Friday, December 12, 2014

R.I.P. Bob Stoops--1999-2014

The Bob Stoops era ended Saturday, December 6 at approximately 6:30 p.m.

Ended in the most appropriate fashion for the most disappointing season in the Stoops eras 16 years.

A mind-boggling decision by the head coach to punt a second time with 1:01 seconds remaining in a 35-28 game.

Tyreek Hill's 92-yard punt return for a touchdown amidst the fog-mist skies to tie the game was about as surreal a moment as I have witnessed in 35 years of attending football games at Owen Field.

And completely justified for the stupidity of the head coaches decision as it was a final nail in the coffin of a coach and a disastrous football season.

A microcosm of a season that was derailed in early October in Cowtown by a series of coaching miscues and bad quarterbacking.

A follow up performance in Norman two weeks later again featuring more questionable coaching, bad quarterback play and a record-setting field goal kicker who went astray when we needed him most.

A complete melt-down three weeks later once again in Norman in embarrassing, crowd-booing fashion to the new king of the Big 12. Same culprits hit again. Poor quarterbacking, poor coaching and a complete lack of competitiveness which was non-chalantly explained post-game as "separation" between programs.

And, finally a complete meltdown in the final moments of a Bedlam game that will go down in infamy one day prior to Pearl Harbor Day as the most sorry coaching decision in the Stoops era.

Sadly, 21 seniors played their last game at Owen Field and left with about the worst scenario they could ever imagine--walking off the field the better team but defeated by their in-state little brother in walk-off fashion.

The shock and disgusted feeling that overcame myself and the remaining fans who stayed to the bitter end (local media reported about 1/3 of the announced 85,000+ crowd had hit the exit gates prior to the painful final 1:01 of the game) was only a small percentage of the feeling of anguish that must have overcome those seniors.

Blake Bell. Mr. Bedlam-killer last year whose last minute heroics while coming off the bench stunned OSU with a last minute touchdown for the win. And, his last-second touchdown in his patented Bell-Dozer formation for the tie leading to the overtime win in 2012. He switched to tight end this year to give his team a better chance to win a championship by paving the way for Trevor Knight to take over the starting quarterback job. His final game as a Sooner won't be remembered for his spectacular catches but the last second loss. I am left to wonder how he would have done staying at quarterback all year.

Aaron Ripowski. The unsung senior fullback whose bone-jarring blocks sprang countless runs by OU running backs the past four seasons as well as leading Samaje Perine to smash the college football rushing record against Kansas earlier this year. Ripowski incredibly scored three touchdowns in Bedlam, one by pass from freshman Cody Thomas, and no one is even talking about it after the game.

Tyrus Thompson/Daryl Williams. How about two of the best tackles in Oklahoma history going out to this Bedlam disaster?

Chuka Ndulue. How about Mr. Bedlam buster in last years' game in Stillwater when he bulled through the line and stuffed an OSU running back on the goal line ending a last minute scoring opportunity? Nope. My lasting memory of Chuka will be after the final field goal for the win watching him sitting on Owen Field, helmet off with hands by his sides looking helplessly around to the scene as if saying "WTF?"  Ndulue summed up his coaches decision like this: “If you’re a smart guy, you’d figure the defense can hold them from going down the field,” said OU defensive lineman Chuka Ndulue. “But you know, things didn’t go as planned."

Michael Hunnicutt. How about the best kicker in OU history? Shanking a 42-yard field goal in overtime that layed the foundation for the ending? Nope. He'll go down in history as the kicker who blew two games by choking on field goals and an extra point.

There are other seniors who played their last game Saturday. Julian Wilson, Adam Shead, Quentin Hayes, Tony Feo, Caleb Gastelum and Tyler Evans among others. All but Hayes played Saturday. They will all be remembered for better moments than the final scene in Norman Saturday but this one will reverberate in their minds forever.

My final images from Owen Field last Saturday will remain a long time as well.

Bob Stoops. A eerily fidgety Bob Stoops standing on the field before the pre-game senior introductions with their families at mid-field. Coach Stoops was leaving for the locker room after just huddling with the players only, when he suddenly stopped in the end zone and turned and looked back upon the scene. I am sure it is hard for any coach to not feel the sense of loss of losing his senior players, many of whom have been in the program for five years or more. But this moment seemed more poignant. Stoops stopped, looked back, put his hands on his hips, turned back toward the locker room, stopped again, put his hands in his pockets while looking one final time at the players and their families and then finally turning and walking off of the field. I am sure I am making more out of this than there is but it sure looked like a coach who was unsure how to handle his emotions and who might have just been taking in the scene one final time. Who knows?

Tony Feo. A senior offensive lineman who hadn't played much in his career. I noticed he was in the last few series of the game at left guard. Amazing. Feo hadn't played much if any at all this year but there he was with the game at 35-28 in the final moments. I was thinking, "What the hell is Stoops thinking?" A tight ball game that was not at hand and needing a couple of first downs to run clock and keep OSU off the field and there was Tony Feo at guard. Was Coach Stoops rewarding his seniors with mop-up playing time during crunch time? No. As it turned out Feo was subbing for starting Adam Shead who was injured during the game but it was a head-scratcher to look up and see Feo playing in such a pivotal moment.

Julian Wilson. The much aligned senior safety turned corner had made national network highlights during his Baylor sideline meltdown yelling at Mike and Bob Stoops after Baylor marched right down the field twice for scoring drives to open the second half essentially putting the game out of reach. He of broken thumb fame suffered during the first half against Baylor. Julian had not played much if at all in the games since Baylor including Saturday during Bedlam. Replaced by freshman Jordan Thomas. But lo and behold, there was good ole' Julian Wilson inserted back at right corner during OSU's final touchdown drive. You can bet Mike Gundy and the freshman quarterback spotted Wilson because two passes later, OSU scored over Wilson. My picture frame moment of his career flashing right before the Owen Field eyes. Like Feo, was Coach Stoops giving Julian one more series in his career? No again, as Wilson was subbing for an injured Jordan Thomas. Which begs the question--how much more did the Stoopses brothers need to see of Wilson to know that he couldn't cover in that situation? Is he the only corner OU has?

Just a few final images.


For the record, Bob Stoops is certainly not dead and probably not going anywhere.

Too much success equity.

Arrogance. Stubbornness. Complacency.


But the Bob Stoops era as we once knew it is certainly dead.

Gone as suredly as is Big Game Bob.

And 8 Big 12 Championships.

And 1 National Championship.

And a once potent home field advantage that blew up with a 3-3 home record this year.

And a four loss season record.

Losses to TCU, Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma State.

Don't look now but there is a new sheriff in the Big 12.

And their names are Patterson, Snyder, Briles and yes Gundy who has now beaten Stoops twice in the past four games.

Bob Stoops who is one of the best coaches the past 16 years isn't even the best coach in the Big 12 anymore.

Will he ever surface again?

Not in his past form.

It will have to be a reincarnation and rebirth that began at 6:30 p.m. last Saturday in Norman because that Bob Stoops is certainly dead.

Stay tuned to see how long the second act lasts.

History shows it may not be too much longer.

Bud Wilkinson hung it up after 17 years.

And, yep. Barry Switzer only lasted 16 years as well until the rapin', shootin' and druggin' ran him out of town. His words not mine.

Coincidentally, Switzer's last game was January 2, 1989 in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando against Clemson. A 13-6 loss was his last as coach of the Sooners. He resigned under pressure the following summer.

If you haven't noticed, Bob Stoops just finished his 16th season in Norman and his next game is the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando versus Clemson. Against his former defensive coordinator Brent Venables who was pushed out in 2011 in favor of a return of brother Mike Stoops for posting the 55th ranked defense in the country. Don't look now but brother Stoops just turned in the 53rd ranked defense in his third season. What a turnaround.

Somewhere I think there are disgruntled Sooner fans hoping for a 50-0 beat down by Clemson and Venables to put a final nail in the Stoops era once and for all.

I'm not one of those but after this disastrous season, the thought did cross my mind.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tell Me, Who Are You?

I woke up in a Soho doorway
The policeman knew my name
He said, "You can go sleep at home tonight
If you can get up and walk away"
I staggered back to the underground
The breeze blew back my hair
I remembered throwing punches around and
preachin' from my chair

Well, who are you?
Who are you
Who, who, who, who?
I really wanna know
Who are you
Who, who, who, who
Tell me, who are you?
Who are you
Who, who, who, who?
'Cause I really wanna know

The most disappointing season in Bob Stoops 16 years as head coach of the University of Oklahoma comes to a whimpering stop next Saturday.

And, it's fitting the season of futility ends against a Bedlam opponent that has shown no teeth this year and has been close but no cigar in several years past against the Sooners.

No championship this year for the coach who continually says he coaches to win championships.

In fact, there has been only one championship for Stoops and his Sooners the past five years. That's not the intended meaning of the oft-repeated school slogan "There's Only One Oklahoma!"

A closer analogy is the Big 12's dual-meaning "One True Champion!" moniker that repeatedly aired during Big 12 games this year. Since 2010, the Big 12 has had five different champions:

Oklahoma State.
Kansas State.*
TCU/Baylor/Kansas State (TBD)

*No, we're not claiming a co-championship in 2012 with Kansas State because we lost the head-to-head in Norman.

So, the five year Big 12 conference record for Bob Stoops is: 32-11, 74%.

Decent numbers but not by Oklahoma standards. And therein lies the rub.

Bob Stoops has slipped the past five years.

Art Briles, Gary Patterson and Bill Snyder have caught up and passed his Sooners.

Gone is the 39-game home winning streak. Up in flames to a bad Texas Tech team in 2011. Gone is the stranglehold he had on Big 12 Championships his first 10 years. Gone as in winning the recruiting wars in Texas.

And what is worse yet for Sooner fans, gone is his Big Game Bob advantage in key games. Just ask any TCU, Baylor or Kansas State fan about how good Oklahoma used to be...


No, just pragmatism.

A closer look reveals why Oklahoma football has slipped.

PLOT STEALER: It all points back to the head coach who has lost his identity!


Bob Stoops is loyal to a fault. Perhaps too loyal.

He brought his brother back from Arizona in 2012 after he was run out of the desert in hopes of resurrecting the defensive mojo of the early 2000's.

The results: 0 Big 12 Championships. The worst defensive showing in school history in 2012 in West Virginia. Two back-to-back beat-downs by Baylor. That's right. Baylor. The team his brother was
brought back to beat!

After his corner who had a broken thumb and couldn't tackle continually played soft against a lethal pitch-and-catch Baylor offense opening the second half, Mike Stoops even had the audacity to say this post-game:

"There's been some separation in the programs."

Ya think? And it's not just on the field.

And what is worse, Mike Stoops has become a defensive sideline, side-show with his former Arizona assistant Tim Kish. The Stoops defense has not only been destroyed on the field but mocked by television announcers live on network television and chided by the fans in the stadium.

It's not just the win loss record. It's the way the record is being accomplished.

Embarrassing total breakdowns in coverage which result in angry outbursts at players.
"John Blake Bad" sloppy time management.
Inexcusable substitution penalties.
And, one statistic that any true Sooner fan will get: Oklahoma was once tied this season with Kansas and Iowa State for defensive time outs with 12! That my friends is inexcusable.

And those examples are just on the defensive side of the ball! A Stoops area of expertise in past years.

There is only one way to describe Mike Stoops and his defensive scheme: epic failure.

And that falls back directly into the lap of the person who sent the Sooner Schooner to Raising Arizona for him three years ago.

Bob Stoops has lost his defensive identity.

He made his chops on press-man coverage. Dana Holgorsen, a longtime Stoops brothers nemesis, once called it "cat" coverage.

You know. "You got that cat, I got that cat."

It was vintage Bob Stoops defense.

I'll put my best man on your best receiver.

Lock them down.

And force you to beat us one on one.

That philosophy went up in flames for the second year in a row in Norman on November 8 and is the Rosetta Stone of everything that is wrong in Stoops Land.

Baylor marched right down the field untouched for two opening second half touchdown drives.

Sooner corners played 8-10 yards off the ball every snap.

No adjustments from Mike Stoops.

Just a lot of sideline yelling at broken thumb corner Julian Wilson from the brothers Stoops.

National television cameras just happened to catch the exchanges.

A fiery Wilson was unapologetic and unwavering in his response.

From the sounds of the boos ringing down from the soon to be half-full crowd in the stands surrounding Owen Field, most of the fans took Wilson's side of the debate.

A coach who has lost his identity.

A brother who is trying to find his.

Somewhere in Waco and Austin and Fort Worth and Manhattan, smiles are beaming from ear to ear.

Josh Heupel

On the offensive side, Josh Heupel continues to show his amateurism by his on-the-field play-calling and personnel management.

Think I am being too harsh?

Check this out. SMU isn't even considering Josh for their vacant head coaching job. Do you blame them?

I could go on for days about my disappointment with Josh Heupel and his lack of development as an offensive coordinator. But I'll save you some reading time and be concise.

In four years as offensive coordinator, he has averaged one game per season that is in the loss column because of his ill-conceived game plans (you can read further if you want but you get the point!)

OSU in 2011.
Kansas State in 2012.
Texas in 2013.
TCU or Kansas State in 2014. Pick one!

In just four seasons, Josh Heupel has shown he has no grasp of how to consistently put his players in position to win games by his game plans. He is too "textbook" in his approach, has no clue what situational football means and continually calls plays where his players make bad, game-changing choices.

I know. Players make plays.

But oh my gosh, Josh, what in the Heupel were you thinking on these four examples:

2011 Stillwater

An injury-depleted Oklahoma team limped into Stillwater in 2011 against a senior-laden OSU team laying in wait to win their first Big 12 Championship against their arch rival.

Everyone in Oklahoma knew the only way the Sooners had a chance was to control the clock with a run-heavy offense into a weak OSU defensive front seven.

So what did Sir Josh do? He unveiled a pass-heavy game plan with a depleted receiving corps that resulted in a 24-3 first half beat-down. Sooner running back Damien Williams had 10 carries for the entire ball game. Sound familiar Sooner fans? Samaje Perine had five carries against Baylor!

What did Bob Stoops have to say for himself afterwards:

"I noticed that too during the first half. (OU ran 8 running plays vs. 38 passing plays in the first half.) I brought it up to our coaches at half time."


2012 Norman

Sooner fans will remember two quarterback fumbles in the red zone that resulted in defensive touchdowns or stopped Sooner drives as the reason for this loss to Kansas State.

But I will submit that Josh Heupel's ill-conceived game plan also contributed heavily.

He continually put Landry Jones in bad situations with his play-calling that caused this loss.

His pass-to-run ratio of 47-23 flies in the face of reality. He had an injury depleted receiving corps and a strong running attack.  Instead, he chose to pass and "Bad" Landry reared his ugly head.

First up, with 7:38 remaining in the first quarter of a 3-0 Sooner lead, Heupel calls a three-wide set to the wide side of the field on 3rd and 13 from his own 13 yard line. If the ominous numerology of this play didn't hit home to him, he should of at least had a memory recognition back to last December in Stillwater.

Early in the 2nd quarter facing a 10-0 deficit, Heupel faced a similar situation and called a similar play with similar results. Landry Jones was flushed from the pocket from blindside pressure, scrambled to his right and was stripped of the ball resulting in a 59-yard fumble return to the one yard line that OSU punched in on the next play to make it 17-0. Later in the 3rd quarter down 24-3, flashing back to Saturday night's near fumbled pitch that was ruled an incomplete pass, Jones somehow lost the ball during his throwing motion which was picked up and returned five yards for an OSU defensive touchdown. This was just one of four turnovers by Landry Jones.

Kansas State circumstances were virtually identical. Jones faced blindside pressure, panicked and scrambled to his right when all of his receivers were spread left, was blindsided, stripped of the ball and Kansas State recovered for a 1-yard defensive touchdown.

Think Kansas State didn't notice his bad play calling tendencies?

“What we did all week was work on trying to flush him out of the pocket,” defensive end Adam Davis said. “We know he’s not good with pressure. If we get to his blind side he’s going to start getting jittery and try to move out of the pocket and scoot up and stuff. We really tried to cause pressure and get after him.”--Kansas City Star, September 23, 2012.

When pressed further, Stoops said,

"It was bad football."


2013 Texas

Anyone else still baffled how bad Heupel's game plan was in the Cotton Bowl?

A running quarterback had given Texas all kinds of problems in previous losses.

So what did Josh do? He tried to make Blake Bell a statuesque pocket passer and he got clobbered by an inspired Texas defensive line in Mack Brown's last stand in the Cotton Bowl.

No BellDozer, no diamond formation, no running game. Let's try and make good ole' Blake a pocket passer ala Peyton Manning or Tom Brady.

The Texas fans are still laughing at this one they stole.

And this was a year before Texas Strong came to town!

2014 TCU or Kansas State--Pick-em'

Ok, where do we start?

How about 3rd and 2 late in third quarter in Fort Worth in a tied game.

Instead of bulking up behind the largest offensive line in the nation, ESPN crawls continually showed how the OU line would rank as the 2nd largest in the NFL, Josh outsmarted himself again and called a slant pass that Trevor Knight telegraphed right into the TCU linebacker's arms.

Pick 6.

Ball game.

Let's try 4th and 1 late in the game trying to take the lead.

Instead of going heavy with the BellDozer or diamond or pistol formation, Josh dials up a quarterback read option out of the spread complete with a pulling left guard who runs right by the A-gap which Samaje Perine will soon occupy.


Stuffed. No gain.

Ball game.

How about K-State in Norman?

First and 10 on your own goal line?

Let's not try and hammer out a few yards and punt for field position

No. That's not in the Josh Heupel playbook.

Unfortunately, what is in there is sadness in Sooner fans eyes.

Josh dials up a pop-up pass down the goal line that everyone in the stadium including the K-State corner knew was coming.

The Wildcat corner took one step and picked off the lame duck for another pick-6.

Ball game.

How much more do you need?

Just like his head coach, Josh Heupel is living off his past glory in Norman. He also has a sister who is married to President Boren's son. Think he is feeling any pressure? Hardly.

Keep on keeping on, Josh. You'll be a fine assistant head coach at North Dakota State when your run is done in Sooner Land.

Unfortunately, by then Bob Stoops legacy will have been written in Norman and you'll be in the epitaph as an in over your head play caller who should be coaching quarterbacks somewhere in the Mountain West.

Bob Stoops

I'm afraid I am seeing an imperial head coach in Norman.

Coach Stoops body language, actions and words have been screaming he is not happy or just doesn't care to be in Norman.

He doesn't seem to get too much involved in the game plans anymore by his on-the-field results leaving most of the heavy lifting to his coordinators and just offers his Monday morning excuses, bye week vacations and post-game comments.

Yes, it was Sooner legend Jimbo Elrod who called into a Tulsa radio station after the Baylor loss and said Bob Stoops doesn't work hard anymore. Said he went to his Florida vacation home during the off-week before TCU. Say it isn't so Jimbo!

His arrogance, stubbornness and complacency has resulted in legendary shortness with reporters and is well documented during his 16 years in Norman. But now his comments are aimed at the fans with his unusual post-game response to a question about his thoughts on fans comments following the Baylor melt-down:

"So What?"

He tried to crawl back the next day and explain his comments were directed at social media and taken out of context but it was too late. Us season ticket holders who like to post on social media got it the first time.

Only time, built-up success equity and a mediocre team the past five years have sharpened the tone of his barbs with the media.

I would submit that Coach Stoops run of 16 seasons in Norman should come to an end sooner than later if this is as good as it gets.

He won't ever satisfy all of the boo-birds who finally surfaced at Owen Field on November 8 against Baylor and there aren't enough records to run through against the bottom half of the Big 12 to satisfy the remaining 50% of fans.

Bob Stoops isn't going to fire his brother or his disciple Josh Heupel and it's doubtful any other Power 5 conference would hire either of them.

And, David Boren nor Joe Castiglione aren't going to fire him either.

No, he will have to take a long hard look at his future and decide where he wants to be in five years.

Frankly, I don't see him coaching in Norman that long.

So why not go out on your own choosing instead of being run out of town by your record, attitude and nepotism?

At $5 million plus a year we don't have the luxury of waiting any longer to prove us wrong. And before you say I am being too harsh, we are not paying him Nick Saban money to go 9-3 every other year while making the same mistakes year after year!

We're appreciative of the results the first ten years. You resurrected a dire program looking for its' past success.

Unfortunately, the record the last five years shows a program on the decline that has been passed by the former Big 12 rug rats who are now laughing at the once mighty Sooner program.

We are now once again a program looking in the rear view mirror for its' past success.

I think a new approach from a new coach, or the old Bob Stoops, would be the best place to start. I just don't know where to find the old Bob Stoops. I think he has been kidnapped by arrogance, stubbornness and complacency.


The Oklahoma program is bigger than one coach.

Ask Bud who never resurrected his program after his former player turned nemesis in Austin and was run out of town with his three national championships in 1963.

Or Barry, who did resurrect his program and claim another run and national championship #3 and was still run out of town three years later.

Just don't ask Bob, with his one national championship claimed 15 lonely seasons ago.

He acts like he is untouchable, isn't listening and doesn't care.

Leaving the fans who have supported him asking:

Who are you?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Best Defense Ever?

As the 2014 season is one week away, expectations are high in the Sooner Nation.

Not just because of the after-swell of the Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama. Although that feeling has not worn off...yet.

No, there is something else in the air.

A confidence from the no-nonsense head coach that is unusually giddy for this time of the year.

A defensive coordinator who is spewing superlatives about his freshman players like never heard before in these parts.

Even with all of the off-the-field suspense involving suspensions, indictments and eligibility concerns, the Oklahoma coaches are downright besides themselves overflowing with confidence.

So what's the fuss?

Aren't all coaches optimistic in the pre-season?

Yes, but expectations are annually so high in Norman that the coaches intentionally downplay expectations until the season starts.

Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells used to say "you are what you are!" Namely, your record speaks for itself.

So before the season starts and everyone is undefeated, why are the Sooners coaches so optimistic?

Returning Starters

Namely, nine defensive starters return along with seven offensive starters. That's 16 starters from last years Big 12 runner ups and the Sugar Bowl champions.

Ok. Not bad. But don't a lot of schools return double digit starters?

Yes, but the depth of talent on this team behind the starters is incredible and they're young to boot.

Only 6 upper classmen return in the offensive skill positions--and two are tight ends and blocking backs. The entire offensive line that contributed over 100 game starts returns save Gabe Ikard and Bronson Irwin.

The Sugar Bowl MVP quarterback returns off of his all-time best game behind him.

A defense so deep Sugar Bowl hero Geneo Grissom is being moved to linebacker and nickel back Julian Wilson is being moved to corner. Defensive stars on the line, linebacker group and safeties aplenty.

The Big 12's #1 defense returns everyone except for safety Gabe Lynn and corner Aaron Colvin. Plus, newcomers Stephen Parker at safety, Jordan Thomas at corner and sophomore sensations Hatari Byrd and Ahmad Thomas will all push for starting time giving Mike Stoops a depth in the secondary he has never seen at Oklahoma.

So yes. This team has potential to be the best.

But what exactly does that mean?

At the University of Oklahoma that means defense.

The Top 5 Best Defenses

So let's take a look at the all-time best defenses in the history of Oklahoma football and see what the best means and where this group stacks up:


Bud Wilkinson's second and third national championship teams were a combined 21-0 in two seasons.

The 1955 squad outscored opponents 380-60 including five shutouts.

The 1956 team outscored opponents 466-51 including six shutouts.

These two teams are two of the best ever to play at Oklahoma and deserve top accolades. They kept the 47-game winning streak alive. The nation's best ever. They deserve the top notch.

Wide receiver Tommy McDonald still gets most of the buzz even all of these years later. But he also played defense along with one of the greatest Sooners ever: Jerry Tubbs.

These two teams epitomized Bud Wilkinson's team concept and the record reflects it.


Hard to separate the 1974 and 1975 back-to-back national championship teams but I'll take the '74 bunch over the 75' group.

Simply because of perfection: 11-0.

And three shutouts.

No game was close except a 16-13 win in Dallas over Texas.

Selmon brothers, Jimbo Elrod, Randy Hughes and 3-time All American Rod Shoate.

Part of the 73' group, Barry Switzer's first, that went 32-1-1 his first three seasons.

Take no prisoners.


The 85' group won the national championship with a single loss versus Miami but the 86' bunch was better.

Five shutouts along the way to an 11-1 season. A three-year lowest point total allowed with 81. The 85' and 87' teams gave up 103 and 102 points, respectively.

A lone loss in the Orange Bowl to Miami in September cost them the national championship.

Only Nebraska at 20-17 in Lincoln was close.

An overmatched Arkansas squad was beaten 41-8 in the Orange Bowl.

Brian Bosworth, Steve Bryan, Darrell Reed, Troy Johnson, Dante Jones, Sonny Brown and Rickey Dixon were the defensive stars.


This group was actually an extension of the 85', 86' and '87 bunch. A group that went 33-3.

11-0 regular season with two shutouts.

Only Missouri and Nebraska played it close.

A 20-14 defeat to a Miami team that beat them three years in a row to represent their only three losses cost them a seventh national championship.

A total of six defensive starters were drafted by the NFL including round one pick Rickey Dixon.


So you don't have to go undefeated or win a national championship to be considered among the top five Sooner defenses.

However, it helps. But doesn't necessarily mean greatness.

These five teams assembled a gaudy 54-2 record in those five seasons, won five Big 7 & 8 Championships along the way and won three national championships. A total of 23 All-Americans, 25 NFL Draftees, 7 national award winners and a nation's all-time best 47-game win streak.

A hallmark of each was a swarming, hit-you-in-the-mouth attitude. Superb team play, well-coached and well-positioned. Nothing flashy in any of them. Just good ole' hard-nosed, line up and hit you defense.

It helps when you have a once-in-a-lifetime talent anchoring the group: a Jerry Tubbs, Lee Roy Selmon or Rod Shoate. However, for every one of those guys, a Dante Jones, Paul Migliazzo, Brian Bosworth and Sonny Brown emerges.

Oklahoma has produced 14 undefeated seasons in its' 119 seasons of playing football. Four of those teams also won national championships.

I think 2014 has a very good chance of producing undefeated season #15 and national championship #8 primarily based upon the defensive outlook and potential.

At the end of the day, will they be ranked up there with these five? Check back on January 12.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Our Time Is Now!

The Big 12 unveiled a new logo last month shortly before their annual media days unfolded in Dallas.

And, once again the interesting moniker "One True Champion!" was marshaled throughout the hallways of the Omni Hotel in downtown Dallas.

Something that rankled Sooners Coach Bob Stoops a few years ago when unveiled to mark the beginning of round-robin play. Stoops remarked, "I thought we proved that on the field the past ten years."

The Sooner coach was rightfully miffed because his Sooners had just completed an unprecedented run of 7 Big 12 championships in 11 years during a period when a conference championship game was held to determine the true conference champion.

But regardless of a new logo or championing an old themeline, what was past is now prologue as the 2014 college football championship season begins August 30 culminating with a new 4-team tournament.

Because Bob Stoops Oklahoma Sooners are back in the mix of national championship discussions. And, the Sooner coach knows it doesn't matter whether it's a conference championship game or a round-robin format, his Sooners are poised to make an appearance in the first College Football Championship game.

Oh, and it's no coincidence that the inaugural championship game will be played a few miles west of the Omni Hotel in JerryWorld at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Sooners fans prefer to call it "Baja Oklahoma!"

And, in 2014, all roads to the first College Football Championship game go through Oklahoma.

A Season to Remember

Bob Stoops Sooners are still riding the momentum wave of throttling defending national champion Alabama 41-27 in the All State Sugar Bowl en route to finishing off an 11-2 season.

As they should be.

No one gave Oklahoma a chance to beat the Crimson Tide outside of the state of Oklahoma. In fact, an ESPN poll showed 80% of the nation picked Alabama to beat the Sooners.

So, who can blame Stoops and the Sooners from still reveling in their post season success in New Orleans?

No, Bob Stoops told his team they could beat Alabama and they did. Heck, he even began calling out the SEC in the spring of 2013 to anyone who would listen.

Now, he returns a bevy of starters and prime-time newcomers, including a top transfer, who are all focused on one thing: bringing national championship #8 to Norman.

Why There's Only One Oklahoma

Oklahoma returns 9 defensive starters, an offensive line boasting over 100 starting games, a rejuvenated Sugar Bowl record-breaking MVP quarterback and a favorable schedule.

Meaning? The skill position newcomers on offense will get time to jell behind a massive offensive line and returning superstar quarterback and because no one will move the ball on this Oklahoma defense in 2014.

But, the team that scores the most wins. So the Sooner offense will have to make the scoreboard light up if Oklahoma has a chance to sweep through a tougher-than-it-looks early schedule to be poised to win late at home.

Here's a look at the keys to victory:

The "D"

This is Mike Stoops third season back in Norman after his first stint at Oklahoma resulted in one National Championship and another BCS National Championship appearance in 2003.

It may have taken him two seasons to get his players and defense in place but boy is he stocked in 2014. And, after experimenting with a "30" man front in 2013, he now has the players attention as well as the rest of the college football world. Oklahoma is back.

And, only one word describes the potential of this Oklahoma defense: Shut-down!

Bob Stoops wouldn't go that far in Dallas in July. But he was close to saying it.

Up front, the Sooners return the entire defensive line that finished 2013 with four straight victories including a Bedlam win over OSU followed by the Alabama victory in New Orleans and were responsible for 33 sacks.

That unit also led the Big 12 in total defense, passing defense and was second in rushing defense and scoring defense.

That's a far cry from the school-record 376 yards per game Stoopses unit gave up in 2012.


The much-aligned defensive line last year at this time will be anchored by redshirt Sophomore Jordan Phillips at tackle. The 6' 6" 334 pound Phillips was an unstoppable force last year until a back injury suffered against Notre Dame ended his season with surgery.

Phillips is 100% and will anchor the tackle position this year. However, he will have a healthy rotation that includes Chuka Ndulue, Jordan Wade and Torrea Peterson all of whom replaced him last year.

Also, redshirt freshman Charles Walker has turned heads since last spring and into this summer. Plus, Juco transfer and 2012 NJCAA All-American Quincy Russell is also back after an unheralded 2013 where he only played in two of 13 games.

So, the defensive line is stacked at tackle with two-deep talent that will keep the starters fresh and opposing Big 12 quarterbacks scrambling for cover.

The Ends

How good are the defensive ends? Sugar Bowl hero Geneo Grissom was moved to linebacker this summer.

Replacing him will be All-Big 12 first teamer Charles Tapper and newcomer D.J. Ward.

Tapper started 12 of 13 games, was a force in 2013 and will anchor the ends. Ward sat out in 2013 after spleen surgery and hasn't played since his junior year in high school but is turning heads in practice. So much so, the coaches felt comfortable moving Grissom.

Joining them will be dependable returners Matt Dimon and Rashod Favors.

And, don't fret standout Michael Onuoha's recent suspension. In a pinch, the versatile Chuka Ndulue can switch back outside as can the recently moved Grissom.

The end result? Constant pressure and harassment of Big 12 quarterbacks.


It's hard to believe that just two years ago this defense experimented without any linebackers.

Once considered the short-coming, now it is one of the strengths only second to the defensive line.

Returners Frank Shannon and Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year and Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year Dominique Alexander return to anchor the linebacking unit. Alexander played in all 13 games and started the final 8 games. Shannon started all 13 games and led the Sooners with 92 tackles. Alexander had 80 tackles. And, returning sophomore Jordan Evans played in 8 games early and returns following a sensational season backing up both last year.

And, don't forget Sugar Bowl hero Eric Striker. The All-Big 12 First Team selection was sensational in 2013 coming off of the edge making spectacular, game-changing plays. If you loved the Sugar Bowl, you loved Strikers' performance: 3 sacks, matched a career high seven tackles and forced the first fumble of his career. And don't forget his Bedlam performance when he returned a fumble 3-yards for a touchdown.

Move Geneo Grissom back to this group and it is simply outstanding. Perhaps the best linebacking crew in Oklahoma in many years.

And, don't fret Shannon's pending Title IX investigation ruling him ineligible due to a school expulsion. Juco transfer Devonte Bond is turning heads in Norman and actually pushing Grissom for a starting spot.


This is both Stoopses brothers specialty so you would expect a solid unit here.

Losing Aaron Colvin and Gabe Lynn from last season might cause a concern of a drop off.

However, the cupboard isn't bare.

Returning starter Zack Sanchez returns and will anchor one sideline. Returners Cortez Johnson, Dakota Austin and Stanvon Taylor are batting with returning nickel back Julian Wilson for the second corner spot.

Austin and Taylor's size may be a concern but the much bigger Johnson, albeit a step slower in coverage, and the versatile Wilson add depth.

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Wilson secures the second spot in camp. After all, he was recruited to play corner out of high school. And, Stoops did bring him to Dallas for media days. But either way. The rest are solid backups and will see plenty of action.

Senior Quentin Hayes returns at strong safety. Joining him will be heralded sophomores Hatari Byrd and Ahmad Thomas who are both fighting for playing time at free safety. Thomas is versatile and can play either safety spot as well as at nickel. Byrd was highly touted coming out of high school and told the media last August Coach Stoops had told him he would start. He failed to live up to expectations but mainly because Gabe Lynn excelled at the safety spot last year. Byrd should get his chance this season to meet his incoming freshman boasts.

Freshman Stephen Parker from Jenks is also pushing for playing time at safety.

So, the secondary is loaded with plenty of talent and should be just fine.


The bottom line is this is as talented and deep a bunch as Mike Stoops has had to work with since his first stint in Norman.

And, make no question about it, the Sooners fully expect to compete for a national championship, the first since 2008. And if history is any indication, the Oklahoma defense will have to be elite to win it all in 2014. Past National Championship teams in 1955, 56', 74', '75, 85' and 2000 have been elite on defense.

And this Sooners team is already setting a goal to lead the nation in total defense something an Oklahoma team hasn't done since 1986. So they are talking the talk. But do they have "shut-down" potential?

Although expectations run high in Norman, brother Bob stopped short of using the "s" word this summer in Dallas, but he threw down the gauntlet to his team when he said this:

"We’ve got a chance,” Bob Stoops said. “But we’ve got to go earn it, perform, gotta do the preparation. Are guys gonna play intelligently and do what they need to do? So there’s potential there, but we haven’t done it yet."

And Now for The Offense

Bob Stoops has won eight Big 12 titles with six different quarterbacks.

He will win a ninth in 2014 with his seventh different quarterback.

Redshirt freshman Trevor Knight came of age in the Sugar Bowl with a record bowl game performance against Alabama.

His four touchdowns tied a Sugar Bowl record and set an OU record plus his 348 yards passing set a career high.

The off-season saw fellow starter Blake Bell switch to Tight End and fan favorite Kendal Thompson transfer to Utah.

So the job is solidly Knight's and only injury will move him out of the spot.

Behind him are redshirt freshman Cody Thomas and true freshman Justice Hansen so there is a cautious wind blowing in Norman that hopes Knight can stay healthy. Texas Tech walk-on transfer and Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year Baker Mayfield isn't currently eligible. However, he has hired the same attorney Johnny Manziel hired last year to argue immediate eligibility due to his walk-on status at Tech.

And, with an offense that only returns 6 upper classman at the skilled positions, the Sooners will need a solid year from Knight as well as his leadership if they hope to reach the first-ever National Championship game in Dallas.

So here is the offensive rundown:


The Sooners return eight players on the offensive line who have started over 109 games.

Seniors Daryl Williams and Tyrus Thompson anchor the tackle position with 40 starts between them.

Redshirt senior Tyler Evans returns for a sixth season with 29 starts at guard after receiving a medical hardship because of suffering back-to-back season ending knee injuries in 2012 and 2013.

Nila Kasitati and Adam Shead both return at guard with 12 starts each. Kasitati also doubles at center which is encouraging since a true freshman will serve as the primary backup.

Throw in Trevor Knight's Headington Hall roommate junior Ty Darlington at center, who is charged with replacing All-American Gabe Ikard, redshirt Juco transfer Josiah St. John and redshirt junior Derek Farniok, who made his first start against OSU, and this unit will be the difference maker in 2014.

Running Backs

After graduating seniors Brennan Clay, Damien Williams, Roy Finch and Trey Millard, one might think this unit would drop off in 2014.

However, Bob Stoops has assembled a stellar cast of replacements who are bigger, faster and stronger than last years unit.

At 5' 11" and 206 pounds, chiseled sophomore Keith Ford impressed everyone last year with his bull-like rushes and quickness on the way to a 5.8 average per carry. However, ball control issues limited his carries. Ford will anchor the running backs but will be tested for playing time with returning sophomore Alex Ross.

At 6' 1" and 221 pounds, Ross is bigger and stronger than Ford but didn't play much after an 8-yard run against Louisiana-Monroe resulted in punching a player on the Sooners sideline right in front of Coach Bob Stoops. He didn't help his case much by jawing with the Head Coach while walking off the field post-game in front of television cameras. Little surprise Ross only had two more carries and was limited to special teams action the remainder of 2013.

Sophomore David Smith and heralded freshman Samaje Perine could both make immediate contributions, as well.

Prototypical lead blocker Aaron Ripowski returns at fullback and will be joined by freshman Dimitri Flowers, a Trey Millard look-a-like who turned heads last spring.

We aren't even talking about the #1 running back in the nation freshman Joe Mixon from Oakley, California in the mix. His July 26 incident on Campus Corner in the wee hours of the morning have him suspended until Norman Police submit a report to the District Attorney, likely next week.

If he is charged with felony assault against a fellow student, consider his Sooner career over before it started. Anything less including a misdemeanor charge and he likely stays a Sooner but will most assuredly redshirt or face a lengthy suspension.

Either way, the Sooners are loaded at running back and should have enough productivity on the ground behind a massive, experienced and talented offensive line until the passing game jells with only one returning player who scored a touchdown in 2013.

Wide Receivers

Sterling Shepard is the only returning receiver with a touchdown catch in 2013. He also has 96 career receptions. The rest of the wide receivers have 21 career receptions. Junior Durron Neal is the only other returner with game experience.

But don't worry. The Sooners have a talented bunch for coach Jay Norvell to work with in 2014.

Redshirt freshman Jordan Smallwood has recovered from a foot injury and redshirt season. He has turned heads since the spring with his big frame at 6' 2" and 212 pounds and has the speed and athleticism to make Sooner fans forget Jalen Saunders and Lacoltan Bester.

Sophomore Derrick Woods and redshirt freshmen Dannon Cavil and K.J. Young also are expected to vie for playing time as is incoming freshman Michiah Quick from California.

But who is kidding who? The big off-season news was the arrival of Dorial Green-Beckham from Missouri in June. He was kicked off the team by Head Coach Gary Pinkel for off-the-field incidents that did not result in any formal charges by local police.

The Sooners are hoping to file an appeal with the NCAA later this month seeking an immediate eligibility clearance for the former top high school recruit. He had 59 receptions for 885 yards and 12 touchdowns last season for Missouri and was instrumental in the Cotton Bowl victory over OSU.

Oklahoma officials are optimistic DGB will be immediately eligible. If so, watch out. This Sooners offense just became explosive.

Tight Ends

Oklahoma hasn't made much more than blocking dummies out of the tight end position the past few years.

Since James Hanna left in 2011, the tight end position has basically vanished from the Oklahoma offense.

You can blame H-back Trey Millard for some of that because of his versatility blocking, running and catching the ball.

However, this year the big news is former quarterback Blake Bell's switch to tight end. At 6' 6" and 259 pounds, Bell brings prototypical size and speed to the position. Don't be surprised if Bell starts the season because Coach Stoops loves his leadership and work-ethic not to mention his nose for the end zone.

Regardless of Bell's move, incoming tight ends Tyler McNamara and Connor Knight, fraternal brother of quarterback Trevor, both have good size and hands and Juco transfer Isaac Ijalana has also turned heads. Also, Dimitri Flowers has the size and speed to take some snaps at tight end, as well.

So, look for a new wrinkle with Bell emerging as a favorite target of Trevor Knight to keep defenses honest. Also, look for a tight end reverse play-action pass also thrown in for good measure.


A deep, experienced and talented offensive line will go a long way to giving Trevor Knight time to jell with a new receiver corps while the young running backs learn their ways in big-time college football.

Knight's health is a major issue based upon his performance in 2013. However, both Cody Thomas and Justice Hansen appear talented enough to make adequate backups, if necessary. This issue becomes moot if Baker Mayfield succeeds in gaining immediate eligibility if cleared by the NCAA.

This unit has a chance to be very special. However, add Dorial Green-Beckham and Joe Mixon to this group and watch out.

Special Teams

Special Teams have been a hallmark of Head Coach Bob Stoops teams especially because he has personally overseen the unit many years under his tutelage. However, he hired his first Special Teams Coordinator last year in Jay Boulware, who did an outstanding job with three special teams touchdowns in 2013.

Returning kicker Senior Michael Hunnicutt returns and is on virtually all watch lists as one of the top kickers in the country. He hit 88.9% of his field goals in 2013 and also caught a touchdown pass from holder Grant Bothun in last years Bedlam victory.

Senior Jed Barnett returns at punter where he booted 65 punts for a 47.1 average in 2013.

Senior Nick Hodgson boomed 43 kickoffs for touchbacks last year and set a career high with a 65.7 kickoff average  in the Sugar Bowl and returns.

Key return men Brennan Clay and Ray Finch anchored the return game the past few years but have graduated so Bob Stoops will look for a new look to set-up the Sooners offense with good field position where they were 4th in the Big 12 last year with a 25.6 yard return average. Expect two of the freshman running backs to make an immediate impact in this area but don't be surprised if projected starters Keith Ford and Alex Ross open up on August 30. Stoops has a stubborn history of utilizing his starters on special teams.

The only weakness in this bunch is the loss of starter Austin Woods to graduation. Finding a deep snapper who can jell with the existing unit will help ease this loss.

So What Does It Mean?

With 9 returning starters on defense, a solid and deep offensive line, Sugar Bowl MVP quarterback Trevor Knight returning and a whole host of talented newcomers, Bob Stoops has reason to be bullish on this team.

However, as we have seen in previous seasons, injuries, suspensions and expulsions have doomed the Sooners. Career-ending injuries to seniors Corey Nelson and Trey Millard stained an otherwise stellar season in 2013 and combined with untimely injuries to center Gabe Ikard, receiver Sterling Shepard and quarterbacks Blake Bell and Trevor Knight, some would say cost the Sooners an undefeated season.

But you can't count on injuries and the off-the-field stuff to continue to haunt Oklahoma.

The Sooners have finished #1 in the Big 12 in 3 of the past 5 years and have 8 overall championships, 5 more than the next closest team. And, they have been ranked #1 in the nation in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and 101 times since the AP began keeping track in 1936--more than any other team.

Bob Stoops has been close but never this talented and deep since his championship run in 2008. And, his Sooners have played in four National Championship games the past 14 seasons.

If his players stay healthy and eligible, this will be his fifth appearance in the National Championship game and second title.

The Sooners have had 14 undefeated seasons including four National Championship seasons in 1955, 1956, 1974 and 2000.

I have a sense they will add season number 15 in 2014.

Prediction: 13-0. Big 12 Champions. National Champions.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mistake On The Lake!

I lived in Cleveland for almost 2 years during two different stints between 1990 and 1996. So I bring a somewhat different appreciation for Cleveland than most Oklahomans.

And, that fact is especially relevant with Coach Stoops' "you never know" quote post-Sugar Bowl, which had everyone on edge about his NFL coaching aspirations. This situation was further compounded by the rumor of his interest in the Browns open job and combined with his nearby Youngstown, Ohio roots sent the Sooner Nation into panic-mode.

However, rest assured Sooner Nation. I still have contacts in Cleveland and my sources there tell me the Browns organization is just as dysfunctional as they were when I left in 1996 (well, maybe not so bad as they didn't have a team in 1996!)

The team owner is embroiled in a federal rebate fraud investigation with his "real" company, they have a non-football guy who was run out of Philadelphia in charge of football operations and they can't draft worth a damn! So the distractions there are real and not imagined.

So without further adieu, here is my list of the top 5 things Coach Stoops won't miss about Cleveland.

1. Weather

Ok, I realize Oklahoma is experiencing an unseasonable severe winter chill for this time of the year that is making many very uncomfortable with the record low temperatures.

Welcome to Cleveland Coach Stoops!

This type of weather is exactly what you get on a daily basis with winters in Cleveland.

I know firsthand because I lived in ground-zero: downtown Cleveland.

Cleveland is located at the northern end of Ohio right up against one of the Great Lakes: Lake Erie.

As such, Cleveland is the last city before you get to Canada.

Affectionately, known as the "North Coast," northeastern Ohioans know full-well what that location means: arctic Canadian-winter winds sweep down across Lake Erie and bring almost a daily event onto the streets of downtown Cleveland called "lake-effect snow."

And, Cleveland being a pretty much non-public transportation city, except for inner-city RTA lines and busses, means most Clevelanders travel by private car which results in a lot of walking.

Heavy top coats, hats, gloves and galoshes are standard attire from basically November to early April. Leave home without one of these essential elements at your own risk.

Also, since Ohio is located in the middle of the snow-belt, transportation officials are deftly prepared to maintain and clear area highways and roads.

This means much ice and sand strategically placed on roadways which ends up on your vehicles and creates a mess of your shiny new car not to say the potential rust erosion later that diminishes its life cycle.

Yes folks, Cleveland is cold. Just how cold you might ask?

I attended opening day of the Major League Baseball season in 1991 at venerable Municipal Stadium on April 16, 1991 and it snowed!

2. On A Clear Day You Can See Canada

I lived on the 19th floor of the Reserve Square building at the eastern edge of downtown at 12th and Superior and just a few blocks from the lake.

Actually, although not built during my first stay, Reserve Square is just a handful of blocks from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The 19th floor of any building is high enough to give one a spectacular overview of any area.

Here's the view from my 19th floor apartment overlooking Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport and beautiful Lake Erie.

See what I mean? Coach Stoops won't miss this view will he?

3. Gretchen Carlson

Ok, I know Gretchen Carlson is no longer in Cleveland.

Actually, Gretchen is from Minnesota and represented that state as the Miss America winner in 1989.

But hey, in the early 90's she was the hottest thing on local television!

No Coach Stoops won't miss Gretchen by not moving to Cleveland but he can still catch her daily on Fox News!

4. Cleveland Crack

No this is not the local "crack-house" located in east Cleveland.

Actually, this is a universal sighting all over the North Coast.

I think a picture says a thousand words but I'll let your imagination do the work for you!

5. Oklahoma Is OK!

And finally, Coach Stoops won't miss being constantly asked where in the hell Oklahoma is located?

For many Ohioans, Oklahoma might as well be located in Timbuktu!

Most Clevelanders and many Ohioans have lived in the Buckeye state all of their lives.

And that is not a bad thing as the area and state have much to offer.

However, most don't know and don't care where Oklahoma is but do know it isn't in Ohio and they could care less.

So Coach Stoops won't get inundated with the inquisitive minds every time he meets a stranger who asks him: "where?"


So in the final analysis, I don't think Coach Stoops ever really seriously considered the Browns job or the prospect of moving to Cleveland from Norman.

And, certainly my tongue-in-cheek list doesn't even begin to capture all of the great things association with the North Coast namely:

1. More golf courses per capita than any other location in the U.S. (yes you can play golf in the summer!)

2. Fabulous restaurants.

3. A vibrant, thriving downtown arts district.

4. Breathtaking summer sunsets over Lake Erie.

5. Three really great professional sports brands in the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers all located in the heart of downtown Cleveland featuring some of the most loyal and long-suffering fans in the world.

I hope my personal experience does provide some sort of humor associated with the only American city that I know of where the downtown river and the mayor's hair once caught on fire and a city I was fortunate to once call home twice! (true!)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Sweet Home Alabama!

One of my favorite writers is Jay Cronley who is a columnist for my hometown paper, the Tulsa World.

Recently, Jay wrote a column about a stranger he met who responded "I am a columnist" when asked what she did for a living.

Cronley went on to summarize in his column that everyone was a "columnist" in today's wired world.

Cronley said that to qualify as a "columnist" one must have a story to tell that is based upon an experience, idea or opinion.

So with access to the internet, in Cronley's world, everyone with an idea, experience or opinion is a "columnist!"

So with that said, here is my "columnist" story for the 2014 Sugar Bowl.

Sugar Bowl Redux

Admittedly, I am a a bit more qualified for Cronleys' "Columnist" description. I do have an official Journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and was a staff writer for my college newspaper, The Baker Orange, my freshman year in college.

I even have a certificate for my coverage of President Reagan's assassination attempt in 1981 to prove my bona fide credentials!

So, here is my story based upon my "experience, idea and opinion!"

In 2004, I was one of the over 72,000 fans in the Louisiana Super Dome when Bob Stoops' Oklahoma Sooners faced Nick Sabans' LSU tigers for the BCS National Championship.

I witnessed a stellar LSU defensive effort throttle one of the "best" teams in NCAA history as Sports Illustrated claimed as Stoops' Sooners lost to Saban's Tigers 21-14.

This was a classic "heavyweight" match between two excellent, well-coached teams.

But it wasn't what happened on the field as much as what I witnessed off the field that caught my attention.

Late in the first half of a 14-7 game, my binoculars caught some activity behind the Oklahoma bench that caught my eye.

A nattily attired man in a navy blazer and slacks was attempting to persuade a Super Dome usher to allow him access to the Oklahoma bench.

After a few minutes of standoff, the man gained access to the field, immediately proceeded to the huddle during an Oklahoma timeout, removed the headset of an Oklahoma assistant, pushed defensive coordinator Brent Venables aside and began screaming at the Oklahoma defensive players!


A closer look revealed the man in a hurry was Mike Stoops, younger brother of Big Game Bob and the recently named head coach of the University of Arizona!

It seems that the younger Stoops had seen enough and was anxious to help his big brother Bob!

Perhaps he knew that his big brother was outmanned.

Nick Saban had a young offensive coordinator named Jimbo Fisher and a Saban-clone defensive coordinator named Will Muschamp calling the shots.

Big Game Bob was outnumbered off the field and his Sooners succumbed to a stronger LSU defense on the field despite some peculiar play calls on the final drive.

Fast-Forward to 2014

So after a bizarre finish to the Auburn game and a miraculous finish to the OSU game, Big Game Bob and Nick Saban find themselves in a similar rematch in 2014!

Except this time, Stoops might just have the mismatch on the sidelines to Saban's #3 ranked Crimson Tide!
You see not only does Big Game Bob have little brother Mike on his sidelines this time but he also has two other secret weapons to use against Nick Saban!

In 2009, Bob Stoops and his staff spent a week visiting Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban's Crimson Tide as they prepared for their BCS National Championship game against Texas.

This act did not sit well with the Sooners arch rival in Austin.

Many Longhorns thought that Stoops was telling state secrets against Texas to Saban to sabotage a potential Longhorn upset in the Rose Bowl.

But Stoops maintained that was the furthest thing from his mind. He was only visiting Alabama to learn more about the Crimson Tide 3-man front and downfield rushing game.

But this was not the only thing Stoops stole from Nick Saban.

Later, Stoops would hire Alabama's quality control guru Chad Walker away from Saban.

Walker has been instrumental in not only installing the Bama 3-4 defense but also allowing the Stoops brothers to peek inside the Saban-led Crimson Tide and steal the "secret sauce" to Bama's success.

According to the Daily Oklahoman this week, Mike Stoops credits Walker with not so much as just installing the Bama 3-4 defense but "we had a lot of information" on the Alabama personnel, coaches and tendencies.

So much so that Stoops said that the Alabama coaches would "recognize a lot of stuff that's going on when we play."

A Game Changer?

So will the Stoops brothers advantage help Big Game Bob against Nick Saban?

Perhaps Walker's presence just reaffirms what the Stoops brothers already know about Alabama: the Crimson Tide is a well-oiled machine, angry over their last second loss to arch-rival Auburn and will be chomping at the bit to crush Bob Stoops Sooners.

Or, perhaps the Stoops brothers have another secret weapon up their sleeve?

You see, mama Stoops has a younger son named Mark who is the head coach of the University of Kentucky who lost to Alabama 48-7 this year.

Do you think that big brother Bob has talked to kid brother Mark about his thoughts on how to stop Nick Saban's Crimson Tide?

Of course, they have talked. That is what brothers do. And, what about Stoops mentor at South Carolina? Don't you think Big Game Bob has talked to his mentor Steve Spurrier on how to stop Bama's vaunted attack?


Yes, on paper this game is a mismatch for the Stoops brothers.

Alabama should just line up and run roughshod over the faster, smaller Sooners.

But a funny thing this game football is.

These are college-age kids 18, 19, 20 and 21 years old.

Emotion and coaching play big factors on motivation for these younger players.

The team that is the best on paper does not always win.

And, when there is a sibling rivalry involved and inside information from the enemy in play, anything is possible.

For the Sooner Nation and the Stoops brothers of Youngstown, here's hoping the Oklahoma Sooners finally have Nick Sabans' number!

Boomer Sooner!