Bob Stoops didn't mean to coin a campaign slogan last August. But he did.
Any politico would have been proud.
Accurate. To the point. And spoke directly to the heart of his constituency.
Alas for Stoops, “It's Time” was the right slogan, but the wrong school. It was indeed time in 2011, but for the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who won their first outright conference championship in school history.
Which set up for 2012 the same campaign slogan for both Bedlam rivals.
With a nod to Dwight Eisenhower, the masses chant the same thing these days in both Stillwater and Norman.
“I Like Mike.”
At OSU, the adoration for Mike Gundy has perhaps surpassed the devotion for even Eddie Sutton, who delivered remarkable basketball success in otherwise dark days for OSU.
At OU, the return of Mike Stoops, Bob's little brother, as defensive coordinator has ignited hope that OU could return to stellar defense and the championships it provides.
The Oklahoman's 2012 football preview has adopted the campaign theme, in part because of the popularity of these two Mikes.
The Sooners seek to maintain their remarkable consistency of winning the Big 12 in every even-numbered year of the Stoops era.
The Cowboys seek to prove that 2011 was not a one-time thing, that they indeed have arrived as perennial Big 12 contenders.
“Our football program at Oklahoma State has come a long ways,” Gundy said. “I think that five, six years ago … saying that our goal was to win a Big 12 championship and play for a national championship, there was just a small percentage of people that believed that … and probably 99 percent of those people were in orange.”
But then came 2011, when the Cowboys won the Big 12 by two full games and would have played for the national title if not for an upset November loss at Iowa State in overtime.
“We're at a point now that you win 41 games in four years, and 23 games in two years … we've established ourselves as being a quality program,” Gundy said.
And that starts with Gundy himself, homegrown and homespun. One of OSU's most popular players ever now is its most popular coach ever.
Meanwhile, Bob Stoops might not even be the most popular member of his family among Sooner faithful.
Mike Stoops' five-year run as OU coordinator included the 2000 national title and a defense so stout in 2001 that fans are hard-pressed to remember that his defense had dubious games, too. Texas A&M 2002. Bedlam 2002. Kansas State 2003.
“I'm excited to have Mike back for a number of reasons, not only personally, but professionally,” Bob Stoops said. “When we've worked together, it's been pretty positive.”
No holes in that theory. As fellow Iowa safeties in the early 1980s to coaching together at Kansas State in the 1990s to the Oklahoma Renaissance, the Brothers Stoops have been a force when together.
“We're looking forward to the season,” Bob Stoops said. “Hopefully we can be back to have a chance to once again compete for the Big 12 Championship.”
His fans are counting on it, because they like Mike. And it's the same in Stillwater.
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.