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.