Have you ever noticed that the best programs in college football also tend to be the most unhappy?
It’s a bizarre phenomenon and it’s completely counterintuitive, but there’s an inverse relationship between contentment and sustained success. Call it greed, or maybe even boredom, but there’s a certain miserableness that hangs over the Ohio States and Texases and the like that is unshakable.
It’s the curse of expectations, of living a life in which the margin for error isn’t just zero, it’s negative. It’s not just how you win, but how many style points you can earn in doing so.
If you’re looking for Exhibit A of the, check out any Oklahoma Sooners message board or Internet forum after a loss like the one suffered by OU last night. As a general rule, I avoid them – and most media analysis, for that matter – when OU loses. Reading knee-jerk reactions about firing coaches, whining about disappointment and anonymous grousing just isn’t good for my constitution. And, yes, I get the irony that I’m writing about this on a blog, one of the snarkiest of the snark purveyors.
All of that preamble is a roundabout way of me saying that I recognize what kind of monster I’m about to wrestle with. I also feel like I’m coming at this from a reasonable perspective.
Bob Stoops and his staff have been at Oklahoma for 13 years now, which is something like 120 in coaching years. You could argue that no program can match OU in terms of sustained excellence during that period. They’ve survived significant coaching turnover, off-the-field tragedy, off-the-field knuckleheadedness and more without ever really missing a beat.
But there’s a book on all of us, and Stoops’ OU story is a best-seller in the Big 12. The abbreviated version: Drop additional defenders into coverage; don’t worry about stopping the running game; use the defense’s aggressiveness against it by going over the top.
Obviously, having a strong plan to beat the Sooners and actually executing it aren’t one and the same. OU has plenty of hardware from Big 12 championships sitting in its trophy case illustrating how successful its style has been.
This season just feels different, though. The objections from the peanut gallery are growing even more exasperated than usual.
In the short run, there’s a chance OU will still win out and walk out of Stillwater with yet another Big 12 crown. If so, it will be yet another great achievement for Stoops and his Sooners, illustrating just how much of a vice grip OU has on the conference.
Longer term, however, the question is whether or not a conference title will be as good as it gets for OU from here on out. Is OU destined to keep coming up short without major changes to its program? If so, is there enough dissatisfaction with the way the coaching staff has performed this year to prompt changes in that regard?
I definitely have some opinions on this and potentially suggestions for how to fix the leaks in the Sooner Schooner. There’s too much for just one post, though, so check back this week for more.