Reading between the lines: Stoops

Bob Stoops isn't going anywhere, but it is time for change with other parts of the OU program.

It has now been a couple of days since Oklahoma’s forgettable performance against Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

It’s clear, based on social media, OU fans are still fuming about the 40-6 loss and certainly about the 2014 season as a whole.

OU coach Bob Stoops faced the heat Monday night, taking question after question about “disappointment,” “changes,” “effort,” things coaches never want to have to address.

Stoops was asked what to take from this season? His answer:

“You know, nothing much other than the eight wins. When I first took the job, all anybody wanted to tell me was just beat Texas. Well, that doesn’t fly. I knew it didn’t then, and it still doesn’t. So yeah, this was very disappointing and especially the way it finished.”

It was a little refreshing for Stoops to use that term because it had been readily apparent Stoops loved this group of guys. After OU lost to Kansas State to give the Sooners their second loss, he seemed as stunned as the fans were that this team was out of the college football playoff race.

When a season like 2014 happens, an 8-5 season that didn’t really have the mitigating circumstances of other so-called disappointing years, it makes you take a look in the mirror.

Stoops was asked where does OU go from here? His answer:

“I need to do a better job, first and foremost, as the head of the program. And coaches after me and players after that. We all have to do a better job in what we’re doing.”

Is Stoops the guy to lead OU back to the promised land?

“I’ve always been that guy.”

That single line might have resonated the most in the press conference. There was no sign of being defeated. It was an assertive statement that he wants to be the guy in Norman.

OU fans can live with that, but Stoops is going to have to follow the path of Texas coach Charlie Strong. Frustrated by his offensive production, Strong fired his wide receivers and tight ends coach Wednesday.

If OU is going to avoid another 2014, changes have to be made. Not always easy with Stoops, who himself has always said he is loyal to a fault.

But when you get embarrassed on a national stage like that vs. the Tigers, you know changes are coming. The only question remaining is when.

“I’m not going to discuss any of that. I’m pretty good at not throwing any knee-jerk reactions. And, you know, when you look at our track record for 16 years, I think we’re the only team in the country that’s had eight or more wins the last 16 years so we’ve had a few championships and done it the right way. I’ll take stock of everything and continue to evaluate what we’re doing.”

Stoops was so quick to say he was happy with the preparation for the bowl game. He mentioned nobody missed practice, nobody missed meetings. Everybody did what they’re supposed to do.

However, it felt like the passion wasn’t there. And you can’t speak for 80 players, but it felt like the “unfortunate series of events,” the way the season was described by Eric Striker, could have simply taken a toll on the players. For lack of a better term, maybe Stoops “lost” the players this season.

“Again, I don’t feel that. But, you know, we didn’t play very well so maybe there’s some of that. But I didn’t sense that. I can’t speak for every one of them. You know, that could possibly have happened.”

When Stoops made waves two seasons ago, he did so after national signing day and brought in new blood with Bill Bedenbaugh, Jerry Montgomery and Jay Boulware.

Another round of changes are coming, but with OU looking to close hard on the recruiting trail, it might be better if Stoops doesn’t waste as much time. This time, the sooner is the better.

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories