Bob Stoops admitted earlier this week he's never felt appreciated by everyone in Sooner Land.
But on Thursday, we learned that the people who matter most appreciate him.
The Oklahoma football coach was given a contract extension through 2020. Even though the move still needs approval from the Board of Regents — a source close to the situation told us Friday that a raise was not part of the deal — there's no reason to believe they won't fall in line with David Boren and Joe Castiglione.
All of this comes on the heels of a season in which some Sooner faithful called for Stoops' head.
Oh, I'm sure that happens every season — crazies will always be crazy — but this past fall, the chorus was louder than ever. A season that began with so much promise ended with three losses, including the embarrassment of the Cotton Bowl.
So, why would OU leaders decide to extend Stoops' contract now?
Part of it has to be a response to what's happening in college football. Seems every coach at every top-25 program has a long-term contract. Nick Saban at Alabama, Mack Brown at Texas and Charlie Strong at Louisville are all signed through 2020. Mike Gundy has a deal with Oklahoma State through 2019. That's the same year Les Miles' contract runs through with LSU.
There are plenty of schools that have burned by long-term deals. Auburn extended Gene Chizik after the Tigers won the national championship in 2010, then fired him two years later.
It will pay him $7.5 million over four years not to be its coach.
Clearly, there are risks to these long-term contracts, but those hazards seem minimal at OU. Stoops has never had a losing season in Norman. He's never even really come all that close.
And if you don't think that's a big deal, ask the folks in Austin what they think.
Texas has won 22 games the last three seasons.
OU has won 20 the last two.
Among those Sooner wins are a pair of Longhorn thrashings. OU throttled Texas 55-17 two seasons ago and 63-21 last season.
While even some of college football's powerhouses have experienced serious downturns over the past decade-plus, Stoops and the Sooners have continued to ride high. That's not to say everything is grand in Sooner Land. OU has slipped from its lofty perch of several years ago. No two ways around that. But the consistent excellence that the Sooners have had under Stoops is remarkable.
In the case of OU's leadership, it's also appreciated.
“Appreciation” was actually the word Boren used Thursday in a news release announcing the contract extension.
Stoops talked about feeling that love earlier this week at Big 12 Media Day in Dallas.
“Yes, I do feel appreciated by our fans, administration and everybody,” he said. “I've never been appreciated by everybody, even in 2000.”
Who didn't appreciate Stoops the year the Sooners won the national title?
Our man Berry Tramel had a chance to follow up and ask Stoops about that. Stoops explained by saying he received a letter that season from someone who was upset because the Sooners had different striping on their pants.
Sounds like someone looking for something to complain about rather than someone not appreciating Stoops.
Still, the fact remains there are plenty of crimson-clad folks who've lost sight of just how good Stoops is for the Sooners. Not how good he was. How good he is.
Boren, Castiglione and Co. are not among them. They know that if they went looking for another coach, they might find a better one but chances are much better that they would settle for one that wasn't nearly as good. When that is the case, you try to do anything possible to keep your guy around as long as possible.
This contract extension is OU trying to do that with Stoops.
He will be 60 years old when this contract runs out. Who knows if he'll be thinking about retirement then, but whenever that time comes, it looks more and more likely Stoops will retire as a Sooner.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.