Oklahoma-Texas: The Mack Brown-Bob Stoops rivalry might end soon

COMMENTARY — Saturday will be the 15th meeting between the Texas and OU coaches. Will this be the last one?
by Berry Tramel Modified: October 9, 2013 at 2:00 pm •  Published: October 8, 2013

On Dec. 4, 1997, Texas hired Mack Brown. Three hundred sixty-two days later, OU hired Bob Stoops.

It wasn't the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Their jobs are designed for conflict, not accord.

But the arrivals of Brown and Stoops to lead these ancient rivals was the beginning of a historic rivalry. And sadly, it's about to end.

Saturday will be the 15th Stoops vs. Mack OU-Texas game. They long ago surpassed Barry Switzer and Fred Akers (10 years, 1977-86) for the longest coaching rivalry in series history.

Stoops and Mack could be taking dead aim on the longest in college football history. The record is held by Texas' Darrell Royal and Arkansas' Frank Broyles, who combated 19 straight seasons, 1958-76.

Except Mack hasn't kept up. Partially thanks to Stoops, Mack is on his last leg at Texas. Three straight disappointing seasons have been followed by an ugly start to the 2013 season. And nothing short of an upset Saturday in the Cotton Bowl can save Mack now.

Who knows if even that would do it?

Mack's great champion, athletic director DeLoss Dodds, has announced his retirement. Texas Exes from Earl Campbell to Chris Simms have suggested it's time for a coaching change.

OU-Texas tickets in the Longhorn section of the Cotton Bowl are all over the world wide web at less than $100.

The Mack Era, the first sustained stretch of successful Texas football since Darrell Royal, limps to the finish line, which could even come Saturday, if the Sooners put a third straight blowout on UT to join the 55-17 and 63-21 verdicts of the last two years.

Even inside Longhorn football headquarters, they're admitting this game has employment ramifications.

“You know, there might be something,” said Greg Robinson, hired off the scrap heap of The Longhorn Network to coordinate the UT defense after Mack fired Manny Diaz on Sept. 8.”But I don't know … I think it is an opportunity for us.

“You know what? It's Oklahoma week. I would have to think that every year this is the game that you want to play. This is what it's all about, and the pressure of wanting to win and beat them is exciting.”

But Robinson knows. Everyone knows. Lose this game, fall to 3-3 with a defense that can't tackle and a McCoy at quarterback not named Colt, and the Mack/Stoops waltz ends at 15 years.

“People get bored with you, even when you win a lot,” Stoops said this week.

Stoops isn't talking about Mack's job status in particular. Stoops won't touch that topic with a pole as long as Big Tex.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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