OU-Florida State and the real reason Bob Stoops doesn't like playing his brother

Bob Stoops gets squeamish at the thought of playing Florida State and his little brother, Mark Stoops, the Seminoles' defensive coordinator. And last year's 47-17 rout of FSU only made matters worse.
by Berry Tramel Modified: September 13, 2011 at 8:29 pm •  Published: September 13, 2011

Dee Stoops came clean. The Stoops matriarch, mother of all those rambunctious boys who now are all rambunctious college football coaches, wasn't entirely neutral at the Oklahoma-Florida State game last September.

Mom Stoops was slightly partial to the Sooners.

Bobby Stoops trumped Mark Stoops. Little more on the line for a head coach than a defensive coordinator.

“Gosh, Bobby,” Dee Stoops told her son, “I'd like to see you win by 3-0.”

Bobby's Sooners won all right, but the final score was 47-17, and it was 44-7 midway through the third quarter.

The lopsidedness made Bobby Stoops sick. Made Mark Stoops sick. Heck, made Dee Stoops sick.

Which is why she won't be in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday night. Once through the emotional family ringer was enough for her. No way will she put herself through that again.

“It's just hard to watch,” Mom Stoops said. “It isn't fun. It isn't fun for the family.

“I have a heavy heart because I know somebody's going to lose. There's no ties anymore.”

Bob Stoops walked into his postgame news conference last season looking like someone ran over his dog. He was noticeably upset, despite a huge victory for his program.

“I thought I said it the best way after the game,” Stoops said. “I felt the entire week it would a miserable experience. After the game, I was sure of it. I've never been so conflicted and miserable about winning.”

We watched the Ryan brothers go head-to-head on Sunday Night Football. Head coach Rex's Jets beat defensive coordinator Rob's Cowboys in a rousing game in the Meadowlands.

America thought it was great theater. Stoops did, too.

“Fun to watch,” Stoops said. “I think they're great. I could see why people get enamored with it.”

Just as long as his family isn't the featured attraction. Stoops is so tight with his brothers, he says he can't even watch their games when he's not involved.

Someone asked Stoops last week if he was headed to Stillwater to watch brother Mike's Arizona team play at Oklahoma State. Go to Stillwater? Stoops says he didn't even watch the game; it's too emotionally taxing.

We all clamor for such drama. Talk about an OU-Arizona bowl game. Or an OU-Arizona rivalry in the Pac-16. Get excited at the idea of Bob shouting on one sideline, Mike screaming on the other.

Suck it up, guys, we tell them. You're paid a lot of money to play whoever lines up across the field.

But I've got two brothers. The idea of my success at their expense doesn't sound cool. Doesn't sound cool at all. Why should the Stoopses of Detroit Avenue be any different?

“If you're playing your brother for a championship, that's OK,” Bob Stoops said. “One of you is going to win a championship.

“You spend your life fighting for your brother. Go play another neighborhood, bring your brothers with you. Always helping each other out. Then gotta beat each other? It's not what you want. It's not natural.”

Don't think the Stoopses aren't competitive. Heck, we all know better than that. We even know they're competitive with each other, judging by Bob's stories from the old house in Youngstown, where wrestling matches and crazy shenanigans would break out almost nightly.

“We still play hard,” Dee Stoops said. “Card game. Golf game. You name it.” She told her daughter awhile back, “Kathy, how can you get so excited over a card game?”

Kathy's response: “Who likes to lose? We like to win.”

But this is different. This is high stakes. Too many defensive performances like Florida State pulled at Owen Field last September, and Mark Stoops won't be the Seminole coordinator for long. Too many big-game losses like OU could receive Saturday night, and, well, Bobby Stoops is a made man. No conceivable series of events could put his job in jeopardy.

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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 Oklahoman,...
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