OU's Stoops remains confident, poised despite adversity
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Saturday, December 22, 2012
12/22/12 at 4:13 AM
NORMAN - Bob Stoops has been a confident football coach since the first day he stepped onto Oklahoma's campus.
Josh Heupel was the Sooners' quarterback in 1999, Stoops' debut season. Now OU's co-offensive coordinator, Heupel sees the same demeanor 14 years later.
"He had a vision," Heupel said. "He brought people in that could implement it and go about it every day and he's been able to sell that plan to his players too. He's extremely confident and poised. He never wavered with the ups and downs that inevitably happen, especially in your first year. He never wavered."
Stoops is looking to join Barry Switzer (1978-81) as Oklahoma's only coaches to win bowl games in four consecutive seasons. Oklahoma will play Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 4.
The Sooners are coming off their eighth Big 12 Conference championship. Only Boise State (nine league titles) has won more since 2000.
This year may have been one of Stoops' most impressive coaching jobs. Before fall camp started, there were questions about the wide receiver position, who would carry the load at running back and how to fix an offensive line that lost two starters. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops also inserted a new scheme.
Heupel said Bob Stoops stayed poised when faced with adversity.
"He was just methodical in his approach," Heupel said. "He was never too high or never too low. He knows there are going to be ups and down within your program and on the field. He's just very business-like and very steady."
The second question mark came in late September. Oklahoma had a lackluster performance against UTEP and suffered a rare conference home loss to Kansas State. Would this team even reach the eight-win mark? It seemed most fans were hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.
Stoops never subscribed to that plan.
"Everyone is going to have their opinions," Mike Stoops said. "Bob has never been one to really get caught up in that. He tries to do the best he can to prepare our players and prepare our players to be men and leaders in the community.
"That's really all you can do as the head coach of a program like this."
Following the K-State loss, the Sooners won eight of their final nine games. The only hiccup was a home loss to Notre Dame, which is playing for the BCS national championship next month.
The head coach was impressed with his team's conference finish, which included eight consecutive victories.
"They did show a lot of fight, grit and resiliency to fight through the whole season the way they did, and to keep winning the way they did," Bob Stoops said.
Stoops was never down on the team. Instead of breaking them down, he instilled confidence.
"That's safe to say," offensive lineman Bronson Irwin said. "That's the case across the board here. Coaches, players, everyone has confidence in each other and that's just developed through going through off-seasons together and spring ball and two-a-day camps."
Stoops does relate with his players in a way that isn't seen by fans and the media, Kenny Stills said.
"He's an older cat so his jokes are a little outdated so we laugh at him and laugh with him ... we always have a good time with him when the time is right," Stills said.
There always will be talk about Stoops needing to win another national championship. It's a fair discussion since a dozen seasons have passed since OU captured the 2000 crown.
Stoops has coached Oklahoma to its 11th 10-win season in 14 years. The eight Big 12 championships won is twice as many as any other league school. This year, he vaulted to second on OU's all-time coaching list, passing legendary coach Bud Wilkinson. He is eight victories behind Switzer, who won 157 games between 1973-88.
"Bob has a unique way of keeping things in perspective," Mike Stoops said. "That shows the maturity and the leadership. He understands what it takes to win and win consistently. It's hard to do. He's always been very positive with this program and it's not easy. The landscape has changed over the last 10 years. Football has changed a great deal. This league has gotten more competitive and more balanced from top to bottom.
"Again, he's stood in there for 14 years and won eight championships. The record kind of speaks for itself."
CONFERENCE TITLES SINCE 2000
Oklahoma has won eight conference championships since 2000, which is the second-most during that span.
A look at the most conference titles, by conference, since 2000:
ACC: Florida State, 5
Big 12: Oklahoma, 8
Big East: *West Virginia, 6
Big Ten: Ohio State, 6
Conference USA: *Louisville, 3
MAC: *Marshall, 5
Mountain West: *TCU, 4
Pac 10/12: USC, 7
SEC: LSU, 4
Sun Belt: Troy, 5
WAC: *Boise State, 8
*Boise State (Mountain West), Louisville (Big East), Marshall (C-USA), TCU (Big 12) and West Virginia (Big 12) are currently members of new leagues.
Note: Boise State won a ninth league title overall in 2012, sharing the Mountain West crown.
OU (10-2) vs. Texas A&M (10-2)
7 p.m. Jan. 4
Radio: KMOD fm97.5, KTBZ am1430
Original Print Headline: Stoops hasn't lost his touch
Eric Bailey 918-581-8391
OU head coach Bob Stoops waits for a penalty call in the first half of their game against Notre Dame in Norman. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World