Oklahoma football: After years of preaching calm, Bob Stoops sharpens the guillotine

Like it or not, the historic words of everyone from George Lynn Cross to Barry Switzer ring true. Oklahoma football is a monster that must be fed. Bob Stoops did just that with the firings of three assistants
by Berry Tramel Published: February 16, 2013
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photo - NATIONAL SIGNING DAY / SIGN / SIGNED / LETTER-OF-INTENT SIGNING DAY: University of Oklahoma head football coach Bob Stoops speaks during a press conference on National Signing Day at OU on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, in Norman, Okla.  Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
NATIONAL SIGNING DAY / SIGN / SIGNED / LETTER-OF-INTENT SIGNING DAY: University of Oklahoma head football coach Bob Stoops speaks during a press conference on National Signing Day at OU on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, in Norman, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

Not so long ago, some wondered if Bob Stoops had it in him to make difficult decisions. Had it in him to fire a coach, if he deemed it necessary.

Seems so quaint now, with the guillotine freshly oiled. Three Stoops staff members gone in the last week, on the heels of a firing and a demotion a year ago.

Perhaps the reign of terror is over for now. Robespierre rests. But there's no rest in the OU football office. The staff is on alert. The lion has roared. The Sooners' current status is unacceptable.

So gone are James Patton, Jackie Shipp and Bruce Kittle, joining Willie Martinez and Brent Venables from the purge of last winter. Extreme Makeover: OU Football Edition.

As the Sooner coaching roster stands now, Stoops has four holdovers from his 2010 staff and three veterans of the mighty 2010 Arizona staff. And with two openings left, who's to say the 'Zona Revolution won't continue? Mike Stoops' imprint on the program is gaining momentum by the second.

Will the staff upheaval change Sooner fortunes? Who knows? It's not like OU is in the dregs. The Sooners are 40-13 since losing to Florida in the Big Bowl four years ago. That's an average season of 10-3, which will get you a statue built in Waco but a For Sale sign in your Norman yard.

The Sooners aren't so much in a slump as they've grown stale. The defense leaks like every other team's in the Big 12. The offense is productive but no better than the third-most perennially feared in the conference.

Stoops, a steady Eddie for his first 13 years on the job, no longer preaches calm. No longer declares that everything is fine and hey, even if it's not, the Longhorns aren't tearing it up themselves.

Coaching changes often help. Often don't, too, witness the 2012 Sooner defense and even Mack Brown's own reign of terror a couple of years back.

But it's not like new blood has been in short supply in Norman. Let's see. Josh Heupel and Patton in 2006. Jay Norvell in 2008. Kittle in 2011. Mike Stoops and Tim Kish in 2012. Through free-will attrition, the OU staff has been anything but stagnant.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
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...
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