Oklahoma football: Best seasons of Bob Stoops era may be yet to come
NORMAN, Okla. -- One season. Just one season should make an Oklahoma fan feel better than this one of the 18 that now make up the Bob Stoops era.
Of course, that season was 2000. That was Red October, when OU knocked off No. 11 Texas, No. 2 Kansas State and No. 1 Nebraska back-to-back-to-back.
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It will never be surpassed for accomplishment, and it will never be matched for shock value. During the offseason that preceded it, fans were thrilled just to have watched the Sooners lose to Ole Miss at the Independence Bowl, thrilled even to call Shreveport a postseason home.
It will never be like that again, yet this is the best thing since.
Three other seasons the Sooners went further, playing for the 2003, 2004 and 2008 national championships, yet those games became losses to LSU, USC and Florida, leaving us to wonder if they might ever cash in the chance should it be earned again.
A year ago, OU reached the semifinals, but again, the season ended with a loss to Clemson, and how did those Sooners ever lose to Texas, anyway?
This time, the heartache came early with losses to Houston and Ohio State, after which OU improved every single week.
It was not out of nowhere given the preseason hype. Given the hype, maybe the Sooners should still be playing. Yet, given where this team found itself, its resurgence is unprecedented.
It came despite uncountable injuries, and a few players, guys that mattered, simply calling it a career.
It came despite an at-times horrendously porous defense.
That's a tribute to Baker Mayfield, Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon, Dede Westbrook and an offensive line, that may not have dominated, yet surely did enough.
And, when you think about it, it's even a tribute to that same flawed defense, too. Despite shortcomings, injury, an early leadership vacuum, it managed to be on the winning side 10 consecutive games.
Yes, at Texas Tech, it did nothing to earn it, yet it was great Monday night.
In the afterglow of Monday's Sugar Bowl victory, when the Sooners got in front of microphones, Mayfield spoke about what the win does for next season, Jordan Evans spoke of how the defense was just going to keep getting better, though it would no longer include him, and Stoops gave voice to the excellent recruiting class he believes the program is putting together.
Other offseasons may have offered more promise in black and white, but they didn't come wrapped in the same mojo. Others may have come following a more stunning bowl victory, but they didn't come with a conference championship. Others may have followed conference crowns, but not a 10-game winning streak, propelled by a perfect run through the league.
Everybody wants a national championship. Everybody wants to be the best. It's happened seven times around here, and it's easy to feel cheated when you're not in the fray.
Still, maybe most of all, seasons are about where you end up, but they're about process, too.
This was, sometimes, hard to watch. Ultimately, it was a beauty.
Next season is a long ways away. It will be madly anticipated, yet happily so.
It's the gift of this season.
This article is written by Clay Horning from The Norman Transcript, Okla. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network.