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Bob Stoops snaps at Nick Saban

BRISTOL, Conn. -- Bob Stoops responded to Alabama coach Nick Saban's comments about the Sugar Bowl being a "consolation game" as quickly and decisively as the Sooners did in last season's 45-31 upset of the Tide.

"They didn't look like it was a consolation game on that first drive when they scored a touchdown and everyone thought they were going to rout us," the Oklahoma coach said. "I've been in plenty of those [non-national title games]. We've played in a bunch of national championship games, right? ... That's a good one.

"So that means I've got a built-in excuse the next time we don't play for a national championship?"

Stoops was in Bristol Wednesday for a round of interviews.

On Tuesday, Saban, who was in Bristol, talked about the challenge of getting his team to play Oklahoma as to "try to play in a consolation game."

Stoops also discussed critics that suggest the Big 12 should add a conference title game. The Big 12 is the only Power 5 conference that doesn't have a league championship game.

"Think about it: mathematically we play everybody, they [the SEC] don't play everybody," Stoops said. "For instance Texas A&M. They play eight conference games.

"They have Lamar, Rice, SMU and Louisiana Monroe. Boy those are all a bunch of toughies, right? We have nine conference games. So if [Texas A&M] was fortunate enough to be in the SEC championship game, they would play nine conference games at the end of the day and they have all those four 'toughies' to go with it.

"We have nine conference games and we're playing Tennessee. In a few years we have Ohio State, we just came off a series with Notre Dame and Florida State. So that's like 10 conference games. If you're playing a tough non-conference schedule to go with nine [Big 12] games, that's a tough schedule."

Besides Oklahoma's nine Big 12 opponents this season, the Sooners' non-conference schedule features Tennessee, Louisiana Tech and Tulsa. The Sooners have one of the more ambitious future non-conference schedules, with home-and-home series against Ohio State, UCLA, Army, Nebraska, Michigan and LSU.

"In the end, it's worked for us," Stoops said. "It's refreshing when you win [those type of games]. For the most part it's been positive for us."

The win against Alabama also was gratifying for Stoops because he had previously questioned the overall strength of the SEC.

"They said 'the SEC this, the SEC that,' " Stoops said. "I said, 'You talk like all 14 teams are this, that and the other thing.' I said, 'You have to give credit to the first one or two that have won the national championship, but don't act like they're all doing that.'

"The year I said that, the bottom half of the league was like 0-36 against the top half of the league. The bottom half of the league isn't beating anybody. So they jumped on that I was getting on the bottom half of the league. Things circle and people only say what they want to hear. What I said wasn't false. The bottom half wasn't beating many people. That was my only point."

Stoops realized he would be criticized even more if the Sooners had lost the Sugar Bowl.

"After we won I didn't have to hear anybody after that," Stoops said. "That's the bottom line. Everybody had their computers loaded and their microphones loaded, and they had to delete it. That was it.

"It felt good; it was positive. Because I know everybody was ready to jump on us, on me in particular, on what I had to say, if we went the other way. That all had to be deleted. There's a little bit of validation in what I had to say. Fortunately it worked out in a positive way. I still believe in what I said."

Stoops said he also heard from numerous Texas high school coaches after the Sooners' victory against Alabama.

"They were pleased how that all went," Stoops said. "We go down there, of course, through Texas/Oklahoma recruiting. I was surprised how many Texas high school coaches just pulled me aside because they felt validated.

"Half of our roster, or more, are kids from Texas. [They felt] that 'We've got good football players, too. And at the end of the day, there's not a lot of difference between the top schools in each conference.' At the end of the day, they were really pleased the way it happened the way it did. It sort of validated that area of the country.

"At the end of the day, we can play with anybody. And that was fairly evident. It wasn't fluky."

ESPN.com's Travis Haney and Adam Rittenberg contributed to this report.

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Stoops Talks Sugar Bowl Win
Stoops Talks Sugar Bowl Win
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops talks about his team's victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and why it felt good.
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sports espn college football consolation nick saban alabama crimson tide oklahoma sooners big 12 sec bob stoops
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