No. 13 Oklahoma

The question still lingers


Why, after 18 seasons, 12 Big 12 titles, a national championship and a three other championship game appearances did Bob Stoops decide to retire--and make the announcement so late (June) that it was all but impossible to give the job as the Oklahoma coach to rising young star Lincoln Riley.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

Maybe that is part of the answer. Stoops is 57 and still had a full cycle left in him as an elite college coach. Again, maybe that was part of the answer as well. He wanted to do more things with his life than worry about getting Oklahoma into a national championship game. He wanted a break, off the treadmill. And, he left Riley a roster filled with talent and potential, with 15 starters returning from last season's 11-2 Big 12 champion. Included in the returnees is QB Baker Mayfield who is on everyone's Heisman short list this season.

And in Riley, who at 33, is the youngest FBS coach in the country, Oklahoma has someone who can breath some fresh air into a program which had become, well, predictable in that it never quite hit its mark. "Big Game Bob'' was a tag that critics planted on Stoops year after year, the expectations never quite hit their mark.

Even last season, when the Sooners with championship ambitions started out with two losses in their first three games before ending the season on a 10 game winning streak, there were rumblings that a change of scenery might be good for Stoops and for OU.

Well, now the deed is done. The Texas-OU shootout in Dallas in October will match Riley vs. new Texas coach Tom Herman as much as it does the Sooners and Longhorns. Legacies will be created.

Still, there are obstacles for the Sooners, including a road game at Ohio State on Sept. 9 and there are road trips to Kansas State and Oklahoma State.

And as good as Mayfield is--he threw 40 TDS last season for almost 4,000 yards--the Sooners will have to show people they can close the deal. "The ultimate goal is play for the national championship,'' said Mayfield.

Can it happen? Absolutely.

Will it happen? Probably not.[/membership]