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Don't be surprised if Josh Heupel is OU's head coach one day

Josh Heupel, the Sooners' 32-year-old co-offensive coordinator, is on the coaching fast-track.
by Berry Tramel Modified: December 27, 2010 at 8:28 am •  Published: December 26, 2010

PHOENIX — Not long after OU's 2000 national championship, I made some crack about the 2020 Sooners and their head coach.

Josh Heupel.

Don't call it prophecy. Call it common sense. Anyone who's been paying attention in this Bob Stoops Century could tell that Heupel was on the coaching fast track.

At the ripe young age of 32, Heupel has been elevated to OU's co-offensive coordinator and play-caller, starting with the Fiesta Bowl.

Heupel doesn't like the fast-track term but admits “I'm a relatively young coach; I understand that.”

Six years ago, Heupel was a graduate assistant. Twelve years ago, Heupel was a quarterback looking for a home after splitting time with the immortal Fred Salanoa at Snow Junior College.

Makes Heupel wonder how his life would have changed had he not taken that phone call from Mike Leach, newly hired as Stoops' offensive coordinator and in sore need of a quarterback.

“You look at the road I've taken, it's amazing,” Heupel said. “I'm very appreciative of the opportunities they gave me back in '99.

“I can't fathom knowing now what I know, not picking up that phone.”

But almost immediately we saw in Heupel the possibilities. Unflappable. Coach-on-the-field. Born to wear a whistle around his neck. A golden boy. That's what he was.

Sooner fortunes changed the day Stoops arrived, and OU's offense changed the day Leach arrived. But would either have launched in such grand fashion without a triggerman like Heupel?

“Definitely he jump-started the program and us,” Stoops said. “It wasn't happening without him.”

Now, does anyone believe Heupel's track will slow? Does anyone believe he won't one day be OU's head coach?

A thousand things could happen, but if you had to guess who would be the Sooner head coach in 2020, wouldn't you figure Stoops 1A and Heupel 1B?

I'm not saying Heupel will automatically replace Stoops. If Stoops suddenly decides he wants to coach the 2011 Dallas Cowboys, Brent Venables or an import would take over. But if a 60-year-old Stoops should get a hankering to join the PGA Super Seniors, want to bet against Heupel moving into the big office?

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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