NORMAN — The image in Sunday's sports section was jarring to Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops. It had been a while since he'd seen it in his newspaper, anyway.
Stoops had become accustomed to picking up The Oklahoman to find his own mug. But it was his brother Mike getting the pub this past weekend.
“I'm feeling a little insecure,” Bob Stoops said Monday during a news conference to launch spring practice.
He was joking. But there are again two Stoops brothers in the picture at OU, now that Bob rehired Mike to coach the Sooners' defense.
Yeah, Mike Stoops was again stalking the Owen Field sideline Monday afternoon in crimson and cream. Was it weird for Bob to look over and see his bro?
“No. Heck, we've been on practice fields together forever,” Bob said. “Played together and then, of course, coached together at Kansas State, coached together here.”
But it had been eight years, right?
“Well, you don't forget that quick,” Bob said.
Rejoining his brother was part of the reason Mike wanted to return. But not the only reason, he has said.
“I've always thought this place is special in a lot of ways,” said Mike, previously on staff from 1999-2003. “This is a place where you can win championships. That was an important part of the decision.”
As soon as Mike Stoops was fired at Arizona in October, and the Oklahoma defense started giving up chunks of yards through the air, a faction of fans wanted him back. But, contrary to some thought processes, Mike Stoops is no savior. Because one isn't needed, his brother said.
“I don't think there's any need for magic fixes,” Bob said. “We're coming off a 10-3 season. We had a couple of games where, sure, we didn't play as well as we normally do defensively.”
Stoops then pointed out that OU finished first in the Big 12 in scoring defense and second in total defense. True, but that could not save the Sooners' season.
They gave up nearly 1,000 passing yards in the Texas Tech and Baylor losses.
Still, no overhaul is in the works. After all, Mike Stoops was here previously, and Brent Venables – now at Clemson after ceding his run as defensive coordinator – was using, more or less, the same scheme.
“I'm sure it'll be about the same as it was under Coach V,” said quarterback Landry Jones, who added Monday's initial practice did not look any different, in terms of what he was up against. “Maybe they'll have something for us tomorrow.”
In addition, Monday was the first practice for new linebackers coach Tim Kish. Kish was on Mike Stoops' Arizona staff for the duration of his seven-plus-year stay – and then Kish took over as the interim midway through last season.
“Tim's been an excellent coach for a long time,” Bob Stoops said. “Again, he and Mike speak the same language, which has made it really positive.”
Venables had been the Sooners' only linebackers coach under Bob Stoops.
“We'd been around each other a long time,” Bob Stoops said. “That's life. I talk about that all the time. Very little stays the same forever.”