Opinion: The 2014 Oklahoma Sooners — Different Team, Same Story


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“We already have six national championships. Now we have 7. We play well in the Orange Bowl. You can’t say ‘Well, that was then. This is now.’ That’s Oklahoma Football.”

Those are the words Oklahoma Sooners coach Bob Stoops said after he led his 2000 Sooners to a 13-2 victory over Florida State in the Orange Bowl National Championship. It was his second season and Sooners fans were elated with the future of Oklahoma football with Stoops as coach after that game. Many were expecting many more national championships under Stoops.

That was 14 years ago.

Oklahoma is still with only one national title since Stoops was hired, although they have appeared in three more title games. It seems like every year, Oklahoma is expected to compete for and win a national championship. And they do compete. But there is always that one game that Oklahoma comes out flat in and loses, either ending the national title hopes or actually losing the national game.

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This season, that game may have happened Saturday afternoon in Forth Worth. The Sooners were ranked #4 in the country with a chance to possibly jump to #1 with #2 Oregon, #3 Alabama, and #6 Texas A&M all losing. Oklahoma could not take advantage, losing to the 25th-ranked TCU Horned Frogs, 37-33.

Oklahoma did not look like a top 5 team Saturday. The offense was stagnant at best, the defense couldn’t get off the field on 3rd down, the defensive line couldn’t get to Trevone Boykin, Trevor Knight could not hit water if he was in a boat, and even Samaje Perine struggled on many runs. This team was exposed and once again, was overhyped.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Bob Stoops and this is not an article meant to diminish what he has accomplished. The guy has the above-mentioned national championship, eight Big 12 Championships, has coached two Heisman Trophy winners and two runners-up, has the best winning percentage and most wins since he was hired, and has played in the most and won every BCS Bowl. Stoops is definitely the right man for the job and I wouldn’t want any other coach. I hope Stoops stays for many more years and retires in Norman in the far future.

But Sooners fans want more. It’s been 14 long years since Oklahoma ended the season with a crystal ball and #1 ranking. The team has made it three other times, but has played poorly in each of those three. I’m personally tired of hearing almost every off-season about this team being ‘the best Stoops has ever had” or that ” the defense should be the best in the country” or “Oklahoma finally has a QB that can lead them to the long awaited national title.”

But it doesn’t happen. Today, the defense looked overrated, the defensive line couldn’t do anything, the play-calling was absolutely atrocious, and Knight was terrible in the second half throwing the ball. All of this after Oklahoma was picked by many to be national champions and supposedly be the best teams Sooners fans have seen.

I’m still not counting out the team’s chances. If they can win out, and hope TCU drops a game or two, I think OU can definitely be back in the playoff race. But the question is: Can they win the rest of the games? Playing like they did today, Baylor will have a lot of fun with OU’s secondary, and Kansas State and Oklahoma State will give Oklahoma trouble.

The play-calling obviously needs to improve. Why did Oklahoma run a QB draw on 3rd down with the time running with 70 yards to go? Why did Oklahoma use a pistol formation on the 4th and 1 at the end instead of a simple goal line formation? Why is Knight not being allowed to keep more options? Why did Oklahoma throw it three straight times late in the game, that led to a three-and-out? I love Josh Heupel for what he did as the Oklahoma QB from 1999-2000, but his time as offensive coordinator is done. Stoops should let Jay Norvell take over play-calling duties and have Heupel work exclusively with the quarterbacks again.

Mike Stoops also has a lot of work to do with the defense. The secondary was absolutely torched all game. Something needs to be done with that secondary. West Virginia exposed them two weeks ago and TCU did the same today. The defense also gives up too many 3rd down conversions. TCU was 10/18 on 3rd down. That’s unacceptable for a championship team. Great teams stop offenses on all three downs, not just two.

At the end of the day, I’m still proud to be an Oklahoma Sooners fan. Great fan-base with a class-act and legendary coach. But I also want to see more. Because I know the team is capable of so much more. I was four years old on that day when Stoops said that above-mentioned quote. I’m 18 now. I want to be able to actually celebrate a national championship and watch us win one with me actually cheering for the team, not just watching it on YouTube on days like today. Like I said, the season’s not over yet. I can still have my dream come true if this team can get their act together and play much better football that they’re capable of. I know they can.

I can’t wait to win a national title and look back on all the times we’ve failed to win one and say “That was then and this is now. Because that’s Oklahoma Football.”