So why the dismissals of longtime lieutenants Patton and Shipp? Had to be recruiting related. Patton coached up his patchwork offensive line about as well as a guy could. Shipp's defensive tackles seemed solid, considering that for three straight years, not a one of them was G.K. McCoy.
And the firing of Kittle was necessary. Stoops hired his longtime friend with virtually no coaching experience — not OU-level, or Big 12-level, or college-level experience; virtually no experience — and it just didn't work.
Those close to the program say both coaches and players grew frustrated at Kittle's lack of coaching acumen. When Stoops' critics say he's gotten complacent and soft, the best evidence is Bruce Kittle. Stoops would have little credibility in his own staff room had he kept Kittle and jettisoned Patton and Shipp.
Like it or not, the historic words of everyone from George Lynn Cross to Barry Switzer ring true. This is a monster that must be fed.
OU doesn't pay Stoops $5 million a year for his boyish charm. It pays him $5 million a year to win big, which he did for more than a decade and still does to some degree. Just not quite as big.
The natives are restless, and I don't mean the Chickasha plumber or the Shawnee druggist or the Oklahoma City writer. I mean influential boosters and donors and decision-makers, who still are loyal to Stoops but want to know why he's not winning like the Sooners did not so long ago. Which is why the guillotine was sharpened.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.