College football is merciless, especially for coaches; Winning games is expected, losing is unacceptable. Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops knows as well as anyone that in some cases, winning isn’t even enough.
Coach Stoops was undisputedly a top-3 coach in college football from 2000-2009. But as the years have gone on, some of his critics have pointed out that Stoops no longer wins “big games”, and that he has lost his touch. Stoops earned the nickname “Big Game Bob Stoops” for a string of big wins early in his career at Oklahoma. But over recent years, that nickname was routinely mocked, most notably after OU lost in the College Football Playoff to Clemson in 2015.
— Bill Zeluchie (@bz1278) January 1, 2016
Big Game Bob again goes quietly into the night.
— Mr. J. Hale (@GreenwaveVol) January 1, 2016
Did “Big Game Bob” Get Out Coached?…..Again!…Don’t Know!…But,He Laid Another Egg!…For Sure! pic.twitter.com/A3utawY8wM
— BIG PAULIE (@bigpaulierules) January 1, 2016
But when you actually analyze the numbers, is it possible that a coach who has won more games than any other coach in his first 17 seasons could be underrated?
When you look at Stoops’ resume it still jumps off the page as being a top-3 resume in the college football-coaching world. He hit for the cycle in the BCS games, has won 10 conference titles, and a national championship, while appearing in the College Football Playoff or BCS title game on 4 other occasions. Urban Meyer and Nick Saban are the only active coaches that have made a greater impact on the game in the last several seasons. But I bet if you were to take a generic polling of the “best coaches in college football” most pundits wouldn’t even have Stoops in their top 5.
Let’s take a look at just this decade’s accolades for Bob Stoops (2010-present): Stoops has a record of 73-19, a winning percentage of .793, 4 conference champions, and 3 BCS/New Year’s 6 wins (2 Sugar, 1 Fiesta). Also, Oklahoma has finished in the top 5 in the country 4 times during this stretch. The Sooners have defeated 11 top-10 opponents, and 21 ranked opponents.
In other words, Coach Stoops has been coming up big in several meaningful games during the “weaker” part of his tenure. Since 2010, Oklahoma has the 5th most wins during this stretch, while also being ranked among the top in major bowl wins and conference championships. The truth, is Bob Stoops hasn’t lost his touch.
Mack Brown was a great coach, as was Bobby Bowden, but these coaches ended up having a massive downtrend at the end of their respective careers. Neither coach adapted well to the rapidly changing landscape across college football. But unlike those two, Stoops has not slipped up and has kept pace with how the sports, and recruiting landscape, are being altered.
A college football head coach doesn’t just have to know X’s and O’s, he needs to be able to recruit, and manage his coaching staff. Bob Stoops continues to adjust in the recruiting game, as well as upgrade his staff, and as such OU continues to remain elite. Oklahoma has started branching out into other recruiting areas, most notably California, over the past several years, where he’s landed top recruits, including Joe Mixon and Caleb Kelly. Stoops is still relying heavily on Texas, but knows that taking Oklahoma “national” in its recruiting approach can be a big benefit for the program as it continues facing increased competition in the Lone Star State.
Occasionally OU fans may get upset with Stoops, but they are being spoiled. Bob Stoops is a surefire, without-a-doubt Hall of Famer. He is the 3rd best active coach in college football, he has a top program who is unafraid to challenge anyone, anywhere, and his resume speaks for itself.
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