In the aftermath of a frustrating loss to Kansas State, Jordan Esco of Crimson and Cream Machine has penned a scathing assessment of the state of Oklahoma’s football program. His conclusion: OU needs a Texas-style football enema. (Not a Tennessee-style one, mind you.)
Esco is, of course, referring to UT coach Mack Brown’s decision to clean house following a disastrous 2010 campaign. Brown bunkered down, talked to some “consultants” and by January 2011, a number of longtime Longhorn coaches “decided to retire” and were replaced by young whippersnappers with new-fangled ideas about how to play football. Texas improved to 8-5 the following season and has started the 2012 season 3-0, sitting at No. 10 in the USA Today Poll as the ‘Horns prepare to face Oklahoma State this weekend.
Esco draws a number of parallels between the situation at Texas in 2010 and where the Sooners stand now, but his argument primarily rests on the idea that Bob Stoops and his program are as complacent now as Brown claims to have been after his 2009 team played for a national championship.
That very well could be the case. However, before we call Mack in for an audit of OU, let’s unpack the Texas parable for a moment. I think the end result will be instructive.
Way back in 2004, Brown made the call to unleash Vince Young and install a spread offense scheme that was wildly successful. Texas won a national championship the next year. When Young left, the ‘Horns stuck with the spread under new quarterback Colt McCoy and won Mack’s second Big 12 title. They had a legitimate gripe about getting aced out of the BCS title game in ‘08 and they did play for another national championship in ‘09.
After falling to Alabama in that game, Mack decided he wanted what Nick Saban had. He decreed that Texas would junk the spread and go to a “pro-style” offense.
Now, you could certainly blame what happened to Texas on the field in 2010 on complacency within the coaching staff. Maybe, however, it was foolish to assume that a team that had been built and coached to play one way for years could change course overnight and not entertain the idea that your squad might struggle with the transition.
I know which version of events I’d go with if I was trying to save my ass.
I bring all this up not to dismiss the idea that Texas’s program is traveling on an upward trajectory now or that Mack made the right moves after his team fell apart in ‘10. But shit tends to roll downhill around the Texas football program. Playing the complacency card implies that the people around you weren't good enough.
The staff that Mack gutted did win a national title. Yet, while he's still on the 40 Acres, they're calling plays in Iowa City.
I don’t know how any OU fan could look at the last seven or eight games that the Sooners have played and not be concerned. Then again, I remember having the same concerns during the 2005 season – OU won the Big 12 three straight times after that year. Oklahoma looked like a mess in 2009 – the Sooners won the Big 12 again a year later.
Changes were made then, even if no press conferences were called.
Maybe this time will be different. Maybe Stoops really has grown complacent after 14 years on the job. However, he seems as much the same stubborn ass now that he was back then.
Don't expect for Stoops to express any doubt in himself or his plan from now until his last day as OU's coach. That might not placate fans who want answers, but that's how he rolls.