NORMAN — Bob Stoops lifted himself out of a chair in the Big Red Room the other day, a little more slowly than in perhaps his first OU season, because 47-year-old joints don't spring like 38-year-old joints. As an informal press chat died off, Stoops asked with that still-distinct Ohio accent, "Is that it? Okie dokey.” Turns out, that was not it. Hey, Bob. Did you say "Okie dokey” when you first arrived in Oklahoma? Stoops came as close to laughing as you'll ever see. "No,” he said. "That might be the first time.” Stoops, beginning his 10th season as the Sooner football coach, has been here long enough to do more than pick up Jackie Shipp's vernacular. Ten years on the job, with the program humming along with the elite of college football, has Stoops poised to join the holy of holies. He now belongs with the likes of Barry Switzer and Bud Wilkinson in OU lore. "For level of consistency, I would think he would be right there with them,” said OU athletic director Joe Castiglione. Wilkinson coached 17 years at OU, Switzer 16. Each won three national championships. "I think he has a chance to have a career that has those kinds of statistics,” Castiglione said. "I know it's going to be characterized as one of the best in Oklahoma history. That's already been achieved. Just a matter of how much stronger it can be.” Stoops reaching 10 seasons lifts him onto a new plateau. Longevity, especially in this high-pressure era, is a hallmark of excellence. OU can churn through football coaches with the best of schools. The Sooners have employed 11 head coaches since World War II ended and college football turned a tad more serious; discounting Switzer, Wilkinson and Stoops, the average tenure has been 2.6 years. OU requires huge success from its football coaches. Where else could a guy coach six years, finish No. 2 in the nation in three of those seasons, and not be remembered as one of its all-time greats? But that's exactly Chuck Fairbanks' legacy. Quick. Name the OU coach who went 27-8-3 and took OU to its first postseason game, the 1939 Orange Bowl. Even zealots will be hard-pressed to remember Tom Stidham. So reaching 10 years is no small accomplishment itself. Stoops has avoided all the potholes that prematurely ended the OU careers of many coaches. Losing (John Blake, Gomer Jones). Alienating most everyone (Howard Schnellenberger). Death (Jim Mackenzie). Winning only moderately (Gary Gibbs). The NFL (Fairbanks). Other schools' offers (Jim Tatum, Stidham). Stoops still trails Switzer and Wilkinson by two national titles; he will need at least one more to satisfy all the scholars who compare the epic Oklahoma coaches. But make no mistake. Stoops has joined their exclusive club. In fact, on the Mount Gushmore of Sooner football, Stoops becomes the fourth face, joining also Bennie Owen, who got the stadium built back in 1925 and coached the Sooners 22 years. When Stoops gets victory No. 3 this year, he joins Switzer, Wilkinson and Owen in the 100-win club. Which will be absolutely historic. No other program in college football boasts four 100-win coaches at that school. Stoops isn't one to talk about legacy. "I'm wasting my time worrying about what anyone else thinks,” he said. What does he hope is his legacy? "Only doing things the right way,” Stoops said. "And being a good person, good with people. Helped improve the program. Positive influence, had something to do with contributing.” Stoops' influences weren't produced alone. He's had a stable and effective staff. Just like Wilkinson had Gomer Jones and Pete Elliot and Eddie Crowder, and Switzer had Galen Hall and Bobby Proctor and Scott Hill, Stoops has had Brent Venables and Bobby Jack Wright and Kevin Wilson. But Stoops is captain of the U.S.S. Sooner, the face of the program. And now that face commands a spot alongside the other giants of the program. Bennie, Bud, Barry and now Bob.