Big 12 Spotlight: Is Bob Stoops Still The Man?

By Zach Pugh
Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

The Oklahoma Sooners (5-2, 3-1) sit at No.12 in the BCS rankings and while there’s plenty of teams that would love to be in their place, the feeling in Norman should be one of disappointment. Not long ago, before the season began the Sooners, along with the West Virginia Mountaineers, were favorites to win the Big 12, but now the Sooners’ post season destiny is out of their hands. The chance of a conference title and Fiesta Bowl berth are not gone by any means, but OU did themselves no favors losing to the Kansas State Wildcats.

The loss to K-State was part of a bigger issue Oklahoma has had this season. The close game has caused two losses for the crimson and cream, but the teams the losses have come against, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Kansas State, have also been great at closing out the close games. The cliché is of course, don’t turn the ball over and don’t make mistakes when you’re involved in a tight match-up, however boring the statement might be, it proves to be true every week. So, is the inability to close out games a reflection of lack of effort or coaching?

The resume of Bob Stoops does have some impressive accolades. 32 All-Americans, two Heisman Trophy winners, seven Big 12 championships and a BCS championship to go along with 144 wins in 14 and a half seasons. they’ve been bowl eligible every year Stoops has been the man in charge. It’s not as though Oklahoma has been a bad team under Stoops, but his record in the post season is mediocre. 3-5 in BCS games and 7-6 in bowl games altogether.

This is not to suggest Stoops should be on his way out, however, if you’re looking for a reason his team hasn’t won a national championship since 2001, look no further than the struggle to buckle down and win the close games. Since 2007, OU has lost all 15 games when trailing in the fourth quarter. The story early in the Bob Stoops era was much different as the Sooners were 28-9 in games where the margin was single digits in the fourth quarter.

It’s frustrating to witness your favorite team have consecutive losing seasons, but it’s also equally frustrating to watch your team fall short of expectations every year. Despite winning 10 or more games five of the last six years the Sooners have fallen short of a national championship. Is it crazy to question whether Stoops can lead OU back to a national title?

One of the most puzzling struggles this season has been quarterback Landry Jones. The lack of trust Jones displayed in his receivers early on made him the great enigma to pro scouts. Stoops has done everything he can to give Jones confidence and has defended him at every turn. Will fans put blame on Stoops and the coaching staff for Jones’ inconsistent play?

Bob Stoops has done wonders for the program in his tenure. He has kept the Sooners around the top of the Big 12 and keeps the expectation level high in Norman. However, how long until fans begin to get tired of coming up just short of a national championship run?

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