Bob Stoops is the Coach of the Year

Stoops best pick for this year’s coach

By Roger Moore
STILLWATER NEWSPRESS (STILLWATER, Okla.)
Without question, most of the national attention when it comes to college football coaches in 2006 concerns Rutgers’ Greg Schiano.

The Scarlet Knights have become the darlings of ESPN and just about every other major media outlet on the East Coast. So, odds are the Rutgers coach will be named college football’s coach of the year by just about everybody.

But if anybody has been paying attention, the University of Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops is a runaway winner.

Consider all the distractions in and around Norman this football season and it’s hard to believe the Sooners are among the nation’s top 15 and 9-2 with one game to play.

Before the first kickoff, Rhett Bomar, who was among a few preseason Big 12 all-conference lists, was dismissed from the team after shady dealings with a local car dealership. It brought an NCAA investigation to town and put the offense in the hands of Paul Thompson, who lost the job to Bomar early in the 2005 campaign.

The bad karma continued in Eugene, Ore., when officials gave the Ducks a victory in a down-to-the wire affair.

Texas, the defending national champions, dropped OU to 3-2.

Since?

Stoops and Co. have won six-straight games, including a win in College Station.

“It’s been exciting … and interesting,” Stoops said with a laugh during Monday’s Big 12 Conference coaches teleconference. “I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been fun as a coach to see young guys step up. It shows that this is the ultimate team sport.”

A week after losing in Dallas, OU lost Heisman Trophy candidate Adrian Peterson. Plenty wrote them off, but with running backs as low as No. 4 on the preseason depth chart all Oklahoma has done is put itself in a position to compete in the Big 12 title game. It would require a Texas A&M win over UT in Austin, but considering the bad luck of the early part of the season, and the fact OU is even “in position” is remarkable.

This Saturday, OU visits Stillwater for Bedlam.

A play … or two … or three and Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy is right there with Stoops for coach of the year honors.

The Midwest City native’s first year wasn’t a complete disaster, but it wasn’t very good either. Four wins in 11 games and last place in the Big 12 South.

Gundy’s second squad takes a 6-5 record into the regular season finale. But oh, what could have been.

• A late rally by Kansas State and a 31-27 loss for the Pokes.

• A 4th-and-13, a missed extra point and a triple overtime defeat at home to Texas A&M.

• And last Saturday in Lubbock? A 17-0 lead and a game decided on the final play.

They’ll be talking about it all off-season — a team that could have easily been 9-2 entering Bedlam.

Gundy hasn’t had to deal with many off-the-field distractions in 2006. He’s had to deal with a team that’s had on-the-field troubles, and five minutes later looked like world beaters.

Stoops hopes the 2006 season doesn’t end like it started.

Gundy is just looking for his team to play 60 minutes of good football to guarantee the program’s fourth bowl game in five seasons.

Roger Moore writes for Stillwater (Okla.) NewsPress.

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