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Loss to Texas cost OU a defensive coordinator and the chance to control its own destiny
Well, we all knew there was a chance it was going to come to a head eventually, and what happened in Dallas turned out to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. OU's 48-45 loss to Texas basically cost Mike Stoops his job as defensive coordinator.
And that's too bad.
This team doesn't need a great defense to win a national championship with this offense. This team doesn't even need a really good defense to win a national championship with this offense. This team, with this offense, can win a national championship with an average defense -- one that make a few big plays along the way and can hold its own most of the time.
If Oklahoma would have had an average defense against Georgia in the Rose Bowl, we'd probably be defending national champions right now. Instead, we had a defense that made a big play or two, but couldn't get the big stop when we needed a big stop.
At least Georgia had a good offense.
Against Texas, OU's defense was so bad, it made Sam Ehlinger look like John Elway.
Ehlinger might best be described as a pedestrian quarterback, leading a pedestrian offense that had just rumbled over a bad Kansas State team for all of 10 points in 60 minutes.
They didn't do anything anyone shouldn't have expected. And they ran right over us.
A handful of absurd fans said it was worth losing, even to Texas, to get a change at defensive coordinator. I would never go that far, but it is what it is. My take, the defense couldn't get any worse, so what's the harm? I know that Lincoln Riley should go after the hottest young DC he can find after the season is over.
Hopefully, he can find the defensive version of himself.
And even with as bad as the defense was, all we needed to potentially force overtime with Texas was one stop that we simply could not get. And I don't think there was anyone in the Cotton Bowl who wouldn't have fully expected us to win in regulation if we had gotten the ball back with any significant time left on the clock.
In hindsight, we would have been better off eating clock and scoring at the very end so that they would not have had time to go down for the winning field goal. But, man, that comeback was one of the most impressive things I have seen in a long time. Ten plays was all it took us to score 21 points.
If we can somehow find a good defense to go along with that, we would really have something.
But, enough angst about that.
It's unfortunate that Mike Stoops had to go out that way, fired unceremoniously in the middle of the season, the day after an embarrassing loss to a hated rival. He has contributed greatly to the program, including pitching a shutout in the national championship game in 2001.
But that's coaching sometimes, and sometimes you just have to rip the Band-aid off. I don't think anyone thinks things would have gotten any better if that situation waited to be resolved until the end of the season.
It has seemed for several years that we have to lose a game before we really start playing well. I just wish that wakeup call could come without the losing part. I have no doubt that this team can and will win out. The only question then is who we would play in Arlington.
Personally, my dream scenario (and probably everyone else's) at this point would be for us to rematch with Texas in JerryWorld the first Saturday in December for the conference title.
I honestly don't think that will happen, though. This Texas team is good for at least two losses the rest of the season, maybe three. We're more likely to end up playing West Virginia two weeks in a row than playing Texas again.
That doesn't mean everyone wouldn't love to see it, though.
As for a return trip to the Playoff -- I'm afraid that's a bit of a longshot at this point.
Unlike last season, we don't have a marquee non-conference road win to boost our resume. I am certainly not saying it couldn't happen, but with Notre Dame looking like they might run the table, both the Big 12 and the Pac 12 will likely be out of the playoff with one-loss champions.
You are looking at Notre Dame, Clemson, Bama, and probably Georgia at this point. Once they put in two SEC teams last season, they are going to start making a habit of it, I'm afraid.
A mid-season loss usually means you lose control of your destiny. We still have a shot at it, but a lot of things out of our control will have to happen to get back to the Playoff.
Right now, all we can do is win one game at a time, win the conference again, and see where the chips fall. There is still a lot to play for, and one loss doesn't end anything.
I just hope, whoever ends up as the defensive coordinator on a permanent basis, the days of scoring 45 points on offense and losing the game are over.
(Editor's Note: This story appears in Sooner Spectator's October 2018 Fall Issue. To read more or subscribe, call 405-364-4515)