NORMAN — Bob Stoops lifted himself out of a chair in the Big Red Room the other day, a little more slowly than in perhaps his first OU season, because 47-year-old joints don't spring like 38-year-old joints.
As an informal press chat died off, Stoops asked with that still-distinct Ohio accent, "Is that it? Okie dokey.”
Turns out, that was not it. Hey, Bob. Did you say "Okie dokey” when you first arrived in Oklahoma?
Stoops came as close to laughing as you'll ever see.
"No,” he said. "That might be the first time.”
Stoops, beginning his 10th season as the Sooner football coach, has been here long enough to do more than pick up Jackie Shipp's vernacular.
Ten years on the job, with the program humming along with the elite of college football, has Stoops poised to join the holy of holies. He now belongs with the likes of Barry Switzer and Bud Wilkinson in OU lore.
"For level of consistency, I would think he would be right there with them,” said OU athletic director Joe Castiglione.
Wilkinson coached 17 years at OU, Switzer 16. Each won three national championships.
"I think he has a chance to have a career that has those kinds of statistics,” Castiglione said. "I know it's going to be characterized as one of the best in Oklahoma history. That's already been achieved. Just a matter of how much stronger it can be.”
Stoops reaching 10 seasons lifts him onto a new plateau.
Longevity, especially in this high-pressure era, is a hallmark of excellence. OU can churn through football coaches with the best of schools.
The Sooners have employed 11 head coaches since World War II ended and college football turned a tad more serious; discounting Switzer, Wilkinson and Stoops, the average tenure has been 2.6 years.
OU requires huge success from its football coaches.
Where else could a guy coach six years, finish No. 2 in the nation in three of those seasons, and not be remembered as one of its all-time greats? But that's exactly Chuck Fairbanks' legacy.