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Campaign 2012: Fans stepping up to the Mikes

Approval ratings in Norman and Stillwater could not be higher for Oklahoma's Mike Stoops and Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy.
by Berry Tramel Published: August 26, 2012

Bob Stoops didn't mean to coin a campaign slogan last August. But he did.

“It's Time.”

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.

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