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OU-Texas coaches: How Bob Stoops and Mack Brown resemble an old married couple

RED RIVER RIVALRY — Saturday will mark the 13th meeting between Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops and Texas’ Mack Brown. But Stoops warns “marriages are hard to keep together. You know that in today’s world, with all the realignment and family fighting.”
by Berry Tramel Published: October 5, 2011

DALLAS — Time for a bedtime story. It's going to be a big weekend. Need to get your rest.

Once upon a long ago, Oklahoma and Texas played a football game with a couple of guys named John coaching.

I know, I know. Sounds shaky. Maybe when the teams traveled by train and the public address announcer used a megaphone.

But no. In the year of our Lord 1997, Johns Blake (OU) and Mackovic (UT) matched wits in the Cotton Bowl. The Sooners were en route to a 4-8 season, the Longhorns a hair better, at 4-7.

Now, Bob Stoops and Mack Brown are as much OU-Texas staples as corny dogs, Big Tex and the giant Ferris wheel.

Saturday marks the 13th Stoops-Brown showdown, with Stoops holding a 7-5 edge. They long ago passed Barry Switzer and Fred Akers (10 years) as the longest coaching rivalry in this series. Now Stoops and Brown take aim at the longest coaching rivalries in the sport's history.

The 16 Big Red years of Switzer/Tom Osborne. The 18 Iron Bowl years of Bear Bryant/Shug Jordan. And the peak rivalry, the 19 years of Darrell Royal/Frank Broyles in Texas-Arkansas shoot-outs.

But the last year has brought alarm to the Stoops/Brown future. Would Mack remain the Texas coach? Would OU and Texas stay in the same conference, and if not would they keep playing?

The 4-0 start of Brown's current Longhorns seems to have alleviated the former concern. Texas doesn't look like a gangbuster in this autumn of 2011, but neither do the ‘Horns look like the bumblers of 2010.

So it appears Stoops and Brown are good to go in their current jobs. But will those jobs put them in the Cotton Bowl the second Saturday of October for years to come?

“Hard to tell,” Stoops said this week. “Marriages are hard to keep together. You know that in today's world, with all the realignment and family fighting.”

There Stoops goes again. Laying some kind of political groundwork. I thought we had established this. Don't go leveraging Texas. You only get burned.

Stoops admitted the historical fact. OU and Texas are two great powers that go even greater together. The Sooners have had great eras of dominance. The Longhorns have had the same. But not until the 2000s, when they were in a league together, have both been nationally elite at the same time.

“It's fair to say that we both complement each other really well,” Stoops said. “Maybe one and one doesn't equal two with us together. It may equal four. But only if it's done appropriately and harmoniously.”

If not, Stoops said, “then you gotta do what you gotta do and … live the way you gotta live. Then people got to live with the consequences.”

See what I mean. Stoops is still threatening Texas. Still warning the ‘Horns about Bevo TV's shenanigans of showing high school content. Hey, Bob and the rest of the Big 12. Only legislation will work. Not threats.

But grant Stoops this much. For the first time maybe ever, OU-Texas is more important in Austin than in Norman.

It's important in Norman. This rivalry – where it's played, when it's played, if it's played – is a decision made above even Stoops. I know, hard to believe any decision is made above the $4 million man.

But this game is so much a fabric of the university mission, from fundraising to student recruitment to donor ticket status, that football doesn't get the final say.

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by Berry Tramel
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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