NORMAN — Bob Stoops’ job-training program has run like clockwork.
Without fail, in odd-numbered years, a Stoops assistant has been hired away to run a program of his own.
In 1999, offensive coordinator Mike Leach went to Texas Tech. In 2001, offensive coordinator Mark Mangino was hired by Kansas. In 2003, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops accepted the position at Arizona. In 2005, Chuck Long took a job with San Diego State. And most recently in 2007, wide receivers coach Kevin Sumlin was snatched up by Houston.
But this odd-numbered year, the streak could be in jeopardy.
Not necessarily because Oklahoma struggled to a 7-5 season. Scores of schools would still love to have either Brent Venables or Kevin Wilson, who Sooner fans seem to forget was named the top assistant in all of college football one year ago.
The biggest obstacle to the streak is the current dearth of vacancies.
As it stands, only Buffalo, Cincinnati, Louisiana-Monroe, Marshall, San Jose State and UNLV are searching for a head coach; twice that many head-coaching jobs have been open at this time the last two years.
Louisiana-Monroe and San Jose State don’t have the caliber of program or the cash to lure away a Sooner coordinator. Marshall and UNLV seem to have gone in other directions. And who knows what Buffalo will do, having lost its coach, Turner Gill, to Kansas over the weekend (Gill coincidentally has hired Long to be his offensive coordinator).
That leaves Cincinnati as the only premier job currently on the table, and the only viable chance, unless another opening comes available, of keeping the streak alive.
So far, the lone candidate the Bearcats have made a formal overture toward is Sumlin, who over the weekend declined an interview and is expected to sign a contract extension this week with Houston.