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Is Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops’ Job on the Line?

As things currently stand, longtime Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops’.792 winning percentage is No. 4 among active FBS head coaches with at least five years in the industry. His 168 wins is seventh-most in the NCAA behind the likes of college football saints Frank Beamer, Bill Snyder, and Nick Saban. Out of the 16 teams he’s had with the Sooners, only four of them have finished with less than 10 wins. He has nine Big 12 Conference championships, an 8-8 postseason record, and a 2000 BCS title ring.

But after Oklahoma’s worst season since 1999 – Stoops’ first with the program – the 54-year-old’s driver’s seat as the Sooners’ head coach has experienced some warmth for the first time.

“It’s not a popular topic, but it needs to be said: It’s time for Bob Stoops to go,” wrote John Hoover of TulsaWorld.com following Oklahoma’s embarrassing 40-6 loss to Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl. “It’s time for Joe Castiglione to find that Little Black Book that he tucked away years ago in some drawer, the one with all the compelling names of men he thinks might be good candidates to take over as head football coach at Oklahoma, and start formulating a plan.”

Ok, so maybe Hoover was a little overdramatic there. But he’s not too far off the mark – Stoops hasn’t been the same, well, Stoops, in several years. Take away his recent Sugar Bowl win against Alabama in what was an all-around enigma of a 2013 campaign and his last three bowl wins were against middling opponents on “what could have been” stages.

“In the past decade, OU’s bowl wins are Oregon in the Holiday Bowl, Stanford in the Sun Bowl, Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl, Iowa in the Insight Bowl and Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Yuck,” wrote Hoover. “Let’s face it. That’s one good bowl win in the past 10 years. Oregon was in the BCS hunt but had been stricken with quarterback maladies. Stanford was average and also lost its QB. Connecticut was below average, and Iowa was below that.”

And how about those losses? Following their 21-14 loss to LSU in the 2003 Sugar Bowl, the Sooners are getting blown out in the postseason by an alarming 21.5 points per game. That includes some pretty historic losses: 55-19 vs. USC; 41-13 vs. Texas A&M; 40-6 vs. Clemson. Oh, and 43-42 against a Boise State team that was just becoming Boise State.

But the statistic that should be highlighted over and over with exclamation marks, underlines and a few tear stains is Stoops’ record against quality opponents and top competition over the last seven years.

Ouch, baby. Very ouch.

“And as long as we’re offering up hard truths, let’s be real. What Nick Saban said about his team’s disinterest last year in New Orleans may not have sat well with Sooner fans, but it looks more and more like he was right,” wrote Hoover. “The Crimson Tide, coming off a surreal loss to rival Auburn that knocked it out of the national title game, didn’t give a flip about being in the Consolation Bowl.”

It’s early, but there are few grumblings in Norman – and Stoops knows it. Why else would he make major changes to his coaching staff, including the dismissal of six-year offensive coordinator Jay Norvell? Because he knows things have to change, and fast.

This could be completely overblown, but Stoops sure has made a name for himself over the last few years with his comments on the depth of the SEC, his lack of Top 10 recruiting classes, and the perception that he can’t win – or compete – against quality competition. (It also doesn’t help that Oklahoma has lost to an unranked opponent five out of the last six seasons.)

“Oklahoma football has come to this. Each week this season, OU was favored by Las Vegas oddsmakers to win. And because they weren’t able to come up with plays — you know, interceptions returned for touchdowns, chip-shot field goals, tackles — they lost five games,” wrote Hoover. “Stoops is a young 54. The game hasn’t passed him by. But this year, thanks to a $700,000 appreciation bonus just for staying, he’ll make $5.4 million. … Clearly he’s done all he can do as head football coach at Oklahoma.”

If Oklahoma suffers another disappointing outcome in 2015 – like losing on the road to Tennessee or failing to beat Baylor for the fourth time in five years – then 2016 could be circled as the “make-or-break” campaign for Stoops and Co.

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