Listening to some loudmouths in the Sooner State, you’d wonder why any institution that’s serious about its football would be interested in stealing Bob Stoops out of Oklahoma.
And, yet, with Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis’ ample seat growing warmer by the snap in South Bend, the Chicago Sun-Times put the word out today that Stoops is supposedly interested in talking to the Irish brass if the job opens up.
Apparently no one in the ND brain trust bothered to check the message boards and consult with “OURULZ” and “SoonerStud.”
The Stoops-must-go crowd of George Steinbrenner wannabes contend that OU’s four-loss 2009 season just proves what they claim to have known for years: Stoops has lost “It.” To them, it would be a blessing in disguise if OU’s head coach decided to light out for South Bend.
They probably thought New Coke was a great idea, too.
On the heels of an ugly loss at Nebraska, Stoops’ normally steely demeanor cracked last week when addressing criticisms about how he has handled his team throughout what has to be his most trying season leading the Sooners. The cacophony of idiot bloggers, TV analysts and talking heads wondering how he could let his team sink to such lows finally had grown too loud.
In a football-rabid state that has wiped the unholy trinity of Gibbs, Schnellenberger and Blake from its collective consciousness, winning–and doing so in a big way–is really the only way to avoid the Sooner Inquisition. Unfortunately for Stoops, he has yet to return to the pinnacle he reached in his second season nine years ago. Despite all of his successes since then, that’s just not good enough for a vocal group who have grown dissatisfied with being thought of as “excellent” and not “the best.”
Even Stoops’ staunchest defenders would have to admit that he has his fair share of faults. He’s stubborn. He appears unwilling to hold his assistants’ feet to the fire, at least in public. His teams have folded more than once in the face of adversity. The Sooners’ lack of discipline in recent years only seems to be getting worse, not better.
There’s also something to be said for the potential benefits of new blood. It’s almost inevitable that a coach’s message and methods at a program will grow stale once they exceed their shelf-life.
None of that changes the reality that Stoops is one of the three or four most successful coaches of the past decade. He also took a program that spent a decade lost in the wilderness back to the upper echelon of college football.
In that light, it’s easy to see why Stoops would make an attractive candidate for the not-yet-vacant Notre Dame gig.
And it’s just as easy to see why Stoops may be ready to move on.