NORMAN — When Bob Stoops arrived in Norman a decade ago, the position of Oklahoma quarterback was merely a glorified halfback. Four Heisman Trophy finalists later — including one winner and perhaps another on the way — and Stoops has OU on the brink of becoming "Quarterback U.”
Saturday night, Sam Bradford has a chance to become not only the school’s fifth Heisman winner overall, but also its second Heisman quarterback in five years. Bradford leads the nation in touchdown passes (48) and passing efficiency (186.29) in one of the finest seasons ever produced by a quarterback. Barring a collapse in the BCS title game, Bradford will break the NCAA all-time record for passing efficiency in a season. "The guy is just absolutely amazing,” Stoops said. "The poise, the precision he plays with. The guy is just special. I don’t know any other way to say it.” But Bradford is just the latest in an impressive run of Sooner quarterbacks, which began in 1999 with Josh Heupel. After throwing for 30 touchdowns in 1999, Heupel was a Heisman runner-up in 2000 before leading OU to a seventh national championship. In 2003, Jason White became the school’s first quarterback to win the Heisman after throwing for almost 3,900 yards and 40 touchdowns. He was also a finalist in 2004. "I feel fortunate,” Stoops said. "It’s been pretty special.” Up until the late 1960s, Notre Dame was Quarterback U., headlined by four Heisman-winning quarterbacks and a host of other finalists. In the 1980s, Brigham Young had a tremendous run of talented quarterbacks, led by future NFL stars Steve Young and Jim McMahon and capped by 1990 Heisman winner Ty Detmer. From the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, the three Sunshine State powers of Florida, Florida State and Miami dominated the position, combining to deliver six Heisman winners.