Record within reach for Stoops

It could be history in the making for OU coach Bob Stoops on Saturday at Kansas State.

When Bob Stoops took over at Oklahoma in 1999, nobody thought this would be a scenario in 2013. A chance at history. A chance to become the all-time winningest coach in program history.

That chance is Saturday at Kansas State. It would be a fitting end since Manhattan is where it essentially all started for Stoops. He began his coaching career as a co-defensive coordinator for the Wildcats from 1991-95 and was first on Bill Snyder's staff in 1989.

During his time at OU, Stoops is 157-39, a staggering winning percentage of .801. He sits tied with legendary OU coach Barry Switzer, who accumulated a 157-29-4 overall mark.

But this week is being treated no different by Stoops, who is thinking more about win No. 9 of the season and less about win No. 158 overall.

"No. Not in those terms," said Stoops if winning at KSU would be special. "Definitely, winning there would be great for our season for all of those reasons. Outside of that, Coach Snyder and I aren't going to play. We have got teams and staff and a bunch of people working with us and it will be one team against the other."

All seasons present challenges and this season hasn't been any different. Inconsistent quarterback play with Blake Bell and Trevor Knight has made it a challenge on the field, while the injuries have nearly decimated the team.

Senior captains Trey Millard and Corey Nelson are both hurt for the season. Budding star defensive tackle Jordan Phillips is lost for the year. A number of other key contributors have had to miss significant time during the season.

"I have seen the frustration on his face, but it's Coach Stoops," senior running back Brennan Clay said. "He has such a passion for the game. There are going to be ups and downs because it is never going to be perfect. He is always positive, always looking forward and always doing a great job for us."

OU is 8-2 against Kansas State since Stoops has been at the helm and will be looking to avenge last year's 24-19 defeat at Owen Field.

It's one of the few losses at home as OU is 87-5 (.946) in Norman, including a perfect 6-0 mark this season.

He's always stressed the little things. He did when he took over in 1999 and nothing has changed all these years later.

"He talks a lot about discipline and the little thing all correlating and coming together one way or another," Clay said. "Like going to class, being on time, the little things all come together especially on game days. It all leads to something."

Eight Big 12 championships. Seven bowl wins. Four trips to the national championship, including the memorable 2000 season that gave OU its seventh national championship.

Nobody can reflect more on the situation than Stoops' brother, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. After serving time with Bob, Mike forged his own path at Arizona before coming back to Norman for the 2012 season.

"The thing about Bob is consistency," Mike Stoops said. "He's the same person as when I was here the first time as he was the second time when I came back. He's a good guy to play for and a great guy to work for.

"He lets you do your job and he expects you to do it the right way. I'm sure he'll take a lot of in it, but he's much more concerned about Kansas State than he is about a record."

But the record does mean a lot and does say a lot about what Stoops has done with the program. OU hasn't had the same type of success in recent years as before, but the Sooners haven't fallen off the map, either.

Changes are needed within the program and steps were taken following last season with the replacement of three assistant coaches.

The message has been clear. When 10-win seasons aren't enough for the fanbase, you've set the bar. You've done your job. But for Stoops, there's still more to be done.

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