NORMAN — In December 1999, Oklahoma's players were upset to see Mike Leach — another one of their coaches — leaving Norman.
Bob Stoops, who'd just finished his first season as the Sooners' head coach, explained to the disappointed Sooners, though, that Leach becoming Texas Tech's head coach was a good thing.
“Leach got the job after eight months, and all the guys didn't know how to feel about it,” Stoops said. “They were so used to losing coaches because they lost, they thought it was a bad thing.
“I said, ‘No, this is a good thing. We did so well they want to hire one of our guys. Get used to that.'”
Leach was the first of several Stoops offensive coordinators who was hired to lead his own program, and the trend appears likely to continue with Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell. OU's co-offensive coordinators both say they aspire to be head coaches someday.
Heupel, who in 1999 had just finished his first regular season as Oklahoma's quarterback, was reportedly a candidate for Louisiana Tech's head-coaching position earlier this month.
He declined to discuss any specifics regarding his future, but did say Louisiana Tech has “a great administration.”
“At some point I'd like to be a head coach,” Heupel said. “That's a goal of mine. Obviously I'm extremely happy and excited to be a part of this program and the direction we're headed.”
Louisiana Tech hired Skip Holtz, so Heupel appears settled at Oklahoma for now. Norvell seems likely to stay put in Norman, too, despite his name being mentioned for a few openings.
“At some point, I'd love to be a head coach,” Norvell said. “I've always aspired to have more responsibility. Those aren't things you just make happen; they happen in their own time.
“I've got an unbelievable job. I think I'm the luckiest man in the world every day I come to work, and I try to approach it that way.”
Leach's replacement, Mark Mangino, left Oklahoma to become Kansas' head coach; Chuck Long, Kevin Wilson and Kevin Sumlin are also former Stoops offensive coordinators who left for head coaching opportunities at San Diego State, Indiana and Houston, respectively.
Sumlin coached the Cougars for four seasons, and concludes his first season as Texas A&M's head coach January 4 in the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma.
“Every experience you have, whether it's a player or a coach, benefits you down the road,” Heupel said. “Things you want to do, things you don't want to do, situations you want to be in and don't want to be in — I think every situation you go through is a learning process.”