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Stoops' success helps put Sooners in league of their own



Contrary to popular belief, at least among Oklahoma football fans, Bob Stoops is a mere mortal. He is flesh and bone, and bleeds Sooner crimson.

Any stories being circulated about the coach's ability to walk on water have been exaggerated. A couple of bowl loses in recent years are proof of that.


But Stoops, in his 10th season at OU, is as competitive as they come.

He is driven to succeed and he is without a doubt one of the best college football coaches on the planet. The evidence behind that fact is overwhelming.

Just look at last Saturday's contest in Seattle, a 55-14 romp over Washington. It was the 122nd game of Stoops' head coaching career " all at OU " and it produced his 100th victory. That ties him with Penn State legend Joe Paterno as the 10th fastest coach to reach that milestone.

It also calculates into an .820 winning percentage.

Amazingly enough, that winning percentage only ranks as the third-best all-time at Oklahoma, behind both Barry Switzer (.837) and Bud Wilkinson (.826). If the Sooners, as many believe they will, go undefeated this season and win the national title, Stoops would move ahead of Wilkinson at .834.

But there are still 11 games left this fall and lots of hurdles to be met before anyone starts talking seriously about national titles.

Stoops reaching the 100-win plateau makes the University of Oklahoma the only school to have four different coaches with at least 100 career victories " Switzer (157-29-4), Wilkinson (145-29-4) and Bennie Owen (122-54-16)

As for picking up his 100th win, Stoops redirected most of the attention to his surrounding cast, including the OU administration, his assistant coaches and his players.

"I'm not concerned with that. I'm just glad to win one more this week," said Stoops after the game.

While Stoops was more focused on the Sooners' successful road trip to the Pacific Northwest, his track record at OU should get the credit it deserves. Let's face it, the only active coach to reach 100 wins as quickly is the legendary Paterno.

The company at the top doesn't get much better than that. And there is little doubt Stoops' belongs along-side the greats who have coached at this level.

In his first nine seasons as a head coach, he guided the Sooners to five Big 12 Conference titles and one national championship. More importantly than that, he breathed life back into OU football and rejuvenated its fan base beyond anyone's imagination.

As for the recent bowl disappointments, well the truth is, all programs have their disappointments. It's part of the game. It's called football.

No one hates to lose more than Bob Stoops. You can bet he's lost his share of sleep over those games.

But those losses will not define his career. Stoops is too smart and too talented to let that happen. He'll have the Sooners back on top, sooner than later. Maybe this coming January.

So OU has hit a little bowl slump. So what? It happens to the best of them.

During one stretch of Bear Bryant's legendary career at Alabama, his teams failed to win a bowl game eight straight seasons. That's right, the Crimson Tide went 0-7-1 in the postseason from 1968-75.

You can imagine how 'Bama fans were fit to be tied. They were certain the game had passed Bryant by and even joked how he couldn't win the big games any longer.

But as football fans know, Bear Bryant went on to win two more national titles at Alabama over the next seven seasons.

Oklahoma will win its share of bowl games " make that big BCS bowl games " under Stoops in the coming months and years.

Take it to the bank. "Jay C. Upchurch


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