Oklahoma hit the Bob Stoops equivalent of a nadir this bowl season, falling 40-6 to Clemson to finish 8-5. That would be the Clemson with the nation’s No. 1 defense, coordinated by Brent Venables, the coordinator Stoops basically forced out after 2011. Not surprisingly in the aftermath, things are getting real in Norman.
Stoops has canned co-offensive coordinators Jay Norvell and Josh Heupel (which may just be the start). The latter won a national title for Stoops as a QB, has spent all 11 years of his coaching career under a Stoops brother and is married to a relative of Oklahoma’s president.
Oklahoma has had good offenses under Heupel. They have finished as high as 4th in Offensive FEI. The worst finish since 2010 has been 23rd. But, that’s sort of like saying Oklahoma has had “good” seasons the past few years under Stoops. Technically, yeah.
Let’s look at quarterback development. Oklahoma is supposed to be running an Air Raid. Landry Jones had a promising first season, and never improved. Neither Blake Bell nor Trevor Knight has been as good as Landry Jones. The Sooners have not had a QB rank in the Top 25 in yards/attempt since Sam Bradford in 2008.
This season was defined by turnovers. Oklahoma can’t blame every loss on them. But, interceptions returned for touchdowns cost the Sooners against TCU (37-33) and Kansas State (31-30).
That said, one could point to special teams, with missed field goals and the punt return TD allowed at the end of the Bedlam game. One could also point to Mike Stoops’ defense, which ranked 49th nationally in Defensive FEI. Oklahoma lost three games in which the offense produced 30-plus points.
Ultimately, if everything is a little bit off, you have to point the finger at the man overseeing all of it. Bob Stoops will tie Bud Wilkinson for most seasons at Oklahoma, 17, in the modern era. He still has more than a few years left at 54. But, things have clearly grown stagnant. This late game staff overhaul has more than a whiff of Mack Brown to it. Hopefully, the inexplicable weight gain and glassy stare aren’t imminent.
Stoops got where he is by being a fiery competitor. Unfortunately, that’s the same quality that will keep him at Oklahoma, battling to make things right rather than taking a year off to regroup and start fresh somewhere else. He has hit home runs with staff hires before. If he doesn’t this time, things could get ugly.
[Photo via USAT]