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December 2, 2011

Showdown could be perfect for taking risks

NORMAN — You wonder if Bob Stoops regrets not being named James or Theodore. Because had he been named James or Theodore, nobody ever would have tagged him Big Game Jim or Big Game Ted.

It had to be Bob (or Bill, or maybe Brian). It is all about alliteration. That, and in Stoops’ case, winning a bunch of big games right out of the chute.

And when you think about those games, so many of them in 2000, what is it that you think about?

Some are sure to remember the fearlessness, the trick plays, the apparent swashbuckling brashness with which Stoops’ Sooners played (or play-called). If John Brooks still had been The Voice for the dawn of the Stoops’ era, the Sooner coach would have been a “Riverboat Gambler.”

Now, think about the existing conditions by which Stoops would call for a fake punt, go for it on fourth down when making it was sure to demoralize an opponent or, pretty much, throw everything at the other side, even the kitchen sink.

Sometimes there was Mike Stoops in his brother’s ear, telling Bob Stoops to give it a whirl, the defense had him covered.

There was also that thing Oklahoma has hardly been since, which must make it imminently easier to take a chance. There was that thing about OU being the underdog, the upstart, the program, after years in the wilderness, with nothing to lose.

It would have been nice, here and there, over the last several years, to see OU, even as a constant favorite, compete as though an underdog.

Saturday OU will have no excuses (how perfect for their coach!). It is the underdog, by three-and-half points last I looked.

It is a hard thing to do.

IBM couldn’t do it. Microsoft has struggled to do it. American car companies, until recently, could not do it. Because it’s hard to think like an upstart, an innovator, when you couldn’t be more establishment. Once the mountaintop is reached, it’s about security rather than the next mountaintop. Try thinking like a whippersnapper then and it’s hard to do it right.

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