Big 12 Sports Articles

HCS Op-Ed: Family Matters Holding Oklahoma Defense Back

If you thought that the first four losses for Oklahoma were flukes… you were proven wrong yesterday in the Russell Athletic Bowl against Clemson.

Do I even need to talk about the actual game?

Honestly, the 40-6 loss is irrelevant. This season is over and hopefully in the back of the minds’ of Sooners fans coast to coast. Who was that team? Who cares. Moving forward is the only agenda.

While he has had one worse season statistically (7-5 his inaugural year), this was the worst season in the Bob Stoops era. For one, the defense finished giving up an atrocious 382.6 yards a game and 3,591 passing yards for the year. Another atrocity was the quarterback play; Sooner quarterbacks threw only 16 touchdown passes this season, along with 13 total interceptions. Oklahoma has never, ever lacked quarterback play under Bob Stoops, until this season.

Not just the Russell Athletic Bowl, but the entire 2014 season, is a sign that the football dynasty that was the University of Oklahoma is disappearing. Also, if you’re one of those fans who was naïve enough to think changes didn’t have to be made to the coaching staff, you were proven wrong again.

This may not be the end of the Bob Stoops era, but if the OU athletic department were smart, they would realize that it needs to be the end of the Mike Stoops era. Mike, Bob’s brother, coached the defense with Brent Venables (now Clemson DC) from 1999-2003 and then left to become the head coach of the University of Arizona. He was rehired after the 2011 season, and was temporarily named co-defensive coordinator with Venables. Soon after the announcement, Venables skipped town to Clemson. I’m sure the OU athletic department is rethinking Venables’ departure, as he led Clemson to the FBS’s best defense this season. Mike Stoops’ defense gave up 30 or more points in 7 games in 2014.

Not only has Mike Stoops been a less than accommodating coach at OU, he has never been able to coach up a great team. In 8 seasons as head coach of Arizona, he finished with a 41-50 record with only 3 winning seasons and one bowl win. Stoops has never had, and does not have it in him to coach up a great team.

Another call to action around the Sooner fan base is the firing of the offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, a call that I do not agree with. Even with the horrible quarterback play, the Sooners managed to score 30 or more points in all but the Baylor and Clemson games this season, in which they scored 20 combined. Mix the Sooners’ powerful rushing attack with a competent quarterback (ahem, Baker Mayfield) and it could mean devastation for opposing defenses next season.

In his most recent 3-season Oklahoma tenure, Mike Stoops’ defenses have given up an average of 377.1 yards per game. This is a mark that cannot and should not stand going forward for the University of Oklahoma football program. Hopefully the University can put aside the family business and make the necessary change to get the defense back on track. That’s the first step to help return the program to national prowess once again.


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