Bob Stoops is giddy. Now, we’re not talking teenage-girl giddy or even just-won-the-lottery giddy. That’s not the Oklahoma coach’s style. But if his Sooner Caravan appearance Thursday night is any indication, he is feeling good. He had a smirk on his face after taking the microphone from master of ceremonies Clarke Stroud. Once the applause died and the music stopped inside the packed ballroom at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Stoops chuckled. "I left a piece of cake on the chair for Clarke,” he explained. "I was hoping he’d sit in it.” Bob Stoops? Practical jokester? Told you he was feeling good. And why not? This time of year, hope springs eternal for everyone in college football, but nowhere is it more bountiful than the Sooner Nation. The Sooners have a luxury afforded few squads nowadays. Experienced stars. Sam Bradford and his Heisman Trophy return as do Gerald McCoy and Jermaine Gresham. The fact that any of the three — much less all — return to the Sooners is nothing short of miraculous. All of them would’ve been first-round draft picks, and nowadays, most players with that kind of potential take the money and run to the NFL. Not these guys. No one in college football returns more star power than the Sooners. That doesn’t mean this team is perfect or unbeatable or without reproach. They have questions. They have concerns. They have issues. Even Mr. Happy knows that. "Last year coming into the season,” Stoops said, "we were really experienced on offense, we were pretty inexperienced on defense and we would have to grow and get better as the year went. And that’s kind of what happened. "I look at this year maybe the opposite, where offensively we have some inexperience in the offensive line and receivers, but I still feel that there’s potential there that if we work it the right way, we can build to being pretty good.” That’s because this team has a defense that could be dominant and a core of returning stars. It’s shades of 2004. Think back to those Sooners. Heisman winner Jason White returned. Ditto for Mark Clayton and Jammal Brown, Brodney Pool and Dan Cody. There was also an incoming freshman phenom by the name of Adrian Peterson. That was a team that blew through the regular season and played for a national championship. Who knows? Maybe Stoops has considered those similarities. Perhaps he has glimpsed the potential greatness of this year’s bunch. That could explain his good mood. Stoops, after all, isn’t much for signing the autographs and doing the pep rallies. And after the first day of practice, you can bet there were other places he would’ve rather been. But he sounded excited as he talked to the crowd. Stoops talked about the ESPN interview he’d done earlier in the day when the topic of Texas having won three of the past four games against OU came up. "Why do you stop there?” Stoops said. "We’re six out of nine.” Applause bubbled up around the room. "Wait a second,” Stoops interjected. "In those three that they want to talk about in the last four, we have three straight Big 12 championships. But let’s not talk about that. "I’m OK with that. I get it. Believe me, I do.” A few folks laughed. "I’m sure that surprises you, right?” Stoops deadpanned. Yep, the Sooner coach is feeling good these days, maybe even a little giddy.