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Are changes on the horizon for OU football? » OU & OSU Sports » MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

NORMAN – Change is flux. It is a constant. Seeking proof? Look no further than the sports page. Albert Pujols is an Angel, Kansas went big, quite literally, by hiring Charlie Weiss to succeed Turner Gill, and if you have time to keep up with all the rumors, Chris Paul could be in Los Angeles, New York or New Orleans for the coming NBA season. Or, maybe just the Lakers, for Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, with Houston involved somehow. Really, things are changing by the minute. Meanwhile, all’s quiet on the Sooner front. It’s to be expected. It is not an easy silence. It is full of anticipation even if nobody has any idea of what. Because nothing may be so fascinating and at the same time less understood than the mind of Bob Stoops. By general agreement, he is a coaching genius, which itself a fascinating and hard to understand state of being. It is a job that requires certainty and flexibility, a relentless pursuit of discipline, yet without alienating those under direction. Always, Stoops’ presence reflects complete control. Yet what is interesting between now and the Insight Bowl, and then beyond all the way to the beginning of spring practice, is the whatever path Stoops will choose to take heading from one season to another. Will it be the path of one who’s certain it’s all under control, or will it be a path that screams admittance that something is actually quite broken? Travis Lewis proclaimed “national title or bust,” yet the Sooners lost three games, one of them with absolutely no rational explanation against a bad Texas Tech team, one of them because they gave up more than 600 yards of offense to Robert Griffin III and Baylor, and one more, not because they were the lesser of two Bedlam forces – even though they were – but because they never had a chance given a ridiculous game plan was matched only by their giving up when that plan predictably yielded no results other than crippling turnovers. Would Stoops ever set forth a shakeup? It doesn’t have to be a Texas-sized shakeup, in which only the head coach is left standing. It can be a garden-variety shakeup, one that simply acknowledges changes must be made. It’s hard to believe Stoops would fire Josh Heupel, and yet equally hard to imagine how the former Sooner quarterback maintains his play-calling duties after completely disregarding OU’s running game at Bedlam one week after the Sooners ran for 253 yards against Iowa State. Also, Stoops turning to Brent Venables and saying, “You’ve had a good run, kid,” might appear unfathomable, and yet if Mike Stoops really wants to return to Norman, how can room not be made somewhere? Could Venables and Mike Stoops have another run as co-coordinators? Even if co-existence were no issue, one wonders if the younger Stoops has lost his luster, because his last Arizona defense wasn’t stopping anybody when he was fired at mid-season. On the other hand, a new start in Norman might not just revitalize Mike Stoops, but Bob Stoops, too. It’s easy to forget, but Bob Stoops was never a better head coach than when sharing the sideline with his brother, who seemed to give him swagger. From 1999 through 2003, Stoops took more chances, coached with more confidence and spent far less time apologizing for his players failings than he has since. Back in the day, Stoops spent more time critically deconstructing victories. So, does Bob Stoops’ program need a kick in the pants? Does the man himself need one? What’s happened is done. But the time to do something about it is only beginning. Assuming something needs fixing. Maybe nothing needs fixing. Hard to believe.

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