Mac Engel

Bob Stoops’ exit creates opening for Texas teams that struggled to beat him

The rumor came true about two years earlier than expected. Mount Stoops is no more, and with it comes an end to another irritating era of Oklahoma Sooners’ dominance over Texas.

Bob Stoops’ decision to retire as ball coach in Norman is a major surprise only because of the timing, but a major loss for a conference that needs as many top tier teams as it can find.

This decision was all about putting offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley in a position to be the full-time head coach without any push back from the OU administration. Practice begins in less than two months, and there is no way the Sooners would find another coach in this tight time frame.

Stoops waited to make this announcement knowing he could place his hand-picked successor right now. If I am a Sooners’ fan, despite Riley’s résumé, I am sweating this promotion. Even if Riley has Baker Mayfield as his quarterback and a loaded roster capable of reaching the college football BCS Plus 2 again, succeeding Stoops is akin to replacing Barry Switzer.

Regardless, for TCU, T. Boone State, Texas and every other school in the Big 12, the departure of Stoops means this is their chance. This is our shot.

Texas may run the Big 12 because of its size and money, but no man has bullied this league more than Stoops. That list includes noted bully and former Big 12 defacto boss, former UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds.

Speaking of The Entitled Orange, the man who must exploit this absence more than any other is The Herminator in Austin. In his first season at Texas, Tom Herman will have the luxury of never having to coach against Stoops. Mack Brown could only have been so lucky.

The last time a Sooners coach as successful as Stoops left Norman it led to a decade of frustration and irrelevance that left the good folks in Oklahoma wondering if they could beat Kansas any more.

After Switzer was pushed out following the 1988 season, he was replaced by Gary Gibbs, who was followed by Howard Schnellenberger and John Blake. In their own way they all tried yet failed miserably to sustain the Oklahoma brand that was built by Bud Wilkinson and sustained by Switzer.

The recognized Boomer Sooner brand did not return until Stoops arrived and rebuilt it to the level that spoiled previous generations were accustomed to.

What Alabama’s Nick Saban is doing to coaches across the country, Stoops did when he arrived to Norman in 1999.

Stoops’ winning a national title in his second season hastened the timeline and expectations for all big-time coaches who were hired after him. Saban has made it worse.

And much of Stoops’ success came from Texas players, and at Texas’ expense. Not just the Longhorns, mind you. In his career, Stoops was 55-20 against Baylor, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Texas and TCU combined.

The best any school did against Stoops was Texas. Bevo was 7-11 against Bob. That’s right, one of those Magnificent Seven came in 2015, a 24-17 upset over the then-No. 10 Sooners that was thought to be the beginning of a successful stay for Charlie Strong.

But, Kansas happened.

Unless Lincoln Riley is the second-coming of John Blake, the Sooners are not going to turn into the Cyclones of the South.

However good Oklahoma may remain under Riley, Herman best start the process of flipping UT’s sinful sub-.500 record against Oklahoma immediately. Not just for his own standing in Austin among the Entitled Orange, but for this entire state.

From El Paso to College Station to Waco to Fort Worth to Austin, 2016 was humiliating for Texas in a sport that we claim as ours. Other than Houston, Oklahoma beat all of the big Texas teams. So did Kansas State.

Maybe we can’t beat Alabama, but there is no reason why Oklahoma should bully and embarrass Texas in football. Stoops did that as well as any coach ever has.

Now Stoops has finally stopped. He’s 56, and after 18 years in Norman he decided it was time. Given the amount of money coaches of this era make, they don’t need to work well into theirs 60s. Don’t expect Stoops to come back to coach.

With Stoops’ departure it’s time for Texas to take over.

Herm, you’re up. Now get out there and don’t embarrass us.

Mac Engel: @macengelprof

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