NORMAN — Oklahoma senior captain Gabe Ikard sat down for his postgame interview Thursday night and made no excuses for his team's embarrassing 41-12 loss to Baylor.
“We're not used to getting beat like this,” Ikard said. “We shouldn't get beat like this.”
Losses of that magnitude, though, have become more commonplace of late for Oklahoma. Thursday represented the Sooners' fourth defeat by 20 or more points in the past five seasons. Oklahoma lost the same number of games by such margins in coach Bob Stoops' first 10 seasons in Norman.
That fact is just one of many illustrating the program's decline since its BCS national championship game loss to Florida on Jan. 8, 2009 — the most recent of Stoops' four title-game appearances.
The Sooners won six Big 12 championships during the first 10 years of the Stoops era, but have claimed just one outright title since.
And after Thursday's loss to Baylor — Oklahoma's second conference setback this season — even a shared title seems unlikely in 2013.
Oklahoma has lost 11 games in Big 12 Conference play since 2009; in the 10 preceding seasons, the Sooners lost 14.
To understand the Sooners' slip in national prestige, consider this: Oklahoma spent 114 weeks ranked in the Top 10 of The Associated Press poll throughout Stoops' first 10 seasons. The past five years? The Sooners have cracked the top 10 just 27 times, and will be hard-pressed to reach that level again this season.
Former OU coach Barry Switzer said the decline can be attributed largely to a drop in talent, especially on the offensive and defensive lines.
“We've fallen off a little bit, and maybe that's why we're not as good as we've been,” Switzer said. “We don't have the Tommie Harris', Gerald McCoys, the physicality of Alabama and LSU and people like that.”
Stoops' first 10 seasons produced 18 consensus first-team All-Americans, 16 major national award winners, five Heisman Trophy finalists and two Heisman winners.
Since the 2009 season began, those numbers are five, zero, zero and zero, respectively.
There are some reasons to be optimistic for the future, though. Stoops has fired four assistants in the last two offseasons, signaling that the head coach himself knows talent evaluation, recruiting and development hasn't been good enough lately.
Two of the new assistants — offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh and defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery — were hired in large part because of their recruiting acumen. The relationships they've built since February could start paying dividends before too long.
Mike Stoops' defense has been another bright spot this year. The unit — despite devastating injuries to linebacker Corey Nelson and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips — played well for the most part against Baylor, and did it with young, inexperienced players in some key positions.
“If we're out of the (Big 12) race, then we're out of the race,” Mike Stoops said. “We've gotta keep getting better for the future, and that's what this program will always be, getting the next guy up. We've got some great young players, and they're playing some outstanding football. That to me is exciting.”
“We're not all the way back yet, but I'm proud of the way our kids compete.”