Sooners' Success Builds Future

NORMAN, Okla. -- The Sooners are a perennial power on the national stage in college football, and it has its major impacts on getting some of the best players around.

Heck, just ask quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel, who, as a quarterback, led the Sooners to the 2000 National Championship when they defeated Florida State 13-2 in the Orange Bowl.

"I think typically the first thing that most kids are going to gravitate to is a program that's got an opportunity to play for a national championship every nine or ten years," Heupel said. "And I know [that's how long it's been] since [we won] the 2000 National Championship."

OU is in the thick of it every year, part of the reason the Sooners were recently named No. 1 on ESPN's Prestige Rankings of College Football, topping the next closest team, USC, by 69 points.

The Sooners boast the most modern-era victories, including a .765 winning percentage since World War II, and the Sooners posted the nation's longest ever winning streak in FBS history when they won 47 straight games under legendary coach Bud Wilkinson.

That's what brings the kinds of players that really want to play for OU.

"Those are the types of kids you want first and foremost in your program," Heupel said.

Often times, it's guys in the state who grow up idolizing former Sooner players and the rich tradition, and thus they follow them.

"I would say all those guys you could look back through those years [at their success and its impact]," said OU head coach Bob Stoops.

Who are some of those idols in the recent years?

"Josh Heupel, Roy Williams, Rocky Calmus, and it goes on and on," Stoops said. "Jason White, Mark Clayton, Tommie Harris. All those guys that get that kind of notoriety and attention, kids follow them."

He said that is something that really boosts the overall level of the program.

"Young guys follow, and I've had guys that tell me I've always been a Sooner fan ever since watching so-and-so," Stoops said. "And all of the sudden we're recruiting, and that kind of thing happens, but there's been a good number of guys that have been in that position to help us."

All of these things help launch the Sooners further and further onto the national stage, and, in turn, help to bring in some of the nation's best players into Norman donning a crimson and cream uniform.

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories