NORMAN — Mike Stoops produced one of the most memorable moments in Bedlam history.
In the final seconds of Oklahoma's beat down of Oklahoma State in 2003, Stoops stepped from the Sooner sideline, stopped at the Owen Field hash marks and glared at the Cowboy sideline. Then, he raised his arms, palms up.
“Want some more of this?” his stance seemed to ask of the visitors.
Cowboy fans remember it.
Loathe it, too.
“Really?” Stoops said earlier this week of what he did that day. “I don't even remember.”
“I didn't flip ‘em off or anything, did I?”
Welcome back, Mike.
Bedlam missed you.
Never before has this rivalry been so good, having been spurred by OSU's steady improvement and OU's continued excellence. And yet, even as it has crescendoed these past few years, it has lacked an agitator, something every great rivalry needs.
Enter, Brother Mike.
Or re-enter as it were.
Stoops' return to Norman after seven-plus seasons at Arizona has sparked a resurgent OU defense. His impact cannot be overstated. Despite what happened these past two weeks, the Sooners are a much improved bunch.
Of course, the Sooner defense will be tested again Saturday. The Cowboys are third nationally in total offense, rolling up an average of 553.7 yards every time they step on the field. They will move the ball. They will put up points — probably lots of them.
But you know Stoops will have his defense as prepared as possible.
Frankly, that's his calling card. Former players have often said they never felt unprepared going into a game. They might not have won every game, but they always felt prepared.
Stoops gets his guys ready to play.
That was one of the reasons he was so animated back in 2003.
Perhaps you remember the back story.
The Cowboys were coming off a pair of victories in the series, a shocking 16-13 victory in 2001 and a dominating 38-28 win in 2002. Then, Cowboy coach Les Miles threw jet fuel on the fire by lobbing a pair of salvos at the Sooners.