Stoops working to get Sooners back on track

NORMAN, Okla. — Two seasons ago, reserve quarterback Blake Bell replaced Landry Jones and the Sooners picked up a first down.

And another. Then a bunch more. Then the Oklahoma football team went on beat Kansas State in a dominant second half of a 58-17 victory.

With it, the Belldozer was born and a statement was made.

Sometimes, when things aren’t working, Bob Stoops does something about it.

Kind of like he did two Octobers ago in Manhattan, Kan.

Kind of like he’s doing now, firing more folks than the guy holding those Glengarry leads.

It took Stoops and his staff forever to figure out how to get a first down in short-yardage situations, but they finally solved it by putting Bell into games. And it took less than two days for Stoops to clean out the Switzer Center like the Two Bobs did at Initech. But he did it.

Admitting you’re wrong isn’t easy for anyone, whether you work at Starbucks or coach the Sooners, but for Stoops, the last few days must have been difficult. Not only is OU just more than a month removed from a Cotton Bowl undoing by Texas A&M, but Stoops got rid of a long-time friend in Bruce Kittle and a long-time Sooner in Jackie Shipp. Some say James Patton wasn’t fired, instead moving to Indiana for a similar position. Leaving Oklahoma for Indiana in anything football related, short of coaching for the Colts, can only be looked at as curious. Shipp had been with the Sooners for 14 seasons, Patton for seven.

So, clearly Stoops thinks need to change. He went 13 seasons as coach at OU before firing any assistant. Now, he’s got rid of three in a 48-hour span.

That’s a big change and a bit more significant than opening up the playbook. But unlike that fall Saturday a few years back, Stoops might have been forced into this deal.

At no time since Stoops took over in the fall of 1999 has there been more questions, more concern and more panic.

OU hasn’t played for a national championship in five seasons, is without a conference title for the last two and seemingly hasn’t played much defense lately, either. The Sooners were run over the second half of 2011 and then came apart in the same way in 2012.

Now, Oklahoma heads into the 2013 season with a new quarterback, possibly a new defense as Bob Stoops and and brother, Mike, have hinted at moving to the 3-4, and pretty much a new defensive line as they have recruited seven new players for the line.

Despite Bob Stoops staying quiet during the recruiting season – for obvious reasons – on staff changes, it was obvious he felt pressure, too, so he did the only thing he could possibly do.

Make some changes, whether they were truly necessary or not. The offensive line under Patton and partially under Kittle (he coached tight ends and tackles), despite a ton of injuries over the past few seasons, didn’t play poorly, but the defensive line did under Shipp did.

Hard to evaluate the other elements of what the assistants did, like recruiting, but figure Stoops was making the move firstly because of on-field issues.The Sooners weren’t great running the ball and they were miserable stopping the run. That pretty much means something has to happen, so he bumped the guys most responsible.

Maybe these changes will work. Maybe they won’t. It looks like Oklahoma is close to bringing in West Virginia line coach Bill Bedenbaugh, according to And maybe OU pulls off a surprise hire which will make a difference.

Either way, the changes show Bob Stoops is thinking the same way most fans around here do: Winning 10 games just isn’t enough, so he’s doing something about it.

Only this time, it’s not third-and-one.