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Will 2011 Mark The Return Of "Big Game Bob"?

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During the 2000 season Bob Stoops did something unimaginable when his Sooners beat #11 Texas, #2 Kansas State and #1 Nebraska in consecutive weeks by a combined score of 135-59. Despite winning the Big 12 championship and boasting a 12-0 record the majority of the country expected Oklahoma to lose to Bobby Bowden and his Florida State Seminoles in an Orange Bowl game that would decide the national championship. Stoops and company won 13-2 and the next legendary coach of the Sooners had emerged. 

Over the next year Oklahoma beat Arkansas 10-3 in the Cotton Bowl and then the following year (2002) Stoops beat Washington State 34-14 to win the Rose Bowl. In three seasons Stoops had won two Big 12 championships, three bowl games, two BCS bowls and a national championship. Before too long the name "Big Game Bob" had been given to Stoops as he had developed the habit of winning games that were in the national spotlight. Then the 2003 season rolled around and, with Stoops at the height of his popularity, the unthinkable happened. 

Behind the arm of Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jason White Oklahoma ran through their opponents at an amazing pace. Only one team played the Sooners to within a touchdown during the regular season and went wire to wire ranked #1 during the regular season. Bob Stoops destroyed Texas that year by a final score of 65-13, blew out A&M 77-0 and pasted Oklahoma State 52-9. A gutsy trick play against Alabama even furthered Stoops legendary status and helped establish him as the most coveted coach in America. 

The Sooners were heavy favorites to win the Big 12 championship and make an appearance in the Sugar Bowl to play for another national championship. A stunned crowd watched in disbelief as the Kansas State Wildcats completely destroyed Oklahoma in the conference championship game but despite the loss the Sooners were still bound for New Orleans. Oklahoma lost the Sugar Bowl to LSU and for the first time since 1999 Bob Stoops had lost two games in a row. 

Even worse for Stoops was that the Sugar Bowl would mark the first of five consecutive BCS bowl losses with three of them being championship games. Suddenly the title of "Big Game Bob" didn't stick anymore according to the national perspective. 

Oklahoma had become the team everyone loved to hate. "An embarrassment to the Big 12!" is what Texas fans would declare. It appeared that the only "big game" that mattered was the final one and Stoops seemed cursed when LSU, USC, Boise State, West Virginia and Florida stole his post season glory. During that span guys like Urban Myer, Nick Saban and (gulp) even Les Miles became more sought after than Stoops. 

The notion that losing a BCS bowl game or championship game makes you less of a coach is about as crazy as thinking that having a cow for a mascot is really cool. In fact, even Texas learned the hard way that you just don't win every time when they were pounded by Alabama in the 2009 BCS championship game. They followed up their BCS loss by doing something Bob Stoops has never done in his career, failing to become bowl eligible the next season. 

Going into the 2010 season Stoops was 6-5 against Texas, 9-2 against Oklahoma State, 34-16 against ranked opponents and had won six Big 12 conference championships. That's a lot of big games! Those who feel that Bob Stoops has lost the ability to win a big game are either turning a blind eye or ignorant to what a big game actually is.

The 2010 season put Stoops back on top in the Big 12 conference. His Sooners beat Texas for the seventh time in the last eleven meetings, knocked Oklahoma State out of the Big 12 South and crushed Nebraska's hopes of leaving the conference having won the final championship game the Big 12 would have. More importantly they crushed Connecticut 48-20 in the Fiesta Bowl to end the BCS losing streak.

Everything seems to be going right for Bob Stoops once again. His confidence level is up and his swagger is back. We even saw the attempts of executing the trick plays that once made him so popular last season. He'll enter the 2011 season with a third year quarterback, an All-American receiver and an experienced defense. The Sooners will be a top five program to start the season and if OU leaves Tallahassee 2-0 the national talking heads will declare that "Big Game Bob" is back. However, pointing to the stats a few paragraphs up, I'll tell you that he never left.