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No one in the Sooner Nation hates to lose more than Bob Stoops

Losses still eat at Stoops the way they did when he was a Cardinal Mooney safety or Steve Spurrier's Kato or a 39-year-old whippersnapper newly arrived on the Oklahoma plains.
by Berry Tramel Published: September 24, 2012

NORMAN — Bob Stoops hasn't won a national title in 12 years, he's lost nine conference games since October 2009, he's making $4.5 million a year and he's moving into that castle you can spy from I-35.

You know what that means. Stoops has gone soft. Stoops has lost his edge. Stoops has lost his competitive drive. Content to count his coin when the losses mount.

Except I don't believe it. I see the bulging veins in Stoops' neck when a DB gets burned or a field goal sails wide or a lieutenant doesn't get the play in quickly enough.

I see those eyes that glared darts in Youngstown and Iowa City and Manhattan, doing the same now that Stoops is on the back side of 50.

So amid the wailing and gnashing of teeth over Kansas State's 24-19 victory, remember this. No one is more hacked off than Bobby Stoops. Losses still eat at him the way they did when he was a Cardinal Mooney safety or Steve Spurrier's Kato or a 39-year-old whippersnapper newly arrived on the Oklahoma plains.

“Heck, yeah,” Stoops said. “Absolutely. Can't stand it. It's the worst.”

But going bonkers at your players or staff or self does little good. Kicking a hole in the wall of that new house doesn't help the cause.

“You gotta correct what isn't right and keep what the positives are and keep building on them,” Stoops said.

That's not what Sooner fans want to hear during Festivus, which always is celebrated after an OU losses. The airing of grievances kicks into high gear.

My busiest days of the year are the Sunday after Sooner defeats. I'm like Charlie Brown's Lucy, opening up my psychiatry booth via email, trying to talk OU fans off the ledge. Difference is, Lucy gets a nickel for her services. I don't get a dime.

Here's the truth about these Sooners. The talent has dipped. OU has a roster loaded with good players, but great players are in short supply.

Who's OU's best player? Tony Jefferson, I suppose. Excellent safety. But a game-changer?

Who's next? Demontre Hurst probably. Or even Aaron Colvin. Solid cornerbacks. But difference-makers?

Flanker Kenny Stills has been superb this season, but he's a little bit of a flake. Can you count on him? Gabe Ikard is a fine offensive lineman, but not a dominator.

The Sooners are going through a transition, after the loss of the talent-loaded 2008 and 2009 teams, the latter of which was ruined by injury. Stoops is trying to restock on the fly. Trying not to let the results lag.

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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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