OU-Mizzou Battle for Big 12 Crown

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
NOVEMBER 30, 2007

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- When Jon Cooper made the move from high school to college, he decided to wear the same No. 50 jersey his father wore. He didn't choose the same school.

Cooper's dad, Tom, was a defensive lineman for Missouri from 1972-75 but will find his alma mater playing the biggest game in school history Saturday against his son's Oklahoma team.

"Definitely he's not cheering for them this week," said Jon Cooper, a starting center for the Sooners. "We talk about how we'll have battles and when I'm done, he'll go back to black and gold, but right now he's pulling for us all the way."

The younger Cooper took a couple of unofficial visits to Missouri, but felt more comfortable at Oklahoma and decided to go to school in Norman instead. He said his father was never determined to encourage him to play for the Tigers.

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"We kind of talked about it and when we were talking about it, he would give the pros and cons of every school, including Missouri," Jon Cooper said. "He didn't try push it one bit over other schools. He probably pushed other schools more than he did Missouri."

Entering this week's game against the No. 9 Sooners, the Tigers find themselves ranked No. 1 for the first time since 1960 -- even before Cooper's father attended the school.

"It's been a while, so it doesn't really mean that much. He doesn't make a big deal out of it and neither do I," Cooper said.

So far, at least, there hasn't been any trash talk between father and son about who's going to win the championship game.

"Maybe after the game he will," Cooper said. "We might give each other a little bit of grief. Nothing yet."

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Sooners coach Bob Stoops had just got done touting freshman quarterback Sam Bradford's statistics as comparable to 2003 Heisman Trophy winner Jason White and other top quarterbacks when he was asked who would get his vote for the Heisman this season.

His first response? Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel.

"It's fair to say I think Chase and I like the guy at Arkansas, (Darren) McFadden," Stoops said after pausing for a moment.

Stoops said he also liked California's dynamic receiver and kick returner DeSean Jackson, who has been slowed by thumb and leg injuries after a strong start that helped the Bears reach the No. 2 ranking.

"I just thought the games I saw of him last year and early this year he was pretty special," Stoops said.

Still, Stoops said he thought Bradford deserved some consideration since he was the nation's top-rated passer. He's completed 70 percent of his passes for 2,670 yards and 32 touchdowns with only seven interceptions, and on Thursday was named one of 10 finalists for the Manning Award. One of Oklahoma's two losses came after Bradford went out with a concussion in the first quarter at Texas Tech.

"I'd vote for Sam too. I've got three votes," Stoops said. "I don't think it's fair to talk about any one guy."

So why hasn't Bradford received as much Heisman hype as Daniel, McFadden or Florida quarterback Tim Tebow?

"No one coming in expected much of him, and then outside of that I don't know why else because the guy's numbers speak for himself and he's really done it in 11 games, not 12," Stoops said.

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The Sooners have spent some chilly nights in Arrowhead Stadium since Stoops started leading them to Big 12 championship games, but don't count him among those who think that's enough of a reason to play the game in a dome every year.

This year's game will be held in San Antonio's Alamodome at the end of what's supposed to be a 75-degree day.

"The games we have had in Kansas City have been fabulous. I just think the environment has been great, it's a great stadium, the people in Kansas City are first-class in everything that we've done up there," Stoops said. "So I have no complaints, other than yeah, it's tough. ...

"Fortunately it had snowed the night before or freezing rained the night before (last year's game), as opposed to the day of the game. If that happens on the day of the game, it's not going to be the best, of course."

Other than the Alamodome, the Big 12 title game has also been played in St. Louis at what's now called the Edward Jones Dome and at Houston's Reliant Stadium, which has a retractable roof.

"I think it gets down to, like most things, finances. What are they bidding for it? If they know they're getting it every year, they don't have to bid a lot," Stoops said. "Same thing if it's between St. Louis and San Antonio. Well, you get it one year, we get it the next. No sense in bidding on it."



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