NORMAN — Oklahoma’s expectations are not going to shrink. Bob Stoops made that clear when he spoke to reporters Friday afternoon.
“People get bored with just winning the Big 12 championship. They want more,” he said. “You’ve gotta win the national championship.”
That’s been the deafening roar since OU’s season ended with a 41-13 loss to Texas A&M in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. The loss, which dropped it to 10-3 for the second straight season, was seen by some as a marker of how the program has slipped the last several seasons.
Despite winning the Big 12 championship in 2010 and sharing the title with Kansas State this season — Stoops’ eighth conference title since 2000 — it has been four years since OU played in the national championship game and 13 since it hung a national championship banner.
“I hate it,” Stoops said. “We’ve been pretty used to it. I helped create that, and to me, it’s the pulse here. I don’t like it, but that’s me.”
But how does OU get back to that level?
All three of its losses were to teams that finished 12th or higher in the final AP Top 25 — No. 4 Notre Dame, No. 5 Texas A&M and No. 12 Kansas State.
The Sooners have been planning to move on without Landry Jones at quarterback for years. The defense, which snapped late in the season after games against Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, could return as few as three starters next season.
Stoops said he still doesn’t know if cornerback Aaron Colvin will return to school when the spring semester begins on Monday. Underclassmen have until Tuesday to make themselves eligible for the NFL Draft, which safety Tony Jefferson and wide receiver Kenny Stills have already done.
The rebuilding of the defense is going to begin in March with whomever is still around and whomever OU signs next month.
“I never mind playing guys we’re gonna sign in February,” Stoops said. “I mean, we’ve had a lot of good ones come in and make big contributions, so that may be the case to a degree, but I think always, too, there’s a lot of guys — every year, I say this, and you know that — that people aren’t seeing that we are trying to develop, and come on, and, ‘Wow, who’s this guy?’ I’m hopeful we’ll have some of those guys. We always have in the past, so, like I said, sometimes it’s not bad some guys are moving on.”
Stoops doesn’t anticipate any staff changes coming, but admitted nothing is set in stone except the building plan for next season. The coaching staff is in the middle of a major recruiting weekend and then has another month until signing day on Feb. 6. Spring practice begins in March.
The process of building a team that can win a national championship is ongoing. When it clicks back isn’t an exact science.
“You never know,” Stoops said. “We didn’t seem very close when we had a shot at it in 2000. You never know when it’s coming. We’re gonna work hard for it, and we’ll try and make some improvements through the winter and spring and hopefully have a chance to be better next year.”
John ShinnFollow me @john_shinn