The Oklahoma Sooners have built themselves a form of a football dynasty under Bob Stoops, at least in the Big XII Conference. With eight titles (if you count the shared title with the Kansas St. Wildcats of 2012) since the birth of the conference in 1996, it is hard to argue the point. Due to the success since the turn of the century, fans expect the university to compete for championships each and every year in this major revenue sport. As of late, a majority of the die hard population have grown less accepting of yet another conference championship and Stoops recognizes it.
"What's ever good enough? Nothing, unless you win them all. People get bored with just winning the Big 12 championship. You've gotta win the national championship." - Bob Stoops (ESPN)
Fact of the matter is, the first goal of every season must be to win the conference. Without it, the likelihood of landing yourself in the National Title picture remains slim to none. Sure, the other nine teams in the Big XII may be satisfied if the odds were in their favor but this is Oklahoma for crying out loud, not __________________ (insert any other Big XII School here).
In my opinion, the biggest concern remains the defensive front. Time and time again, college football fans across the nation are
treated forced to watch the SEC and a defensive heavy weight hoist the crystal ball.
After giving up 193 rushing yards per game to land the Sooners at ninth in the conference as well as losses to Kansas St., the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and dare I say it...the Texas A&M Aggies something had to give and give something did. The defensive coaching staff was retooled while Mike Stoops came to the realization that an overstocked secondary was not the answer Oklahoma had been looking for.
"The Sooners had one less guy in the box about 80 percent of the time as a way to combat pass-happy Big 12 offenses. This worked for a while, but eventually the good offenses took advantage. OU didn't play the league's best until late in the season, causing a false sense of security." - Mike Stoops (CBS)
It has been known for some time now that Mike Stoops elected to stay in a base 4-3 defense while mixing in 3-4 looks every now and then. However, the Oregon Ducks may have cracked to code by using speed to counteract big offensive and defensive lines. Could Oklahoma be headed down the same path?
Jerry Montgomery was added to the coaching staff as the defensive line coach and has a reputation for being a great recruiter. Regardless, the shift seems to have already begun as the defensive ends weigh in at 248 on average and I would expect Montgomery to continue to recruit players with speed and build them to a solid 240lbs coming off the edge.
While OU hasn't really been in the National Title talks past October and certainly hasn't played for one since 2008 brings about many questions. Heck, Oklahoma may not be the favorite to win the conference heading into 2013. Yet, trends are a cyclical thing. One year it is speed and the next, size and physicality. This season will tell if the Oklahoma Sooners are headed in the right direction when it comes to moving forward and reliving the success of the early 2000's.
"The Sooners could start the season outside the Top 15 in the rankings for the first time since 2000. Of course OU emerged out of nowhere to win the school's seventh -- and Stoops' only -- national title that season." - Jake Trotter