The 36-20 Longhorn win in the Red River Shootout was likely the last time that Mack Brown and Bob Stoops square off in the contest at the Texas State Fair. Brown, a coach who appears to be on his way out after 16 seasons in Austin and 29 total as a head coach, is providing a glimpse to the inevitable future of Stoops.
Stoops and Brown are forever tied together, arriving in the Big 12 just a year apart and working, seemingly in unison, to elevate two of college football's most storied programs. The two men pushed each other to excel, Stoops' early success forced Brown to elevate his game, and ultimately, both would win national titles.
This is Stoops' fifteenth season as a head coach, nearly half that of Mack Brown, and although he seems to be going strong, the long play for Big Game Bob is the same as all of the coaches before him in this era. An era where coaches are hired to be fired, where "what have you done for me lately" is all that matters and where, even to buy time at a job, heads have to roll somewhere.
Mack Brown fired long-time assistant Greg Davis in 2010, brought in new faces on offense in an effort to right his ship. This year the head coach pushed Manny Diaz out as defensive coordinator in hopes of getting on track. Mark Richt, two seasons behind Stoops as a head coach with 13 years at Georgia, showed friend Willie Martinez the door and brought in Todd Grantham to show the higher-ups that he still wanted to win.
Even America's longest tenured college head coach, Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech, has had to restructure his staff in an effort to chase down success.
And Bob Stoops has already had to do the same. There was Willie Martinez, the first firing of an assistant that Stoops ever made. Then came James Patton, Jackie Shipp and Bruce Kittle after the 2012 season, as New OK reported. Stoops has reshuffled the deck and let people know he intends to keep winning.
However, with 15 years in the tank at Oklahoma, Stoops is going to need to find more success soon, before the natives get restless. 2008's BCS Championship appearance memories are fading, and the 2000 title win seems so long ago. The Sooners, with the loss to Texas in Dallas, again fit the bill of a team that is good, but not good enough.
Close, but not quite there is a problem of varying degrees on the collegiate landscape. For some schools, being in the hunt is acceptable. For others, winning it all is the metric by which success is measured. At Oklahoma, winning ten a year will get you far, but fans will certainly need another knock on the door of a championship soon.
For now, Stoops is on solid ground. He wins far more than he loses, keeps the Sooners in the Big 12 hunt and keeps his team in the Top 25. Mack Brown is not so much a cautionary tale as an example of how the business works for coaches of today.
Bob Stoops is not immune to that reality, no coach is. His best bet is to keep piling up wins and hopefully, go out on his own terms. If not, Stoops will be the guy who ultimately has to go, despite what he has meant to the university.
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