We kept hearing Bob Stoops' name linked with the Cleveland Browns. Kept hearing that Stoops might finally be ready to jump to the NFL.
The NFL? Maybe some day. Maybe even some day soon.
But the Browns? No chance.
In fact, Cleveland is the prime example of what keeps coaches like Stoops on campus.
The Browns returned to life for the 1999 season. The same year Stoops arrived in Oklahoma.
The Browns have fired six coaches during those 15 years: Chris Palmer, Butch Davis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur and Rob Chudzinski.
Chudzinski was fired last week after one year on the job.
The new-age Browns also have had six general managers. They've got a new chief executive officer, Joe Banner, who's been on the job 15 months and has fired two coaches.
The company of the Browns' new owner, Jimmy Haslam, is under federal investigation for rebate irregularities.
Oh yeah, Stoops is going to run to that job. Let's see. Shaky ownership. Quick-trigger leadership. No quarterback. Cold weather. In a division with three franchises that do seem to know what they're doing.
What's not to love about that offer?
Nobody that already has a really good football job is going to Cleveland. And Stoops has a really good football job.
The Sooners aren't back on top of college football, but they're not far off, as we discovered — and maybe he did, too — in New Orleans.
OU has stable leadership; Stoops works for the same two men, president David Boren and athletic director Joe Castiglione, who hired him 15 years ago.
OU is investing in its program. I talked to Stoops a couple of months ago about what was next on his wish list, after the opening of the new dorm, and he really wasn't passionate about anything. There's a faction of boosters that want to modernize the west-side upper deck; new press box, new suites, make it comparable to the east side. Stoops seemed fine either way.
OU's talent isn't where it once was, but it's not where we thought it was. The Sooners stared down Alabama and have a bunch of ballplayers returning.
Stoops has a quarterback, he's got an energized fan base, he's got enough ammunition to say “told you so” all the way to September. He's happy as a bird.
Stoops keeps his options open. Down in New Orleans last Friday, he said, “you never know” concerning the Browns. He also told the Casillas & Company radio show “It's my full intention to be the coach at Oklahoma next year.”
I believe him on both counts. I believe he does plan on staying in Norman, and I also believe that you indeed never do know for sure.
OU officials are confident that Stoops is not entertaining NFL offers. The pro rumors could be nothing more than his agent angling for a raise from OU. That's standard practice in a profession that has become quite sordid on the money side.
Stoops is not at a stage of his life where leaving would be ideal. A daughter in high school. Twin sons soon to enter high school.
The NFL interests most football coaches, Stoops included. Also scares most football coaches, too, because of its volatility.
I think it's possible that Stoops answers the siren song some day. Might even be when the Sooners are riding high; I think it would be important to him to leave OU in a good way.
But any franchise that wants to whisk away Stoops from Norman better have solid ownership and proven leadership. A good quarterback and decent weather wouldn't hurt, either.
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 FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.