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Stoops, staff hate losses, but they don't stay down for very long

by Berry Tramel Published: August 24, 2008
NORMAN — Losing is the worst part of Jackie Shipp's job.

He hasn't lost much. Shipp is a charter member of Bob Stoops' staff; in nine years at OU, they've lost 22 times, in 119 games.

But in recent years, the Sooners are becoming known as much for defeat as for victory. Four straight BCS bowl defeats, including two in national championship games.

You know how losing eats at Sooner fans? How a loss to Texas is the end of the world or a BCS bowl defeat means the wheels have come off?

Losing affects the coaches far more. Living with a loss gnaws at Stoops and his staff.

"For the hours we put in ... all that effort, and you don't get the victory, that's the worst part,” Shipp said.

It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it, every Saturday, every game. Says so in the NCAA rules, which eliminated ties in 1996. And bowl defeats are worst of all, since last-game losses mean eight months until the next game. Eight months of living with disappointment.

"It's hard,” OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables said of losing. "To me, when you do it at a place like Oklahoma, it's somewhat fatalistic. You feel like you let a lot of people down.”

Stoops handles defeat well. At least outwardly.

Not all coaches do. OU assistant Cale Gundy melted down at the Fiesta Bowl last January, lashing out at a couple of writers who weren't even talking to him.

Stoops might feel like kicking a dog or dressing down a writer, but he refrains. Venables said Stoops displays great leadership in defeat.

"He doesn't allow you to be down long,” Venables said. "We've ridden his coattails in that regard.”

After OU's 48-28 loss to West Virginia in January, Stoops was more introspective than in past bowl defeats, saying he would have to examine all aspects of his program's preparation.

Stoops doesn't have a lot of experience losing.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist and Reporter
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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