Bob Stoops wasn't very happy with his conference championship favored Sooners going 8-5 in 2014. Mid-season competitive losses to TCU and Kansas State gave way to a blowout against Baylor that was worse than the 34 point margin, followed by a blundering loss to a struggling Oklahoma State at home and a season concluding 40-6 thumping at the hands of a Clemson team boasting an elite defense coached by former whipping boy Sooner DC Brent Venables. Meanwhile, DC Mike Stoops got worked over again by an inept Clemson offense. It's the little details that twist the dagger in the wound.
What happened to the scrappy Sooners that thumped Alabama a year ago?
In response to his very un-Sooner season, Stoops let go long-time WRs coach and co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell. Norvell was a trusted lieutenant known for creating star receivers who, it is said, had become complacent.
Today, he fired the Sooner Applewhite, former national champion QB and 9 year lead offensive coordinator Josh Heupel.
Meanwhile, brother Mike continues his employment after coordinating one of the most desultory Sooner defenses in recent memory, with a DB group as poorly organized and coached as any Sooner bunch I've seen since the John Blake era. Somewhere, Derrick Strait's mouth is agape in disbelief at what has happened to Sooner defensive backfields once known for their NFL level cohesiveness and aggression. This unit was soft, confused and spent large portions of games seemingly randomly guessing. They may have had a talent problem, but that's no excuse to blow 1/3 of their coverages.
Meanwhile, the Sooners continue to eschew their traditional Texas recruiting base, can no longer land the elite talent in DFW or down the I-35 corridor and have become a national recruiting program reliant on plucking players from California and the plains of Canada. That isn't necessarily a bad thing - good players are good players no matter their geography - but given their druthers most Sooner faithful would rather roll with Adrian Peterson, Billy Sims, Brian Bosworth, Tommie Harris, Mark Clayton and Joe Washington than a four star from Nova Scotia.
Does this all seem a little too familiar? This is shades of Mack Brown 2010. Appointed whipping boys take the fall for a seemingly broader malaise, nepotism and staff favor runs amok (in a place that once prided itself on the bottom line in contrast to the obsessive perception management at UT), complacency finds a foothold, recruiting shifts from fighting the hard battles until the dying minute to finding the kids that will say yes and the fan base begins to wonder why a once solid tactical coach is making decisions that baffle (the amusingly stubborn off coverage against Baylor, the brainless punt to Tyreke Hill against OSU etc) .
Bob Stoops isn't Mack Brown. Different guys. Different coaches. Theoretically, Stoops can get under the hood of a football team and fix it. And Stoops - to his credit - has never had the DC mentality of sacrificing his offensive potential to protect his precious defense. Brown had to hire the mechanics, give them good tools and hope for the best.
But every empire looks the same as it flounders. Stoops is acting out a coaching cliche right now. It's textbook.
Is this a much-needed reset followed by resurrection? Or the the signaling of an end of a long chapter in a rich history? Oklahoma football isn't going away. It can't. It fuels the state and university in ways that only a Nebraska or Alabama fan could fathom. But it can walk in the wilderness for a while. Just as we can. Make no mistake - the Sooner Schooner just broke down in the woods, it's Day Two, it's getting dark and he's pushing on. And for the first time ever, I'm not quite sure about Bob's compass.
And he just ate one of their stupid ponies.