KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After concluding a television interview, Bob Stoops was approached by a New York Times reporter, asking if the Oklahoma coach's "Big Game” status had diminished. Despite winning six of the last eight over Texas and hammering No. 1 Missouri for a fifth Big 12 title, the bowl slump questions followed Stoops wherever he went Wednesday during Big 12 Media Days in Kansas City. "It depends on what you consider a big game,” Stoops replied. "We've won a lot of big games.” Indeed, Stoops has. The Sooners returned Red River supremacy to Norman last season by defeating Texas, then took care of Missouri twice to become the first school in league history to win back-to-back Big 12 titles. This year, OU is the overwhelming favorite to win the Big 12 South and seems to be among the handful of teams capable of winning the national title. Not to mention the Sooners have two Heisman Trophy contenders in quarterback Sam Bradford and running back DeMarco Murray. But the pervading theme surrounding Stoops on Wednesday was his club's 20-point loss to West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl, OU's fourth straight BCS bowl defeat. That slump includes the ESPY award-winning loss to Boise State and national-championship losses to LSU and Southern Cal. When asked if he'd change his approach to bowl games, Stoops didn't disclose any specific ideas. "In the end, it's a situation that there isn't any one answer to it. Everyone is complimenting you for three or four weeks leading up to the game, and there are factors you can't control. And the other team gets beat at the end of the year or has something to prove, I think that's a factor in every game, in every BCS game or any bowl game. "There are factors when you also don't have your full team. We have four starters not in the game. That doesn't help you. And in the end, too, I think it's obvious you're playing another championship team and if you're not at your best, you're not going to fare well.” Like he has before, Stoops tried to place the focus back on his 5-1 record in Big 12 title games. "I think we've played pretty well at the end of the year when we played the No. 1 team in the country for the Big 12 Championship, winning in a strong way,” Stoops said. "We've been in six Big 12 Championships and we won five of them. We are doing something right. We know how to win those games. We'll manage these others the best we can.” Asked if Stoops catching heat was ridiculous, Texas coach Mack Brown agreed, reminding everyone of where OU was before Stoops arrived in 1999. Still, the bowl losses continue to resonate with the fans, the media and, evidently, OU's players. "We've been extremely deficient in the winning area of the postseason,” safety Nic Harris said. "We haven't finished the past couple years, which is why we're taking a whole different mindset this year. There's no excuses. We've paid the price time and time again. Now we need to come out and make sure we win the last game.” For that reason, the Sooners have a banner in the weight room with the letters WTLG, which stands for "win the last game.” Until that happens, the questions will keep coming Stoops' way. Fair or not.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops had to answer many question regarding the Sooners' four-game BCS game skid during the Big 12 Football Media Days on Wednesday in Kansas City, Mo. by JOHN CLANTON, THE OKLAHOMAN