Oklahoma Football: Necessary Changes Will Test Stoops' Best Attribute

Friday, January 2nd 2015, 4:48 pm
By: News 9

There's nothing to be learned from a bowl game. A bowl game is a singular event that doesn't always shine a light on reality. It's one game, almost a month after the regular season where almost anything can happen.

Case in point is last year's Sugar Bowl, when Oklahoma took down Alabama. However, Monday's embarrassing 40-6 loss to Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl was not an anomaly—it was a final picture of a disappointing season that saw the Sooners go from virtual College Football Playoff lock to 8-5.

Changes have to be made if the Sooners don't want 8-5 to become the norm and that's where OU coach Bob Stoops is going to be tested. For years, Stoops' loyalty has been his defining characteristic. Until after the 2011 season, he had never fired an assistant coach. Then he fired four in two seasons. Now he may have to get rid of the two coaches he is closest to in order to get the Sooners back on track.

Those two coaches are his coordinators, Mike Stoops and Josh Heupel. They're close to Stoops for obvious reasons—Mike Stoops is Bob's brother and Heupel was the quarterback on Stoops' national championship team in 2000.

College football is about winning and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Sure, there are virtuous aspects of the sport, but it's all about the wins and losses, especially at a college football factory like Oklahoma. Simply put, the Sooners aren't doing enough winning right now, and a lot of that falls on the shoulders of their coordinators.

Both oversaw painfully inconsistent units this season, although the defense was more consistent than the offense—in a negative sense, though.

Perhaps Bob was trying to rekindle some early-2000s magic on defense when he brought Mike back in 2012. Suffice to say, that hasn't happened. If anything, it seems Mike is completely outmatched by the speed and versatility of today's offenses.

Offensively, it seems Heupel tends to call games like he would play them as a quarterback rather than catering the game plan to the personnel he has at his disposal. How else can you explain trying to make Trevor Knight a pocket passer when he is clearly not? Or having Cody Thomas throw 17 first half passes at Texas Tech, one of the worst run defenses in the country?

In addition to that, the Sooners could never figure out what they wanted their identity to be on offense. Just when you thought they'd figured it out with a 510-yard rushing performance against Iowa State, the next week against Baylor, Samaje Perine touched the ball five times.

It's never easy to fire someone you personally hired, implying you thought they were the best man for the job in the process. It's even harder when it's your brother and a former player who won you a title. But if Stoops wants to stick around Norman for a while, he has to make these moves.

The Sooners need a defensive coordinator who understands how to stop—or at least limit—the variety of offenses in college football today. Mike Stoops does not appear to be that guy. OU also needs an offensive coordinator that is going to establish an identity based on personnel and won't change that from game to game like Heupel has.

Regardless of what decisions Stoops makes on the coaching staff (and changes are guaranteed to come), it's going to test Stoops' most admirable characteristic. And the changes that need to be made the most involve those he's closest to.

Loyalty is a great attribute to be known for, but it's not the most important thing in college football—winning is. If Stoops wants the Sooners to be national contenders, he'll put winning before his loyalty.