Stoops Away: Why a Coaching Change in Norman Would Mean Texas Dominance

Jeff DillonCorrespondent IDecember 2, 2009

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JANUARY 07:  Head coach Bob Stoops of the Oklahoma Sooners speaks during the FedEx BCS Head Coaches Press Conference at Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa on January 7, 2009 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

At this point, according to anyone not named Adam Schefter anyways, it appears Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops will stay in Norman for his 12th season with the Sooners.

However, a disappointing 2009 campaign, as well as a growing sense of frustration toward the program’s recent BCS woes, seems to make the possibility of Stoops exiting for greener pastures more and more of a possibility.

Read this carefully, OU fans: Don’t let the man go.

If Stoops leaves for Notre Dame, the NFL, or, heck, the Norman Pop Warner Association, it will only result in one thing: more Texas dominance.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at where Sooners football was before Stoops arrived.

The late 1980s saw the program begin to flounder under the care of Barry Switzer.

NCAA violations tainted one of the nation’s most accomplished programs, pushing on-field success increasingly further into the background.

Taking over for Switzer in 1988, Gary Gibbs cleaned up the program’s image but had trouble producing wins the way Switzer had.

In fact, Oklahoma never won more than five games in the Big Eight conference under Gibbs.

What followed Gibbs was two even more disastrous tenures under Howard Schnellenberger (5-5-1 in 1995) and John Blake (12-22 from 1996-1998).

OU football was quickly careening off the map of college football’s elite programs, and everyone from Tulsa to Tuscaloosa knew it.

But, then came Bob Stoops.

In his first year, Stoops led the Sooners back to their first bowl game in four years. In his second, Oklahoma won its first BCS championship.

Since then, Stoops has tallied a 115-29 overall record and a 71-16 mark in the Big 12.

Oklahoma has won six conference titles and has appeared in seven BCS bowls during Stoops’ reign.

Of course, that last point is typically followed by the fact that Stoops’ teams are an unimpressive 2-5 in BCS games, having lost in each of their last five appearances, including three BCS title games.

Couple that sad statistic with this season’s 7-5 disappointment, and you have yourself a growing sense of discontent breeding among both boosters and fans in Norman.

But even in the “what have you done for me lately?” world of college football, Oklahoma supporters would be wise to remember exactly what Stoops has done for a program that had lost itself by the mid-1990s.

Stoops not only made the Sooners perennial national title contenders again, he restored Norman as an attractive place for the nation’s top recruits.

Names like Jason White, Adrian Peterson, and Sam Bradford all came to play for him. Better television deals and ratings quickly followed.

Simply put: Stoops made OU football look like OU football again.

Anyone who thinks a “fresh start” with a new hire in Norman would be a good thing for this program should think again.

If not, get ready for an extended period of dominance from OU’s rival: the Texas Longhorns.

Mack Brown, who used to be chastised for his inability to beat Oklahoma, has led the Longhorns to wins in four of the last five Red River Rivalry games.

And, while OU has struggled on the national scene, Texas is 3-0 in BCS games, with a national title in 2006.

To make matters worse, this year’s Longhorns squad is one win away from playing for another BCS title.

Texas has established itself as the recruiting giant of the Big 12, as well, in recent years.

Currently, ranks Texas’ 2010 recruiting class first in the nation. Oklahoma ranks sixth.

The bottom line is that Texas is slowly but surely establishing itself as the football power west of the Mississippi (see: USC’s 2009 downfall).

No other program in the region has the combination of facilities, history, and support to consistently compete with Texas other than Oklahoma.

And the only man who knows how to be better than Mack Brown is Bob Stoops. He’s done it before, and he can do it again.

The argument that Oklahoma is slipping and needs a new attitude to turn things around is weak and shortsighted.

Any coaching change will mean at least two or three years of “transitioning.” Just ask Michigan fans how those things usually go.

Oklahoma’s best chance to remain among the nation’s elite football programs in the near future is to keep Bob Stoops in Norman.

For as long as it can. For as much money as he wants.

Some Sooners fans may be hoping for a new face to lead a program coming off one of its most disappointing seasons in over a decade.

They should just be aware that Texas fans are hoping for the same thing.


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