NORMAN, Okla. -- The Oklahoma brand has enjoyed better times. Bud Wilkinson’s Sooners charging to 47 straight wins. Barry Switzer and Sooner Magic rolling to three national championships in a little more than a decade. Bob Stoops hoisting the BCS trophy after one of the most dominating defensive performances in college football history and a 13-2 win over Florida State.
In recent years, the powers of the SEC have been the class of college football, collecting the last six national titles. But if you’re looking for a more consistent brand than the one in Norman? Good luck.
Bob Stoops is 139-34 as head coach of the Sooners.
Seemingly every power over the last 15 years has endured tough times at some point. USC. Michigan. Ohio State. Tennessee. Penn State. Florida. Florida State. Miami. Notre Dame. Yes, even Texas, which suffered a losing record just two seasons ago.
But since Bob Stoops took over in 1999, Oklahoma has been the model of consistency. The Sooners have finished with double-digit victories in 10 of the last 12 seasons.
By Oklahoma standards, 2011 was an utter disaster. The Sooners lost leading rusher Dominique Whaley, then leading receiver Ryan Broyles before eventually careening off the road in November. And even then, the Sooners still won 10 games.
“We've won so many Big 12 championships and won a national championship, competed for other national championships,” Stoops said. “When you're not in that position, 10-3 isn't what you want.”
In reality, the Stoops era only underscores what the Oklahoma program has been about since World War II: consistent winning at the highest level. The Sooners lead the nation in winning percentage during the modern era. They own the longest winning streak in FBS history. And in the AP poll, they have been voted No. 1 a record 101 times. The Sooners have also spent more weeks ranked in the top five and top 10 of the poll than anyone else in the country.
The biggest knock on the program of late is that the Sooners perennially fail to meet their lofty -- almost unrealistic -- preseason expectations. Despite remarkable regular seasons, Oklahoma lost national title games in 2003, 2004 and 2008. Then in 2010 and 2011, the Sooners failed to reach the national championship game, despite being ranked No. 1 in each season.
Still, despite last year’s swoon, Oklahoma goes into this season on the short list of title contenders yet again. The Sooners are ranked fourth in the preseason polls, and feature the most experienced quarterback in college football in fifth-year senior Landry Jones.
“I feel we’ve got a really good chance,” Stoops said, “to be one of those teams where we’re competing for Big 12 and national championships.”