The team in crimson started the season No. 1, took that ranking into October, suffered a stunning loss, eventually lost two more games, including an epic collapse against its archrival, which was having a historic season. Then the Crimsons won a bowl game to finish 10-3.
Not Oklahoma 2011. Alabama 2010.
The Crimson Tide, preparing for a Big Bowl showdown with LSU, had much the same season a year ago as the Sooners are having now. Which is one more reason why Bob Stoops says it's not panic time.
“To act like it's totally bleak, I don't think that's being fair,” Stoops said a few days after OSU administered a 44-10 Bedlam blowout. “Everything's overly dramatic.
“The bottom line for me, the roof hasn't fallen in by a long shot. But I'm very aware it's not my expectations, either. I want to be champion.”
The Sooners won the Big 12 a year ago, but they've lost to five fellow conference schools in the last two seasons, and none of them Texas.
OSU, Baylor, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Missouri.
Bedlam was the worst, and not because it crowned the Cowboys kings.
Bedlam 2011 was like the USC Orange Bowl. A total blowout. This de facto Big 12 title game looked like those championship games matching OU and Texas against Colorado in 2004-05. One-sided and over early.
Which absolutely raises questions about what's going on in Norman. Yes, there were injuries; who knew Jamell Fleming's or Ryan Broyles' real value until they went down? Yes, there were bad breaks, like the ricochet at Baylor that wiped out OU's last lead.
But still, something seems amiss. The Sooners seem in a funk. They played fantastic in some big games — Florida State, Texas, Kansas State, Texas A&M — and poorly in others.
Stoops declined comment on any possible staff changes — “That isn't something I'd ever discuss whatsoever,” Stoops said — but I've got three suggestions for Stoops independent of hirings and firings.
1. Get more involved with the offensive staff.
I know everyone is fixated on defense. But the offense was the biggest problem in Bedlam. And Stoops' postgame comments were most telling, when he admitted he didn't understand why the Sooners didn't run the ball more at game's outset.
“I'm not the play-caller,” Stoops said this week. “It's hard to interrupt a play-caller. In the end, I felt, yeah, we should have had more opportunity to run the football.”
Seems strange that Stoops wouldn't know what Josh Heupel had planned for the first quarter. I know Stoops spends a lot of time with the defensive staff, since he helps coach the secondary, but shouldn't the head coach be aware that his offensive coordinator plans to basically ignore the run?
“I'm in and out of meetings, more with the defense,” Stoops said. “I've always watched the offensive tape. There's always points to make, if there's something I like or don't like.”
Make the points more emphatically.
2. Put the special back in the special teams.
OU's kicking game has been mediocre at best for several years. Michael Hunnicut appears to have emerged as a solid kicker, but the return and coverage units have not been up to the Sooner standards of the early 2000s.
I don't see the commitment to the kicking game I saw early in Stoops' tenure, when Jonathan Hayes was OU's special teams coordinator.
Stoops had a chance to possibly change that last offseason, when he had a staff opening. Instead, Stoops hired old pal Bruce Kittle, who had virtually no coaching experience.
I don't know if Kittle can coach a lick, but he seems like a sharp guy. So put him on the case. Send Kittle on a national tour, hitting every hot special teams locale. College, pro, doesn't matter.
Special-teams gurus are mostly self-made. I don't think anyone in particular taught OSU's Joe DeForest all his many tricks.
Kittle can learn. Frankly, this might be more important than anything Stoops does with the offense or defense.
3. Change the attitude.
Over the years, this has received a variety of labels. Entitlement. Soft. Overconfident. Whatever.
I don't know how to get my arms around it, and neither does anyone else, including maybe Stoops. But he's got to try, because the Sooners have shown multiple signs of being gooberheads.
From Twitter, where Kenny Stills ripped OSU's Justin Blackmon in the summer and where Tony Jefferson this week whined about not making all-Big 12 a couple of days after losing 44-10 in the conference title game; to suspensions, which sidelined difference-makers like Stills, Jaz Reynolds and Ronnell Lewis at various points during the season; to academics.
Lewis and Jamell Fleming both were eligible this year by the hair of their chinny chin chin. You didn't like this OU defense? Picture it all season without those two.
I don't know what happened to the karma. I don't know if it's a lack of leadership in the locker room, I don't know if it's a lack of discipline by the coaches, I don't know if Jerry Schmidt's offseason program has worn thin on players.
But something isn't right.
Stoops admitted the attitude, for lack of a better word, “needs to be better. It's fair to say that's part of it. Through the year, we've had more suspensions than we've ever had to have.
“I still feel there's some areas we have to push ourselves.”
Stoops is in an interesting spot. Both acknowledging problems but also mindful of recent success. Under Stoops, OU still has never gone longer than one season without winning the Big 12.
“To think we're going to go undefeated and win a BCS game every year, it's just not being reasonable,” Stoops said.
“We're a year removed from the Big 12 championship, beating every one of our rivals. We're 9-3, chance to be 10-3. Is that good enough for us? No.”
It's no time to panic. But it is time to tinker. Time to tinker and time for the head coach to get more involved, from the locker room to the meeting room.
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.