If you're not happy with the current state of football affairs at Oklahoma, the school's administration has a message for you.
OU announced today that it has come to terms with Bob Stoops on a contract extension that will run through 2020. The deal will most likely be his last with the school prior to his retirement.
Personally, I found the news a little surprising. I've never believed that Stoops' job was in any sort of jeopardy. Yet, even though I don't know him at all, I've interpreted his behavior of late as a sign that he was winding things down in Norman. A seven-year extension sends a different message about his future.
A few general thoughts:
*Assuming Stoops and OU intend to see the contract to its completion, I reckon that should put the brakes on talk of grooming a replacement for the head coach from the current staff. Seven years is a long time to wait for that seat to open up.
Maybe we'd see a situation where a guy like Josh Heupel or Mike Stoops leaves for another head coaching job with the intention of coming back to Norman when Bob steps down. Either way, if a decent opportunity comes up, I doubt any assistant with aspirations of running his own show passes it up.
*Also, I'd be interested to see what the escape clauses in this contract are. I generally think the real story behind any of these agreements can be found in the buyout clauses. Barring a complete collapse or some kind of egregious scandal, Stoops won't get the axe in the next seven years. What kind of provisions are in place if he decides to step down, though?
*In terms of what the next seven years might be like, I tend to think that, like just about every endeavor in life, a football coach has a limited shelf life in which he can be most effective. The last few seasons suggest that Stoops has passed that expiration date in Norman.
That doesn't mean Stoops isn't a truly elite coach. Contrary to popular message board opinion, coaches don't suddenly flip from stellar to incompetent overnight.
Still, OU has the feeling of a program that has gone stale. Right now injecting some new life into Sooner football represents Bob's most pressing challenge. Iconic coaches like Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno struggled to get that done in the latter stages of their careers, and Bob only has to look down at OU's chief rival to see Mack Brown flailing as he tries to undo the disappointment of the last three seasons.
If Bob can't shift OU's momentum back in the right direction with a quickness, these next seven years have the potential to get nasty. Here's hoping that it never reaches that point.