- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
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NORMAN, Okla. -- Head coach Bob Stoops said before the season it was "about time" Oklahoma won another national championship.
Stoops doesn't regret saying that then. And he feels the same will be true next season, too.
"It was about time," Stoops said. "That's what everyone's thinking. And they're restless. And it will be next year, too. I can say it next year -- that it's about time."
OU opened up the season as preseason No. 1, then came dangerously close to becoming the first in the AP poll's history to finish outside the Top 25. Friday's 31-14 win over Iowa in the Insight Bowl assures that won't be case. But it wasn't the season Stoops or the Sooners had envisioned before the season, either.
Still, OU still finished with 10 wins, beat Texas and won a third consecutive bowl, despite season-ending injuries to its leading rusher and receiver.
"Anytime you win 10 games, let's look around the world, the country, and there's not a lot that do it consistently," Stoops said. "No, I'm never pleased if we don't win some type of championship, meaning Big 12 or national. But I also have a perspective of some of the difficulties we've gone through, starting all the way back to spring, with losing Austin (Box). We lost guys throughout the year in different games that hurt us. And we lost a bunch of guys toward the end of the year that we really needed. Everyone makes a big deal about Iowa losing their running back. Well, lose your leading two receivers and then we're even. They still had them. It changes you. I realize we weren't quite as strong, after losing some guys. I always acknowledge some things as a staff.
"We can, or should, do better. But also we catch the bad draw, with having to go back to back to Baylor and Oklahoma State, on years where they've had the best seasons in the history of their program -- out of 100 years. Some of the circumstances didn't line up the best. That's the truth, whether anyone wants to acknowledge it or not."
Stoops was asked the day after the Insight Bowl if he wishes he would have tempered expectations, instead of flaming them by saying it was "about time" OU won another national title.
"It's the truth, right?" Stoops said. "Anybody who's been around here knows. We've won them like that, right? (Barry) Switzer was '73 … or, waited for 10, 11 years, '75, waited another 10 years, '85. That's what I was piecing together, right? We were on our 11th year, so it was about time. That's what everyone's thinking. And they're restlessness. And it will be next year, too. I can say it next year -- that it's about time."
Despite the up and down 2011 season, the Sooners could be a preseason contender for the national title again next season -- especially if quarterback Landry Jones comes back for his senior season. Virtually every skill player that played in the Insight Bowl is back, to go along with four returning starters on the offensive line.
Defensively, OU welcomes back several playmakers, including Tony Jefferson, Aaron Colvin and Demontre Hurst.
Because of several defections, the Sooners will also be able to sign a large recruiting class in February, filled with players capable of making an immediate impact.
"Who knows? We'll see," Stoops said. "From now until September is a long time. We've got a huge recruiting class to come that will virtually make up a third of your team. That's good."
Jake Trotter covers University of Oklahoma football for SoonerNation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submit questions to his mailbag and look for answers every Friday.