NORMAN — Many are the reasons victory over Texas is sweet for all Sooners. Players, coaches, fans, shopkeepers, tax collectors, doesn't matter.
Championship implications. Disgusted by low-energy cows. State pride. Revolted by burnt orange. A more joyous walk through the State Fair midway.
To that list, add another. Bob Stoops' peace of mind.
Losing the OU-Texas game is not conducive to a coach's mental health. Or for some, his job security, though Stoops and Mack Brown aren't in that club.
Stoops and Brown are made men, having restored tradition-rich programs to splendor. In zero danger of being asked to leave.
Any hot seat they're on is self-warmed.
But warm it still gets. Brown lost five straight to the Sooners, 2000-04, and a cloud hung over Texas football. Now Stoops has lost four of five to the Longhorns, and questions creep about OU's ability to regain the reins of this streaky series.
The ancient foes meet Saturday in the ancient Cotton Bowl, and even before UCLA jack-hammered the Longhorns three days ago, word out of Austin was that you'd better get the 'Horns this season. With all its young talent, Texas is primed for dominance in the future.
Of course, the same could be said for the bruised but unbowed Sooners, who seem to be adding freshmen studs to the rotation on a weekly basis.
But either way, this OU-Texas game stands as pivotal for more than just a championship test for the Sooners and self-preservation for the 'Horns.
This game either ends or extends what is fast becoming a historic Texas slump for Stoops.
Lose this game, and Stoops goes to 1-5 in his last six Bevo bashes.
Here are the OU coaches who have had such a drought against Texas: Gary Gibbs 1-5 (1989-94), Bud Wilkinson 0-6 (1958-63) and Snorter Luster 0-5 (1941-45).
Gibbs and Luster were fired; Wilkinson resigned his throne.
This rivalry can zap coaches on the Texas side, too. Ed Price, too, went 1-5 (1951-56) and didn't get the chance to go 1-6.
After dominating Wilkinson, Darrell Royal got dominated by Barry Switzer, losing five straight, then settled for a 6-6 tie and retired.
No way Stoops goes the trail of Gibbs or Luster. But Stoops could go the way of Wilkinson or Royal; could get tired of losing to Texas, just as Brown wearied of losing to the Sooners before Vince Young rode to the rescue.
We always thought that if OU lost Stoops, it would be to the NFL or the University of Florida or to some desire to play golf for more than a few days in summer.
But now, Longhorn fatigue seems the most likely culprit to shoo away Stoops from the Switzer Center.
If anything could make him lose interest in his admittedly fantastic job, it would be an annual beat down from the Longhorns.
Stoops would not admit to such even under threat of the heretics fork.
And Stoops still has his trusty comeback of Big 12 championships; three in the last four years, two of them despite losses in the Cotton Bowl.
Stoops admits this is a big game, a majestic rivalry. Admits the Cotton Bowl tunnel gets his blood pumping.
But Stoops won't bite on the enormity of any particular outcome. Says losing to Texas feels no worse than losing to Texas Tech (he's done it four times) or OSU and Colorado (twice each).
"That doesn't feel good either," Stoops said.
Stoops says he spends no time thinking about his legacy. Which I don't really believe, because everybody does, to some degree.
"We wanted to build on the tradition that was here before," Stoops said of his goal when hired a dozen years ago. "We've done that. We're not done, hopefully."
Stoops acts and talks like a guy who is going to be a long-timer. Going to surpass Switzer's 16 years as OU's coach and Wilkinson's 17 and maybe even approach Bennie Owen's 22.
But the Oklahoma job is a lot more enjoyable when you beat Texas. I recommend it Saturday.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.