For Oklahoma football, coach Stoops is a renaissance man
College Football Videos
When he accepted the job at Oklahoma, Bob Stoops was reminded of the bad ole days.
That, of course, preceded the good ole days when the Sooners ranked among the college football heavyweights under Barry Switzer and Bud Wilkinson before that.
“This was really a downtrodden program,” Stoops recalled this week. “When we got here in 1999, they hadn't had a winning season in five years.
“They were getting beat up. Some of the scores were pretty horrific the way we were losing to Nebraska (73-21 in 1996) and Texas A&M (51-7 in 1997).”
Times have changed. Oklahoma is 7-2, 5-1 in the Big 12 and ranked No. 13 entering Saturday's 7 p.m. game against West Virginia (5-4, 2-4) at Milan Puskar Stadium.
“Oklahoma is going to be a tremendous challenge,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “They are a very storied program that is extremely well coached. Bob has been there for 14 years and won many championships. They have great players, and they develop them well. They recruit well. It is a very structured program.
“The one thing that never changes is the effort that they play with, the nastiness that they play with. They play with a tremendous amount of energy.”
Stoops' solution was to repair belief in a program that went 157-29-4 with three national championships and 12 Big Eight championships from 1973-1988.
“The first thing we did was embrace the tradition,” said Stoops, who has gone 141-36 with one national title and seven Big 12 crowns.
“There's a common theme, too, that it couldn't be done anymore, to play at that level. We didn't buy into that.”
In his first season, Stoops guided Oklahoma to a 7-5 record and its first bowl appearance in five years.
His message to his players?
“This is what we're supposed to play like — those guys in the past,” the Youngstown native said. “I'm supposed to coach like those guys. You're supposed to play like all those different All-Americans. We're going to do all we can to live up to it and not hide from it.”
Oklahoma's playing in a bowl game in Stoops' first season — the Sooners lost to Mississippi in the Independence Bowl — set the stage for a 13-0 record and the school's first national championship in 15 years the following season.
“We didn't come in talking about a three- and four-year plan before we won,” said Stoops, who has never had a losing season at Oklahoma. “Players that were seniors and juniors, we told them we intend to win right away. We intend to be in a bowl game our first year. Fortunately, we did win seven games our first year and get to a bowl. Those kids hadn't done that, and they embraced us. They were excited about it, accepted us, and we got things going pretty fast.”
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- WVU notebook: Mountaineers focus on ‘national recruiting’
- Big 12 takes new look, new goal into media days
- WVU trying to pick up pace in Big 12