Oklahoma football might have resurrected a defensive savior by hiring Mike Stoops.
We'll know for sure next fall.
But we don't have to wait to know one thing about the Sooners' new defensive coordinator — he's a crazy man on the sideline.
Those wild gesticulations you remember from his earlier days in Norman? The arm waving? The foot stomping? The curl-your-hair, hide-your-children screaming?
None of it's changed.
Those years wandering in the desert did nothing to mellow Brother Mike.
For some members of the Sooner Nation, this is good news. For others? Not so much. But here's the reality Sooner fans: Stoops is bound to do things on the sideline next fall that will draw attention. Cameras will be trained on him. Pundits will be focused on him.
Like it or not, the scrutiny is going to be there.
If I'm Bob Stoops, I tell little brother that he needs to cool it.
Now, don't misunderstand — Bob has just as much fire in his belly as Mike does. These two are cut from the same blue-collar, hard-nosed cloth. They want to win and want it badly.
Bob has learned how to control the emotions that come with that competitive drive.
Mike has not.
Bob admitted a while back it took him a decade or so as a head coach to completely bring his emotions in check. Mike was the coach at Arizona a little less than eight years, so maybe there's still a chance he can rein it in.
I would think he would want to do that. After all, his sideline antics were part of what got him fired at Arizona.
Some of the Wildcat faithful loved the fire. The veins popping out of his neck. The color rising from his neck to his cheeks to his forehead. The words that Mama Stoops didn't teach him spewing out of his mouth.
Other administrators, boosters and fans thought it was embarrassing.
Count Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne among the latter. He wasn't in Tucson during Stoops' first five seasons — former athletic director Jim Livengood basically let Stoops' behavior go unchecked and unchanged — but when Byrne took over in 2010, reports are that he quickly told Stoops to tone down his sideline demeanor.
It became a conversation they had many times.
The message never stuck.
Of course, if Arizona had regularly contended for a conference title and occasionally gone to the Rose Bowl, Mike Stoops would still be coaching in Tucson. Winning is paramount in coaching, and because of what Stoops had done for the Wildcats — leading a downtrodden program to a school-record three consecutive bowl appearances — he might've kept his job even through this train wreck of a season.
By all accounts, Stoops represented Arizona well in every other way. Great in press conferences. Solid in alumni relations. Amenable in so many ways. But his sideline shtick always stuck out. It was the thing that everyone saw.
In the OU release announcing his return to Norman, Mike reflected on his Tucson tenure.
“You grow and mature as a person, and I believe my experience at Arizona has helped me become a better coach,” Stoops said. “We had to fight through a lot to accomplish several good things, and I grew a lot through that process.”
Read between the lines what you will, but there's at least some reason to believe this was an attempt to address his sideline demeanor. Maybe he believes that he has gotten better. Maybe he believes that he is no longer the referee-chewing, player-cussing madman that he used to be. And maybe he's right.
Thing is, there's plenty of YouTube evidence from this past season that proves otherwise.
Listen, I'm not saying that Mike Stoops has to stand there like a Bill Belichick statue on Saturdays. (Like that would happen.) Football is an emotional sport. Success should be celebrated. Mistakes should be corrected. All of that is part of the game.
Goodness knows, there are plenty of OU assistants who aren't shy about letting their feelings show on the sidelines.
But Brother Mike is sure to draw a different level of scrutiny. He's the former head coach who's come back to Norman to repair his reputation and this Sooner defense. He's the one who's supposed to raise the program back to championship heights.
The college football world is going to be watching.
What do Stoops and the Sooners want it to see?