The most irritating I hear from Sooner fans and haters alike is that Bob Stoops is overrated and that the name "Big Game Bob" came way too prematurely. Well let's think about that for a minute. Since taking over the OU football program in 1999 Stoops' Troops have averaged 11 wins to just two losses per season. He's piled up 5 Big 12 Championships (more than any coach in the conference) and has made 6 BCS bowl game appearances (again more than any coach in the conference).
However four consecutive BCS Bowl losses have fans questioning Coach Stoops' merit and that is what irks me the most. Not the fact that OU has suffered consecutive BCS losses to LSU, USC, Boise State and West Virginia but because a small minority of the fan base want to know what's wrong with the coach and some (the mentally unstable) have even suggested it might be time for a change.
I'm not naïve enough to say that the coaching staff doesn't need to look at how they are preparing for bowl games but I think there is a different issue here. Sit back get a tall glass of ice tea and let this sink in for a minute. OU's coach hasn't changed as much as the fan's expectations have! As Sooner fans we are one of the most radical fan bases in all of college football and when a coach gives us a BCS Championship in just his second season and then a Rose Bowl win in his fourth to end a string of three consecutive bowl wins we absolutely go nuts!
In our mind every game should be a win and losing is simply unacceptable. When we adopt that mentality a loss can quickly overshadow the accomplishments of the season as a whole. Let's look at 2007 as our most recent example. The season ended in disaster with the 48-28 loss to West Virginia. That was a bad loss in a big game and there was plenty of blame to go around but if we are going to put sole responsibility on the shoulders of the coaches then we have to give them full credit for getting the team there.
Was the Miami game in Norman not a big game? We all thought it was going in but after OU dismantled the Hurricanes 51-13 many fans chose to take credit away from the Sooners and say that Miami wasn't a quality opponent anymore. I wonder if they'll be thinking the same thing when the Sooners return the trip to South Florida?
What about the Texas game? Coming off a 27-24 loss to Colorado in the first conference game of the season it was do or die for the Sooners going into the Cotton Bowl. Bob Stoops put Mack Brown back in his place with a 28-21 win over the Longhorns to win for the 6th time in 8 years and pave the way for another South Division Title.
The next week Missouri came to town in a match-up that most people around the country were rightly calling a preview of the conference championship game. Wasn't that game big? OU established itself as the best team in the conference with a 41-31 win over the Tigers.
How about Bedlam? Don't tell me that isn't a big game because it would be huge if the Sooners lost it. You can't have it both ways! Sooners run over the Cowboys 49-17!
Then there was Oklahoma's biggest game in 2007. No, not the Fiesta Bowl. I'm talking about the Big 12 Championship Game. It was a rematch against Missouri and all the talk coming from the Tigers was that the first game in Norman was a fluke. Missouri was the #1 team in the country and Oklahoma cruised to their second consecutive conference championship (first Big 12 team to ever do so) with a 38-17 win.
Then they go to Glendale with three starters on defense and two of their main offensive weapons missing and lose to the Big East Champions. It begs the question, what did OU really lose that night? They didn't lose the Big 12 Championship. They didn't lose to the number one team in the country. They didn't even lose the biggest game of the season. In the end there was nothing at stake and all they really lost was the Fiesta Bowl to a very good team. I would even challenge that the Colorado and Texas Tech losses were worse.
Bob Stoops has elevated the Oklahoma football program back to the point where they are playing the best teams in the country in post-season bowl games. When you reach that point you run the risk of facing teams that are better than you. Should the reputation of a coach be tarnished for that? After all it does take a big game coach to get you there!