There's one undeniable fact about the state of Oklahoma...its windy! Seldom does a day go by without the "wind sweeping down the plains" and some times it blows with enough velocity that it changes the landscape. This is what's currently taking place with OU football. Be it ever so subtle or the violent force of an F5 tornado the winds of change have got to sweep through the football facilities in Norman...metaphorically speaking.
Coaching Staff - Despite the fact that there has been no coaching changes (or even a hint of one) the rumors are still flying. Obviously Mike Stoops is a player but how much of one we do not know. If you listen to the rumor mill then he's already purchased a home somewhere around Norman. I would say that every day that passes without him taking a job at an Ohio State or Nebraska is a good day for his chances of landing back on the Oklahoma coaching staff. The question though is, who drops from the staff to add him? Unless Brent Venables takes a job somewhere else, again less likely with each passing day, he's going to remain on the coaching staff. That makes defensive backs coach Willie Martinez the most likely to be the goat if Mike Stoops is to return. Mike has a history in coaching the secondary and would be able to co-exist with Venables as he has a history there as well. Martinez has no history with Bob Stoops at all other than his two years served in Norman. Look for that to possibly be the in for Mike Stoops if he's going to come back.
Offensively it became obvious that Josh Heupel still has some learning to in both game planning and play calling. His job is still safe but that doesn't stop the rumor mill at all. Mark Mangino is still floating around and has a history with the program. They may have hated him at Kansas but he was loved at OU and could certainly help put an offensive game plan together as well as have an influence on the play calling.. Again the problem becomes one of who would leave to create a space for him. The most likely candidates would gave to be Bruce Kittle or James Patton. In my opinion this is a much bigger stretch than Mike Stoops.
Philosophy - More and more fans are embracing the possibility that there will be absolutely no changes to the coaching staff at all. To be honest, that becomes a greater possibility every day. However, if the staff remains the same you can almost guarantee the offensive and defensive philosophies won't.
Kevin Wilson mastered the spread offensive attack at Oklahoma in 2008 with Sam Bradford and since then the Sooners have been trying to reinvent the wheel. Opposing defenses have caught on and have made the spread attack less effective. Topping it off the Sooner offense has lost balance which makes it just a touch easier for a defense that can be physical with OU's receivers and bring pressure on the quarterback.
Oklahoma ran the ball from a spread attack with Quentin Griffin and did it almost to perfection. They ran from the I-Formation with dominance with Adrian Peterson while Jason White threw the ball all over the field. DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown each ran for over 1,000 yards in 2008 while Sam Bradford was setting records (along with the rest of the Sooner offense) on his way to a Heisman. So why can't/won't the Sooners run the ball now?
The offense has lost the ability to be physical and powerful. Its painfully obvious that they've become finesse and philosophy has more to do with it than anything else. Look for that to change.
On the defensive side of the ball its the same thing. Intensity, nattiness and just being downright mean aren't there. Oklahoma has sold out for speed and they've lost the power. A three man front means that on most occasions pressure can only get into the backfield if there is a blitz. What happened to the days of Torrance Marshall telling Chris Weinke that he was going to hurt him at the coin toss and then bringing the pain throughout the game? What happened to receivers being afraid to catch the ball across the middle out of fear that Roy Williams would separate their head from their body?
The progression of the spread offense has brought about the necessity of hybrid linebackers/safeties but, as with the offense, it doesn't mean that is what they have to be limited to. Especially when the safeties continually struggle with the play-action. With or without Mike Stoops on board this spring will tell us a lot in regards to what the Sooners will do to shore up the defensive shortcomings that have plagued them. It has to start with the philosophy!
On Field Personnel - This team is going to look different on the field next year. There are several players in the wings who have been waiting to burst out in key roles. There will be new faces that come in the form of true freshmen and JUCO transfers that will make immediate impacts. Exactly who and where these new faces will be appearing remains to be seen but the key to success won't be in talent as much as it is in chemistry. The 2011 Sooners had all the talent to make a championship run but the chemistry wasn't there and ultimately led to the downfall.