How exclusive is this 15-year club? Of the other eight coaching rivalries that have spanned 15 years, none extended into the 21st century. Only two (Air Force's Fisher DeBerry/Brigham Young's Lavell Edwards and Washington's Don James/Oregon's Rich Brooks) have extended into the last quarter century.
Coaches' tenures are shorter than they used to be. Less patience to win. More opportunity to jump to other jobs when you win, because of the patience issue. Huge salaries mean huge expectations.
So Stoops vs. Mack is an uncommonly long rivalry.
Stoops and Mack are not big buds. They couldn't be even if they wanted to be; the coaches at Oklahoma and Texas engage in too much intense competition to resort to much backslapping.
“I think Mack and I have a mutual respect for one another,” Stoops said. “I know I do, and I feel he does. Whenever we're in meetings … we're always very cordial to one another.
“But beyond that, we don't have opportunities to pal around. I never coached with him, like I did Steve Spurrier. So I vacation and find time for people you already have this relationship with.”
But Stoops said he feels a kinship with Mack. Stoops knows that he has to deal with many of the same things Mack has to deal with, including the pressures of a certain Saturday in October.
“So we have a respective feel for one another,” Stoops said. “Ultimately, we're all facing a lot of the same issues, through players, through media, through whatever.
“So you have a better feeling for what a guy's going through than somebody else might.”
Here's what Mack is going through this week. The knowledge that unless he figures out a way to beat the superior Sooners, the Mack Brown era is about to end and take a great coaching rivalry with it.
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.
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