We heard the theories in January 2003, when Dave Campo was fired, and we heard the theories again in January 2007, when Bill Parcells stepped aside, and we heard the theories again in December 2009, when it appeared Wade Phillips might lose his job.
The Dallas Cowboys might be interested in hiring Bob Stoops.
Now that Phillips has indeed been put out of his misery, do not expect the same rumors. Stoops-to-the-NFL doesn’t have the same sizzle it did years ago. I think there’s a lack of interest on both sides.
Stoops seems more settled in Norman and in the college game than ever before. Stoops seemed a little less rooted 6-8 years ago. Now his Sooner roots run deep.
But I think the NFL is a little less enamored with Stoops than it was. The Sooners don’t win quite as much as they once did, but that’s not really an issue with the pros. The NFL has hired head coaches from Oregon State (Mike Riley), California (Steve Mariucci), Boston College (Tom Coughlin), Syracuse (Dick MacPherson) and, well, you get the idea.
It’s just that the whole NFL as a whole isn’t crazy about college coaches. In the 2000s, the only college head coaches hired to be NFL head coaches are Miami’s Butch Davis (Browns), Florida’s Steve Spurrier (Redskins), Oregon State’s Dennis Erickson (49ers), LSU’s Nick Saban (Dolphins), Louisville’s Bobby Petrino (Falcons) and USC’s Pete Carroll (Seahawks). Only Davis lasted more than two years, though Carroll is in his first year in Seattle and could make it past that.
And Stoops hasn’t done much to make an NFL owner or general manager want to entrust him with a team. Stoops’ game management on the college level makes him a little more dicey in the NFL.
College powers like Oklahoma play close games every once in awhile. NFL teams, even the great ones, play close games almost every week.
Coaches that don’t know how to manage a game don’t last long. Stoops’ decision to go for two points in the fourth quarter at Missouri after drawing within nine was completely misguided. It’s standard operating procedure; you keep the game within one possession. And Stoops’ clock management Saturday night at Texas A&M was inexcusable; down 14 points, a little more than two minutes left, second-and-goal inside the Aggie 5-yard line, and OU runs the ball three straight times.
Even if that’s offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson’s doing, Stoops has to accept responsibility. That’s a head coach’s job, to yell “Throw the ball!” at the first sign someone plans to run it and waste valuable seconds.
This is not a discussion of the merits of Wilson’s play-calling against A&M. That’s for another day. It doesn’t matter if OU had sliced up the Aggie run defense all night, you have to throw there, to preserve time. Down 14 points with two minutes left, a team’s biggest enemy is the clock.
A coach who doesn’t manage the clock or the score doesn’t last 15 minutes in the NFL.
There doesn’t seem to be an explanation for why Stoops has butchered two straight road games in terms of game management. He’s a sharp guy. It’s not rocket science. But he has screwed it up, and NFL decision-makers know that just as well as we do.