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Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Oklahoma future power rankings

By Jake Trotter

NORMAN, Okla. -- These are trying times in Norman. That is, by Oklahoma's lofty standards. Last season, the Sooners won 10 games, beat Texas and Oklahoma State and shared the Big 12 title. Yet almost no one in Sooner Nation, Bob Stoops included, was satisfied. Underscoring that dissatisfaction, Stoops made three coaching changes during the offseason, increasing the total to five in two years.

There’s no denying that OU’s overall talent level has dipped the last five years. The Sooners were overmatched, especially in the trenches, in losses to Notre Dame and Texas A&M. Stoops is banking that new assistants Jerry Montgomery, Bill Bedenbaugh and Jay Boulware and their strong recruiting backgrounds will help reverse that trend.

Still, there are very few programs that wouldn’t trade places with the Sooners. OU remains one of college football’s most storied teams, and the Sooners continue to upgrade their facilities -- the latest a new athletic dorm set to open in the fall. On top of that, Stoops, athletic director (Joe Castiglione) and president (David Boren) have been together now almost 15 years, making OU a model of consistency, both on and off the field. The Sooners have now finished with double-digit victories in 11 of the last 13 seasons, something Ohio State, Michigan, USC, Texas, Florida and, yes, even Alabama, have failed to match.

The Sooners will rise if ... they can eradicate the staleness that has begun to envelop the program. The Sooners have been consistently good over the years. Yet three title game losses continue to stigmatize the program as one that can’t win the big one.

One national title run would expunge that stigma, re-energize the program and send the Sooners surging up the future power rankings. The Stoops brothers have won big before, and the title path will be there in the new-look Big 12. The key is getting the elite caliber of players OU had earlier in the 2000s.

The Sooners will fall if ... the staleness continues. Because of its past, OU will always have a winning brand. But others have winning brands, too, and still more are carving them out. Texas A&M has been annihilating OU on the recruiting trail lately, and Bedlam rival Oklahoma State could be ranked ahead of the Sooners in the preseason Top 25 for the first time in 68 years. There’s a sense of urgency in Norman for good reason.

The Sooners will never fall far. Bud Wilkinson and Barry Switzer and now Stoops have ensured that. And as the 2000 team proved, OU is the kind of program capable of putting it all together any given year.