Watching the Oklahoma Sooners feels like someone is setting you up.
You ever get a friend request on Facebook from a wildly gorgeous individual that you share no mutual friends with whatsoever? Your brain tells you, “Bruh, it’s spam. Move on nothing to see here.” But then your phallic regions be like, “Bruh, shoot your shot. She’s clearly of multiple ethnicities that you cannot immediately discern. Exotic is the new wave, capture this glory as your personal conquest.” So you accept the friend request, nervously. Then suddenly, a ping occurs in your messenger. “Hi!” Your new friend named Carli Nicolette Vanderbilt exclaims quickly. It startles you, as you reply “what up” trying to be as chill as the internet will allow. The immediate flirtations seem too good to be true, but you’ve been doing push-ups and you’ve mastered how to make grilled cheese sandwiches without burning the bread completely. You’re on your way up. This is your time to flourish. Things go swimmingly for about seven minutes, you’re ready to tell the homies that you found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. You’ll name your kids Cardi and Ezekiel, and you’ll move to Miami because that’s where all the ballers who master grilled cheese sandwiches live. Then reality hits you that this was all a rouse.
its hurts! haha, got somethig pierced last night, cant showz on here but come view my profile:) omg let me know what you think (insert smutty URL here)
Maybe it was the typos. Maybe it was the random use of z at the end of a word that doesn’t need a z. Maybe it’s a misplaced emoticon without the proper spacing. Or yanno, the smutty URL. However, you quickly realize that once again you were setup and you should’ve known better.
This is what life has been like with Mike Stoops as the defensive coordinator of the Oklahoma Sooners since 2012.
Here’s some notable bits of information regarding the Oklahoma Sooners defense since Mike Stoops was reinstalled as the defensive coordinator by his big brother Bob back in 2012. Let’s start with OU’s rankings in total defense per game since the 2012 campaign. (H/T to Crimson and Cream Machine)
- 2012: 65th
- 2013: 20th
- 2014: 52nd
- 2015: 39th
- 2016: 82nd
- 2017: 44th
Here’s a list of defensive players recruited on defense by Oklahoma who ranked as a five-star recruit since 2012.
- Caleb Kelly, LB, 2016
Here’s a list of defensive players from Oklahoma who were drafted in the first round since 2012.
Here’s a list of moments where Oklahoma’s defense was absolutely lit on fire since 2012.
- November 17, 2012: Tavon Austin set a school record with 344 yards rushing on 21 carries (16.4 yards per carry), 4 catches for 82 yards, 8 kick returns for 146 yards to give him 572 all-purpose yards. Austin came just 8 yards from breaking the NCAA record for all-purpose yards in a single game.
- January 4, 2013: Johnny Manziel reminds the world why he won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman at the Cotton Bowl by throwing for 287 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 229 yards (bowl record) and two touchdowns.
- October 12, 2013: Oklahoma allowed an eventual 8-win Texas Longhorns team to have two rushers (Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown) to each rush for 120+ yards in a 36-20 loss in the Red River Shootout.
- November 8, 2014: Baylor walks into Norman and proceeds to be rude as hell by rushing for five touchdowns while also having their quarterback Bryce Petty throw for 387 yards in a 48-14 rout of the Oklahoma Sooners.
- December 29, 2014: The Russell Athletic Bowl turned into Brent Venables laughing in the face of Bob Stoops for choosing his brother over him as defensive coordinator. The Clemson Tigers ravaged OU with nine tackles-for-loss, three interceptions and two forced fumbles while holding Oklahoma to six points. Clemson scored 40. Brent > Mike.
- October 22, 2016: The Texas Tech Red Raiders gained 854 yards and scored 59 points on the Sooners defense. Patrick Mahomes accounted for 819 of those yards and 49 of those points (734 yards passing along with five passing touchdowns, plus 85 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns). Somehow, OU won 66-59.
- November 19, 2016: West Virginia’s Justin Crawford would rush for 331 yards on 24 carries (third-most in Mountaineers history) against Oklahoma in a 56-28 win for the Sooners.
- October 7, 2017: The Iowa State Cyclones gashed the Sooners defense with passing plays all over the field with their third-string quarterback to the tune of 57, 54, 46, 35 and 28 yards respectively. That resulted in a 38-31 upset of the No. 3 ranked team in the country in a game where Bestonlinesportsbooks.info had the Sooners as -30.5 favorites.
This story isn’t so much about Mike Stoops as it is about Lincoln Riley. Let it forever be stated that if any program has consistently identified emerging young talent to lead the next generation, it’s OU. When Bob Stoops was hired, he was “old” compared other Sooner greats at their hiring. He was 39. Barry Switzer, Chuck Fairbanks, and Bud Wilkinson were all in their 30s as well at the time of their hirings. Those are all the four greatest coaches in Oklahoma history since Henry Ford invented the 40-hour work week in 1926. What does this have to do with Riley?
It means that he must make this program his own, and cut ties with the previous era.
In Silicon Valley there’s a famous phrase in regards to productivity. It doesn’t matter whether you succeed or fail, but do it quickly so you can learn from it and iterate accordingly. Riley will have plenty of opportunities to succeed and fail, but filtering out the noise and owning the process will truly stamp what his impact is for the Oklahoma Sooners. There’s no doubt that he’s an incredible play-caller with an ability to get the most out of his offense. However, OU’s defense is a Rubix cube with the previous regime’s selection still in charge and still unable to solve it.
It makes sense that Riley would have some trepidation in firing his predecessor’s brother, especially since his predecessor is the one who gave him the reins to his offense back in 2015 in the first place. It would been different if Bob Stoops was taking over for Switzer with his brother Donnie was still running the wishbone, maybe Bob’s start would’ve begun differently. That wasn’t the case for Bob, and as such his eye for finding offensive masterminds has been nothing short of phenomenal. Mike Leach (Texas Tech/Washington State), Mark Mangino (Kansas), Chuck Long (San Diego State), Kevin Sumlin (Houston/Texas A&M), Kevin Wilson (Indiana) and Riley (OU) have all ascended to head coaching roles under Stoops. That knighthood is something to be appreciated, as Bob’s calling card was to find offensive guys who gave him the most trouble as a coach.
For Riley, taking a page out of Bob’s playbook could be key, as identifying a new right-hand man who can challenge your way of thinking but can relate to you generationally along with your players. Mike Stoops is 21 years Riley’s senior and nearly 35 years older than most of the players, and although age is not a determinant of success as a coach, it certainly couldn’t hurt as a changed variable moving forward. Oh by the way, Mike Stoops was 37 when he was installed as OU’s defensive coordinator.
Riley must find not only an upgrade at defensive coordinator, but also someone to be his partner-in-crime, something Bob would recognize and likely appreciate. It’s the same thing Steve Spurrier had to do when he hired a soon-to-be 36 year old Bob back in 1996 as the defensive coordinator of the Florida Gators.
Here’s the thing about spam on the internet, you can never totally escape it. You’ll always get that rouge friend request from a good looking person you’ve never encountered before in life. You’ll always get those random pop-ups that you’re not sure where they come from. Twitter bots will follow you on occasion, you will receive an email from a prince overseas who must wire you 34 million dollars so it can be hidden from the federales. This is life on the internet, and frankly, what would life be without it? However, you learn to adjust and eventually can navigate spam with no issue.
Bob Stoops is an absolute gem who will go down as arguably one of the most underappreciated coaches of his era. Mike Stoops is a flawed defensive coach who will go down as the coach who could inspire when positioned as an underdog, and the coach who could give away record-setting performances like candy at Halloween. This is Lincoln Riley’s team now, and it’s time to live your best life, with the spam blockers setup accordingly.
Eddie Maisonet is the founder and editor emeritus of The Sports Fan Journal. Currently, he serves as an associate editor for ESPN.com. He is an unabashed Russell Westbrook and Barry Switzer apologist, owns over 100 fitteds and snapbacks, and lives by Reggie Jackson’s famous quote, “I am the straw that stirs the drink.”