Oklahoma Football: Why Bob Stoops Is Still the Right Coach for the Sooners

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Oklahoma Football: Why Bob Stoops Is Still the Right Coach for the Sooners
USA TODAY Sports
Bob Stoops is living up to what's expected of him at Oklahoma.

Oklahoma football fans have a right to criticize Bob Stoops after the 41-13 pasting the Sooners took from Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. 

After all, Stoops is the figurehead of the football program, and the Sooners didn't put on a good showing against the Aggies.

Despite the frustrating loss in the national spotlight, however, it's unrealistic to think the Sooner head coach isn't the best OU could ask for.

Granted, Oklahoma's recent performances in big-time bowl games is somewhat troubling. But before we get into that, let's step back and consider what Stoops has accomplished in Norman.

For starters, he has a record of 149-36 in his 14 seasons, including a mark of 81-5 at home. He's won one national championship and led Oklahoma to three additional title game appearances.

He's also guided the Sooners to a bowl game every season and captured a record eight Big 12 championships.

That figures to an average record of about 10.6 wins and 2.6 losses per year. Additionally, OU hasn't gone more than two consecutive years without winning at least a share of the conference title.

In games against chief rivals Texas and Oklahoma State, Stoops is a combined 20-8.

Last but not least, Stoops has produced two Heisman Trophy winners, 36 All-Americans and 12 first-round NFL draft picks.

Without a doubt, Stoops has resurrected a sleeping giant and returned it to consistent national prominence. In the 10 seasons prior to his arrival in 1999, OU averaged 5.4 victories and made only three bowl appearances. 

Now, with the consistent success Stoops has enjoyed, the Sooners are expected to compete for the national championship each and every season.

It's easy to take that for granted. But the very presence of this expectation is a testament to Bob Stoops' success. The bar couldn't be raised any higher.

Of course, we must examine Oklahoma's postseason struggles. Stoops is only 7-7 overall in bowl games at Oklahoma, with a record of 3-4 since 2006.

Moreover, the Sooners are 3-5 in BCS games, including lopsided losses to USC and West Virginia.

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The most recent Cotton Bowl loss to Texas A&M was certainly deflating and puzzling. Not so much the fact the Sooners lost, but rather the nature of the defeat. OU failed to score in the second half and looked lethargic and utterly overwhelmed.

But give Texas A&M and the ridiculously talented Johnny Manziel a lot of credit. The Aggies were one of the best teams in the country this season. It was more a case of them winning the game than Oklahoma losing it.

The Sooners were simply not capable of stopping Manziel, but neither was national champion Alabama or almost every other team the Aggies faced in 2012.

But the Sooners were certainly expected to at least compete with the Aggies. And amid Stoops' recent losses in major bowl games, it's legitimate to argue that the "Big Game Bob" label is losing its luster.

Even so, Stoops is, at the very least, one of the better coaches in the country. It's debatable whether he is still considered "elite." 

With him at the helm, OU fans can expect at least 10 wins a season, a conference championship at least every other year and perennial inclusion in the national championship discussion.

What more could you ask for?

The frustration with failures in bowl games is warranted and understandable. But the frustration itself is a reflection of Stoops' success as a head coach. He has achieved at such a high level that anything less than serious contention for the national championship is a disappointment.

That doesn't mean one can't criticize Stoops for certain aspects of OU's performance.

The Sooner defense, for example, has looked suspect and even inept at times in recent seasons (Texas A&M and West Virginia this season; Baylor last season).

Also, the offense seems to lack creativity from time to time.  The Cotton Bowl was a great example of this. The 30-13 Notre Dame loss this season is also relevant.  

One can think of additional complaints to level against Stoops, and most of them are probably justified.

But such criticisms shouldn't escalate to the point of questioning Stoops' competence as the Sooners' head man. Considering his achievements and the consistent expectation of success he's established in Norman, it's silly to call for a change. 

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