"Pretty much the same guy since I've known him," Heupel said. "Demanding. Brings his lunch pail every day and goes to work."
Stoops, in his 12th Sooner season, seems more relaxed than ever before. Less edge. More patience.
"I'm wiser," Stoops said. "I get it. Little things don't bother me as much they used to.
"Every day there's a problem or an issue. I'm lucky if there's only one. You become, not immune to it, but you're expecting it."
Stoops was hired at the age of 38, which seems young but was old by OU standards. Gary Gibbs and Jim Mackenzie were 36 when they got the job. Switzer was 35. John Blake was 34. Chuck Fairbanks was 33. Jim Tatum was 32. Bud Wilkinson was 31. Bennie Owen was 30.
Sooner athletic director Joe Castiglione selected Stoops and said he was hoping for a long-timer.
"Absolutely I was thinking long-term," Joe C. said. "Thinking of a program-builder."
Castiglione was hoping he would find a coach who would last into his 50s. Now he's hoping that coach will stay until his 60s.
"Sixty is the new 45, or whatever they say," Castiglione said. "If he sees and feels he consistently has a chance to be successful, why would you go anywhere else?"
There will be no big gala tonight at the Stoops homestead. No surprise party, Carol said. Stoops' mother is flying in from Youngstown today, and the family will have a nice dinner and await Stoops Bowl I, with brother Mark coordinating the defense for Florida State on Saturday at Owen Field.
Get a victory Saturday, and the Stoops clan — sans Mark — can celebrate with a little more revelry the milestone birthday of a man who is becoming an elder statesman, even if he doesn't feel like one.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.Berry Tramel: Big game for Florida State