Mike Stoops was never going to be a fan favorite at Oklahoma State.
Not after taking the job as defensive coordinator at Oklahoma.
Not with his big brother being the Sooners' head coach.
But the way the orange-clad masses feel about him goes beyond any of that. Even though Stoops has been the head coach at Arizona, not the defensive mastermind at OU for the better part of a decade, there are some antics from his Sooner days that still stick in Cowboy fans' craw.
They loathe him. They despise him. They see him as an enemy of State.
What could be better than a little comeuppance in the Alamo Bowl?
Listen, every fan wants to watch their team win its bowl. Cowboy fans would just like to see OSU win this one 81-6.
The reason is Stoops.
It started with things he said, then culminated with something he did.
First came the words. A year after OSU's 16-13 upset of OU â€” the biggest upset ever in the Bedlam series â€” Stoops was asked about the emotional toll that loss had on him. Then the Sooners' co-defensive coordinator, he downplayed it.
â€œDoesn't bother me half as much as the A&M gameâ€ this year, he said of the trip to College Station when the Sooner pass defense decided to take the day off.
â€œYou play long enough, you're not going to make all the plays,â€ he said of the plays OU defenders failed to make against flankers T.D. Bryant and Rashaun Woods late in that Bedlam upset. â€œTo me, you can live with that.â€
Stoops was more contrite a few days later when OSU took a sledgehammer to OU's defense. He heaped praise on the Cowboys, who rolled up 506 yards in a 38-28 victory in Stillwater.
â€œWe never felt like we had control of the game,â€ he said. â€œWe didn't have an answer all day for them. They had a great game plan and utilized the strengths of their team.â€
Amid that admiration, though, was a slight dig.
â€œThey didn't make it real complicated either,â€ Stoops said.
Despite all of that, nothing galled Cowboy fans more than what happened a year later in the 2003 edition of Bedlam.
Those were the glory days of Bedlam bad blood, and then-Cowboy coach Les Miles lobbed the opening salvo. The weekend before Bedlam, OSU was at Texas A&M, and after pounding the Aggies, Miles was asked about the Sooners.
â€œThey're the best team in college football â€¦ we're told,â€ he said.
But wait, there was more.
â€œNext Saturday, two teams are going to play,â€ Miles said a couple days later during his weekly press conference. â€œOne is maybe the best team in college football and the other one is a darn good football team.
â€œWe're going to play to figure out which one is which.â€
Those words came back to haunt Miles and the Cowboys when the Sooners throttled them 52-9. It was in the final moments of that smackdown that Mike Stoops stepped from the Sooner sidelines, walked past the numbers and glared across the Owen Field turf.
Then, he raised his arms, palms up.
â€œWant some more of this?â€ Stoops' stance seemed to ask the Cowboy sideline.
Stoops moved to Arizona less than a month after those on-field antics, but the ill will has lingered.
After the Alamo Bowl matchup with Arizona was announced, a lengthy discussion about Stoops ensued on the GoPokes.com message board, a popular cyber spot for Cowboy fans. The first post took exception to the coach's want-some-more-of-this gesture.
â€œIt looks like it may soon be time for OSU to ask you the same thing in San Antone!!!â€ the post read.
Ah, sports hate.
Ain't it grand?
Much is on the line for the Cowboys in the Alamo Bowl. Win 11 games for the first time in program history. Score OSU's biggest bowl victory in two-plus decades. Put an exclamation mark on what has already been a magical season.
For Cowboy fans, all of that would be great, but so would this one last thing.
Stick it to Mike Stoops.