophy.

``I've been here for a long time and we've had a lot of awfully good things happen too,'' he said. ``Sometimes everything doesn't go your way. That's the way it goes. You fight through it ... you play the cards you've got, and we're going to keep playing ours.''