They're the patriarchs of their respective programs—the men tasked with shouldering the burden of rabidly intense, demanding fan bases. Victories are expected, regardless of opponent. Losses will simply not be tolerated.
Such is the life for Brian Kelly and Bob Stoops.
Kelly and Stoops—head coaches at Notre Dame and Oklahoma, respectively—will square off on Saturday at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Each man will display the fruits of his labor, all the while battling the potentially crippling stress of being solely responsible for the outcome.
These two coaches aren't new to the experience. Both are football men for life, with Stoops and Kelly having a combined 35 seasons of head coaching experience.
So whose experience will pay off under the lights in Norman on Saturday evening?
That's not a question that provides a simple answer. Therefore, a thorough analysis is necessary to determine whether Kelly or Stoops possesses the coaching edge.
Different people have differing views of coaching, but the intangibles can never be overlooked. How coaches choose to approach motivating their teams often plays an integral role in the product on the field.
Let's start with Stoops. In his 14th season in Norman, fans have become restless with his regime.
According to OU Insider, Stoops has reached his high water mark as coach of the Sooners.
I think the Bob Stoops era has reached it zenith. The energy and fire and aggressivness of his earlier teams is noticiably lacking in his recent teams.
I think when he got to OU he was desperate to win and make a name for himself and he was the engine that drove the car and now he seem content with letting other things drive the car.
If that is indeed the case, getting his team up for a crucial matchup against another top 10 figures to be a challenge for Stoops. The last time a top-25 opponent rolled into Norman, the Sooners dropped a 24-19 decision to Kansas State that was predicated on three momentum-killing turnovers.
Kelly, on the other hand, has showed an ability to effectively motivate his team.
He consistently has a finger on the pulse of team, allowing Kelly to properly diagnose any problems that may arise, according to Irish Sports Daily.
I think you motivate through a lot of different stimuli. I think one is morale. I think if you have great morale and you have a trust within your group, that creates that intrinsic motivation that is so necessary for any successful business or organization.
And I think the preparation that we give our players during the week, they gain a confidence level going into the game that they are as prepared physically and mentally as anyone in the country.
Because of the increasingly clear disparity between both head coaches in terms of their ability as motivators, the winner is an obvious one.
Who has the coaching edge?
EDGE: Brian Kelly
Both head coaches have won a national championship, though Kelly accomplished the feat twice at the Division II level while at Grand Valley State University. Stoops' 2000 Sooner squad claimed BCS national championship and were runners up to Florida in 2008.
Kelly has only been coaching at the BCS level for five-and-a-half seasons, while Stoops has spent each of his 13-plus seasons at the same level. Not much stock can truly be placed on the difference in years coaching at the BCS level, though it's worth mentioning.
EDGE: Bob Stoops
Giving the edge to one coach in this contest could truly go either way, making the decision increasingly difficult.
Because the game is in Norman, and because Sooner fans are worked up about Notre Dame rolling into town, I have to give the coaching edge to Stoops.