Bob Stoops

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The last time the Oklahoma Sooners won the national championship…

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The Oklahoma Sooners have been to the College Football Playoff each of the past two seasons, but the search to end Oklahoma’s championship drought continues in 2019.  It’s been nearly two decades since Oklahoma last claimed the title of national champion, with the Sooners winning their first national title since 1985. Bob Stoops restored Oklahoma to their championship glory in his second season as head coach of the Sooners in 2000, and Oklahoma has been ticking ever since, albeit without another national title to brag about.

It certainly wasn’t the prettiest of national championship games we’ve seen, with Oklahoma defeating Florida State by a score of 13-2 in the Orange Bowl, but the Sooners would take it any way they could get it. The quarterback of that Oklahoma squad? Current UCF head coach Josh Heupel, of course.

Oklahoma’s current string of 18 consecutive seasons without a national championship is tied for the longest championship drought in program history since winning its first national title in 1950. Oklahoma’s previous 18-year drought ran between championship seasons in 1956 and 1975. Can Lincoln Riley and the high-powered Sooners offense keep things humming right along and add another national championship trophy to the collection?

Last National Title Season: 2000 (19 years and counting)

Who was President?

Oh, what a doozy this year was for American politics. Bill Clinton was in his final year in the White House at the end of his second term. His Vice President, Al Gore, ran for the office in the 2000 election, only to lose the Republican George W. Bush. Although Gore won the popular vote in the United States, Bush was declared the winner in the electoral college after the results of the election hung in the balance in the state of Florida. Oh yes, there were hanging chads to determine the winner of Florida’s electoral votes. Bush edged Gore by five electoral votes, 271-266.

Someone else who briefly ran for president in 2000? That would be current president Donald J. Trump. Trump’s brief campaign came to an end in February of 2000. He would, of course, give it another try later on.

What was on TV?

Reality competition took the airwaves in a big way in 2000 with the introduction of “Survivor,” the top-rated television show in 2000. Regis Philbin was asking contestants of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in its second year on the air and still widely popular, leaving many to ask “Is that your final answer” in everyday situations.

Monica was proposing to Chandler on “Friends” and “ER” was still bringing in top ratings for NBC’s Must See TV lineup in a post-Seinfeld world. But this was the final year you could watch a baseball game on NBC. The network chose not to renew its broadcast deal with Major League Baseball.

What movies were hot?

Are you not entertained? Russell Crowe took on the role of Maximus Decimus Meridius, father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife, and he would have his vengeance in this life or the next, in the blockbuster hit Gladiator.” Topping it at the box office was impossible for nearly every film, but Tom Cruise did just that with Mission: Impossible 2. We also saw Tom Hanks talking to his volleyball friend Wilson in Cast Away and Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro teamed up in Meet the Parents.

Of course, one of the best football movies also hit theaters with Remember the Titans.

Who was on the cover of NCAA Football?

NCAA Football 2001 - Shaun AlexanderAlabama running back Shaun Alexander landed on the cover of “NCAA Football 2001,” available exclusively on the Sony PlayStation. This was the first time the ability to create your own player was included in the game, along with the option to create your own school and even your own league. Not only that, but you could play an actual playoff in the game’s dynasty mode with spots for up to 24 teams. The playoff mode never appeared in the franchise again.

The year 2000 also saw the introduction of the PlayStation 2, although the NCAA Football franchise would have to make the leap to the next generation console in 2001 with “NCAA Football 2002.” In the meantime, gamers were probably getting hooked on “The Sims” on PC, “The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask” on the Nintendo 64 or “Jet Set Radio” on the SEGA Dreamcast.

What else happened in 2000?

The year started with the St. Louis Rams hanging on to beat the Tennessee Titans in the Super Bowl. It was the first Super Bowl victory for head coach Dick Vermeil, and the Titans have not come as close to a Super Bowl victory as they did that day. Also earlier in the calendar year of 2000, capping the 1999 college football season, Florida State topped Mike Vick and Virginia Tech for the national championship game.

The Roger Clemens and the New York Yankees defeated Mike Piazza and the New York Mets in the World Series, dubbed the Subway Series. The staredown between those two remains one of the fall classic’s more bizarre and intense moments of the 21st century. It was the third straight World Series championship for Derek Jeter and the Bronz Bombers.

The Los Angeles Lakers won their first NBA title in 12 years by topping the Indiana Pacers in six games. The Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant era would go on to win two more titles for a three-peat. Team USA won the gold medal at the Olympics in Sydney, Australia with a roster consisting of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd, and Gary Payton. The highlight of the tournament, however, was Vince Carter dunking on France.

Tiger Woods was at the top of his game in 2000 with victories in the U.S. Open by 15 shots, the British open to complete a career grand slam at -19, and the PGA Championship with a to-par record of -18.

Zion Williamson, who was just drafted No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft, was born.

Current head coach Lincoln Riley was playing quarterback for Mike Leach at Texas Tech. Future Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford was in junior high school.

America Online, purchased Time Warner for $162 billion, and some people were still using dial-up to access their AOL email.

The final “Peanuts” comic strip was printed a day after the death of comic strip artist Charles Schultz.

Close calls

Oklahoma has had multiple chances to add another national championship to their program’s history since winning it all in the 2000 season. In 2003, the Sooners ended the year ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings, but Nick Saban and No. 2 LSU won the 2004 Sugar Bowl for the national championship (which was technically split after USC was named the national champions by the Associated Press). Oklahoma returned to the BCS championship game the following season but were no match for No. 1 USC, with the Trojans thrashing the Sooners 55-19 in the Orange Bowl for the BCS title.

No. 1 Oklahoma reached another BCS Championship Game in 2008 but Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford and company ran into a buzz saw with Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators. Oklahoma has since made three appearances in the College Football Playoff, but they have yet to win a game. The Sooners have lost semi-final matchups against Clemson (2015), Georgia (2017) and Alabama (2018) despite having a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback each of the past two seasons (Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray).

No team has come so close to adding so many national titles in the 21st century without getting across the finish line as Oklahoma. Will the ball bounce their way again soon?

Florida AD responds to internet coaching rumor by quoting Edgar Allen Poe

Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images
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With Florida officially on the market for a new head coach of the football program, it has not taken too long for the rumor mill to get moving. The Florida gig figures to see a number of familiar names attached to it during the rumor season, some more realistic options than others. This is also a time to never take anything for granted but also a time not to place too much faith in every little thing you read. With that in mind, Florida Athletics Director Scott Stricklin took to Twitter to confront one rumor head on.

Houston radio personality Marc Ryan shared an update on his Twitter feed claiming Florida has reached out to representatives for former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, former Oregon, and NFL head coach Chip Kelly and current USF head coach Charlie Strong to speak about the open posiiton in Gainesville. According to Ryan, he says these are the top three options on the wish list for Florida.

On the surface, it would make sense for a school like Florida to contact these coaches. One is a former coach with a national championship to his name. The other was one of the top coaches in the Pac-12 before taking a stab at the NFL (and failing miserably, but so did former Florida coach Steve Spurrier). And the last one is a former Florida assistant who has redeemed his coaching pedigree a bit this season at USF, one of the top Group of Five contenders right in the state of Florida.

But just as this is the time of the year to spread coaching rumors on the internet, it is also denial season from ADs and other school officials. And Stricklin certainly had quite the denial ready to go once he saw this one making the rounds.

The quote by Edgar Allen Poe comes from a short story, “The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether,” that originally was published in a November 1845 issue of Graham’s Magazine. Even if the original report from Twitter has any validity, this is exactly what you would expect an AD to say regarding his coaching search. But at least he had some fun with it by pulling a classic quote from a literary master.

Better later than never? Joe Mixon holds press conference to apologize for assault of a woman

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Two and a half years after assaulting a woman, Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon has issued a public apology in front of a microphone. In a press conference setting Friday afternoon, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops gave Mixon a chance to address the media for the first time regarding his assault of a female student from 2014 a week after the video of the incident was released.

“I’m here basically to apologize to [Amelia Molitor] (the woman struck in the face by Mixon). I apologize to Coach Stoops.I apologize to President [David Boren], the AD, my teammates and most of all my family. I let a lot of people down.” Mixon spent many moments apologizing to his mother throughout the press conference.

Mixon said on multiple occasions during his press conference it is never OK to hit a woman and committed to taking opportunities to speak to kids about violence. Throughout the press conference, Mixon was presented with questions about his being on the team and his future. Mixon remained committed to playing for the Sooners as they prepare to take on Auburn in the Sugar Bowl and suggested he was not thinking about a timeline for any possible decision on the NFL. Mixon was also asked about an incident earlier this season over a parking ticket.

Mixon took responsibility for the incident, saying “It really doesn’t matter what she did (referencing Mixon being contacted first in the incident).”

“I take full responsibility for what I did, Mixon said. “It’s never OK to hit a woman. Never.”

The issue at Oklahoma is disturbing as far as Mixon is concerned, but it is beyond time for leaders at Oklahoma to face the pressure of the media over how Mixon was handled as well. Stoops has done so, saying the punishment to Mixon was not enough at the time, with the hindsight of seeing the video. It is not unprecedented for players connected to similar assault cases to be booted from the program, yet Oklahoma kept him a part of the program and shielded him from media scrutiny along the way until today.

Mixon previously issued a written statement of apology.

No. 1 Clemson dominates No. 4 Oklahoma in Orange Bowl to advance to CFB Playoff championship

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It was supposed to be an offensive shootout. It was supposed to go down to the wire. No. 1 Clemson (14-0) did not care for any of that. After going into halftime trailing by one point after having a pass intercepted in the end zone, the Tigers roared in the second half and buried No. 4 Oklahoma (11-2) with a 21-0 second half en route to a convincing 37-17 victory in the Orange Bowl semifinal of the College Football Playoff. Deshaun Watson and Wayne Gallman each rushed for over 140 yards and combined for three rushing touchdowns as Clemson punched its ticket to Glendale, Arizona to play in the second College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Monday, January 11, 2016.

The first half of the game saw Clemson missing opportunities to tack on points at times, but they made sure that did not come back to haunt them in the second half. It did not help Oklahoma’s cause that running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon each went down with injuries in the game. Perine was injured twice in the game, the second injury bringing an end to his evening in Miami. Oklahoma managed just 70 rushing yards, which never allowed for much chance to keep pace with Clemson. Clemson rushed for over 300 yards thanks in large part to the combination of Gallman and Watson. It was a rough evening for Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield too, who was under pressure essentially all game long and picked off twice despite 311 passing yards. Clemson’s quarterback also passed for 187 yards and a touchdown to keep the undefeated season continuing into the final game of the year. This was the second time Oklahoma has been outrushed by at least 250 yards by the opponent under Bob Stoops, who coached the Sooners to a second straight blowout loss at the hands of Dabo Swinney and Clemson.

Clemson’s defense got off to a sluggish start and ended the first half on a down note, but the second half the Tigers were on fire, even without Shaq Lawson (Lawson left the game in the first half with a leg injury and was ruled out for the second half; Lawson said he hopes to be able to play in the championship game). Clemson forced Oklahoma to punt, a turnover on downs, punt, an interception and a punt in the second half. It was quite the effort for Clemson, and it was a truly impressive bounce back after a sluggish first half at times.

Clemson will now await the winner of the Cotton Bowl semifinal game between SEC champion Alabama and Big Ten champion Michigan State. Alabama owns a 12-2 head-to-head record against Clemson, with the most recent meeting between the two programs coming in 2008 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta. Clemson’s last win against Alabama came in 1905, which followed a victory in 1904. Alabama has won 12 straight meetings since. Clemson has never faced Michigan State.

For Oklahoma, it will be back to the drawing board. The Sooners still rebounded from a relatively down season in 2014 by striking back and taking advantage of a couple of Big 12 contenders playing without their top quarterbacks (TCU, Baylor). The offense opened up under a new offensive coordinator and the Sooners should still be expected to be one of the top contenders in the Big 12 next season. The perception of the Big 12 will also continue to be a talking point. Two years into the College Football Playoff and the Big 12 has yet to win a game (we’ll see if the SEC can get on the board in a few hours). After being left out of the playoff last season, Oklahoma was a 20-point loser this season. Does that affect the image of the Big 12? One team’s performance should not be the only measuring stick for the strength of an entire conference, but that will what is magnified in Big 12 circles in the coming months and heading into the 2016 season.

Stoops expects Baker Mayfield, Samaje Perine to play in Bedlam

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With a Big 12 championship on the line, as well as a possible spot in the College Football Playoff, Oklahoma head coach is optimistic his Sooners will have some key players available to take on rival Oklahoma State. Quarterback Baker Mayfield and running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon are all expected to be available to play the Cowboys on Saturday.

“Baker Mayfield and Samaje Perine practiced all week, and Joe Mixon has practiced every day since Wednesday,” Stoops said in a released statement Friday afternoon. “All three are expected to play tomorrow.”

Mayfield has caught fire since a loss to Texas earlier in the season. The Sooners quarterback, a rising Heisman Trophy candidate, was knocked out of a win against TCU last weekend after taking a blow to the head. Mayfield passed concussion tests administered and was to be monitored closely all week. With Stoops expecting Mayfield to play, that appears to be as good a sign as any for the Oklahoma offense.

Running backs Perine and Mixon each suffered ankle injuries in the game against the Horned Frogs, but both being available to play against Oklahoma State helps keep Oklahoma’s offense in good shape. Perine is Oklahoma’s leading rusher with 1,160 yards and 13 touchdowns. Mixon is second on the team with 613 yards and third with five touchdowns. Mayfield is second on the team with six rushing touchdowns, and he has rushed for 343 yards as well.

A win for Oklahoma on Saturday likely will be enough to keep the Sooners in the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings. Oklahoma State may still need some help to sneak into the top four. Baylor is also still in the running if the Sooners take a hit.