Mike Stoops May Want Josh Heupel to Coach at Arizona.....Again
With all the talented quarterbacks to go under center at Oklahoma in the last decade, Josh Heupel could arguably have been the best.
Jason White and Sam Bradford did turn out to be Heisman winners, but Josh brought home the Crystal ball, something both Jason and Sam have admitted they would gladly trade in place of a trip to New York and a stiff-arm trophy.
While debating which one of the three, and it is between these three, was the best quarterback at Oklahoma during the 2000's could go on forever, one thing is certain.
It all started with Josh Heupel.
When Bob Stoops took over as head coach at Oklahoma, he immediately went to work on restoring the Sooners to national prominence. One of the most important moves he made was bringing in an unknown kid out of Snow Junior College.
Although, Bob could not have known at the time just how much that move would pay off, and in how many ways.
In just his second and final season (2000), Heupel led the Sooners through the famed "Murderers row" and capped his collegiate career with a stunning victory over what many considered at the time as the greatest team ever in Florida State.
Who can forget Heupel being hoisted by his teammates in victory, or Josh's exclamation of, "It doesn't get any sweeter than this, baby!"
The following NFL draft saw the Aberdeen, S.D., product taken as the 11th quarterback and the 177th pick overall by the Miami Dolphins.
But NFL glory was stubbed by a wrist injury, spending only one year with each the Dolphins, Green Bay Packers, and finally NFL Europe.
Josh then made the obvious move, a move everyone knew he was destined to do anyway after any NFL career. To coach the game of football.
So the one-time Oklahoma signal caller found himself back in Norman, this time as a graduate assistant for the 2003 season.
Stoops put the new found coach assisting Kevin Wilson on the offensive line, which was a new area for the young study.
"Actually this just made sense for me, because as an assistant coach you have to know how to coach all positions." Josh admitted of his new role.
But Josh was known to frequently "sneak" over to then quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Chuck Long's camp to help get a feel for the direction of his new career, and in part to help prepare Jason White, who's Heisman year can be somewhat traced back to Heupel's tutelage.
Though Josh couldn't know it at the time, Long would end up playing a huge role in Heupel's life a few years later.
After just two years as a graduate assistant, Josh got a call from a familiar voice. It was Bob Stoops' little brother Mike, the head coach of the Arizona Wildcats, and little brother was offering Heupel a chance to step up in the coaching ranks, from a graduate assistant to an actual position coach over tight ends.
Even though it would once again be coaching another unfamiliar position, it turned to good to pass up, so once again Josh left the program he most loved for yet another new challenge across the map.
Most of the Sooner nation held a similar outlook of the move: that Heupel would be gone for a few years, gain some coaching experience, then return again.
Arizona was just a prepatory job, to get Heupel ready for a more serious role in his coaching future, a future that was starting to shape up nicely.
Late in the 2005 season, Chuck Long packed up for San Diego State, and in doing so, opened two crucial coaching positions all at once.
The first, and most important, was offensive coordinator. Many Sooner fans are grateful that spot stayed "in house" and went to Kevin Wilson.
Next was the quarterbacks coach spot. The name Josh Heupel was the first on many minds and It didn't take long for Bob to extend the offer to his now full-fledged coach to return to his alma mater.
Josh himself admitted it was an easy decision, calling Oklahoma "...a home of mine." Add to that the fact that he would finally be coaching the position he knows best, quarterbacks.
The move was a lock, not to mention instant success. Many remember seeing Josh on the sidelines for OU's Holiday bowl win over Oregon. But he wouldn't really get his feet wet until the following season.
With the scandal that was Rhett Bomar getting kicked off the team at the beginning of the 2006 season, Heupel had found himself in a rough spot at the start of his first season as quarterbacks coach: Having to move senior Paul Thompson back behind center from wideout just one day before the start of fall camp.
After getting cheated badly at Oregon, and a tough loss to Texas, Paul held together nicely under the guidance of Heupel, even shining at times. Thompson's Big 12 championship (2006) performance against Nebraska was one for the ages, stunning the Huskers by coming out throwing early and often.
As the years rolled by, Huepel's students reached the heights of college football. Sam Bradford may have surpassed Josh in the hearts of Sooner fans while under his tutelage.
With the 2007 and 2008 seasons seeing the Cherokee kid break almost every record in the books, filling the trophy case with every major award a college signal caller can achieve. All the while Josh was at Sam's side, advising and instructing.
A lot of Sam's ability to dissect a defense is credited to time spent with Heupel out on the practice field. Hours learning how to check down and pull defenders with your eyes in a way only someone like Josh, who did it himself, can teach.
Now after the final season of the decade was strewn with injury, Heupel may have submitted his best work to date.
Not many coaches would react so well to a star like Bradford going down. But Josh had suddenly lost his No. 1 guy before, and his experience played a bigger part than most people may have noticed in what little success OU claimed this year.
But once again, Mike Stoops noticed, and once again, he may be calling Josh Heupel for another "step up" in the coaching world.
This time, all the way up to offensive coordinator of a Pac-10 team, a big-time move with big-time implications. A chance to really get your name in the mix for a lot of opportunities if you can have success.
Will Mike Stoops make that call again? If so, Will Josh say yes? If he says yes, then could he be gone for good this time?
So far everything is quiet, but that can change quickly.
Most believe that Heupel isn't ready for such a jump. But Bob Stoops himself has said of his former quarterback turned coach, "I think he's matured beyond his years coaching-wise."
Losing coaches is part of the game. But losing a coach like Josh Heupel will be very hard to replace, if even possible at this point.
Kevin Wilson deciding to stay for at least one more year may have averted an offensive disaster, but it isn't the only disaster to pose a threat to Oklahoma's offense.
The Sooner nation should hope this one ends the way the first one did. With the coach in question staying in Norman.
If only for just one more year.
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