Norman, Oklahoma - University of Oklahoma head football coach Bob Stoops has drawn criticism for his behavior at a recent Dungeons & Dragons tournament. After failing to advance past the preliminary round of the Central Oklahoma Fantasy Questers Association's QuestFest 2011, Coach Stoops diverted blame to his character, the now-deceased Sir Robert of Youngstown-on-Mahoning.
"All you can do as a player is create a character and try to build up as many experience points as possible before the tournament," Stoops said in a post-preliminaries press conference. "I ran Sir Robert through a bunch of tough practice quests I wrote up in the back seat of the station wagon when mom and dad drove us out to see Mount Rushmore last summer. I prepared him for battle. He just messed up."
Despite withering media criticism, Stoops never relented. The football coach and fantasy role-playing enthusiast insisted throughout the press conference that Sir Robert, a fictional construct existing solely within Stoops' imagination, was solely to blame for his own imaginary demise.
"Look, I can't force my character to not fumble the Troll Slayer Sword the first time a forest orc hits him with an oaken battle club," responded Stoops. "And I can't go on the battlefield and make him shoot an Arrow of Death's Sleep directly into Cerberus's eye. We practiced that hundreds of times. I can only do so much. Those mistakes are on him."
Stoops's depiction of Sir Robert of Youngstown-on-Mahoning, a muscle-bound warrior with an exceptionally prominent chin.
Reporters questioned Stoops about several in-game gaffes, including one particularly disastrous episode in which Sir Robert failed to join his party in a carefully-choreographed assault on a red dragon. Instead of attacking the dragon, the bumbling fantasy-based warrior wandered into a nearby bog where he was ambushed by a troop of bandit dwarves. Sir Robert's charred and retreating make-believe companions "discovered" him several hours later, lying face-down in a ditch without even so much as his Cloak of Covering in his possession.
"Sir Robert knew he was supposed to execute a flanking maneuver," said Stoops. "We practiced that over and over again. It was just a dumb mental mistake on his part. I only make decisions and role the dice. The player character has to execute. Sir Robert just didn't do his job today."
Several of Stoops's teammates disagreed with the the coach's assessment of blame.
"Really?" asked an incredulous member of Stoops' adventuring party. "He blamed a fictional character for losing a dice game? What a shithead."
Stoops's fellow adventurers also questioned his disregard for imaginary medical emergencies. In one example, Sir Robert was ambushed and severely bludgeoned by a forest gnome. The tiny-fisted pummeling caused Sir Robert severe head trauma. Nevertheless, Stoops declined all offers of pretend medical assistance for his fictional character.
"His character hadn't even gotten a quarter of his strength back," said tournament spectator Geoff Hallsup. "There was a cleric in the party. He could have healed him with a Spell of Renewal and a few elven herbs. But Stoops just said 'he's going back in.' It was pretty reckless."
"That little gnome really did a number on Sir Robert," added Hallsup, whistling for effect. "Who knew such petite little fists could pound a guy so badly?"
As the damage points accumulated, Stoops's behavior only grew more erratic. At one point, a red-faced Stoops launched into a 3-minute, profanity-laced tantrum directed at his table's Dungeon Master, 14 year-old Larry Steinberg.
"I didn't understand why he was yelling and cursing at me," Steinberg said in a post-adventure interview. "He rolled a 3. The rules clearly state that any roll of 3 or less was a miss. Mr. Stoops just kept screaming stuff like 'YOU NEED NEW GLASSES, STEINBERG! SIR ROBERT NAILED THAT F-ING ORC RIGHT IN HIS HAIRY F-ING ORC NUTSACK!'"
Stoops's tirade apparently involved more than just yelling. "Spittle and Moon Pie crumbs were flying out of his mouth," reported Steinberg. "At one point he started openly sobbing. Can you imagine? A 50 year-old man screaming and blubbering like an overgrown infant. I would have ejected him from the tournament, but I felt kind of sad for him."
"Besides," added Steinberg, "I figured Sir Robert would eventually stumble into a fatal beating by a garden fairy or a nymph or something."
Bob Stoops expresses his frustration with Dungeon Master Larry Steinberg. (Photo courtesy of ACE)
Other players in the tournament were similarly unnerved by Coach Stoops's behavior and appearance.
"Honestly, he was kind of creepy," said tournament participant Andrew Squelch. "I mean, at first he was okay. He showed up in full chain mail like everyone else. But when he tried to strap on his battle helmet, he got really frustrated. No matter how tightly he pulled on the leather chin strap, it wouldn't fit. The strap just dangled there."
"I'd never seen a chin amputee before," added fellow D&Der Danton Bibb. "I didn't even know that was anatomically possible."
Squelch and Bibb were not alone in their negative reviews of the Oklahoma football coach. Other competitors in the dice-based role-playing tournament described Stoops as "loathesome," "pathetic," "a pasty-faced loser," and "really just a huge bag of shit."
For his part, Stoops remains unconcerned with the public's perception. "I don't worry what other people think about me," he said. "As long as I keep slaying imaginary dragons and pretending to bed beautiful valkyries, the COFQA record books will write themselves."
"Sir Robert let us all down today," the OU head coach continued. "But I'll be back next year with an even awesomer, handsomer warrior with an even stronger chin."