The Passion of Bob Stoops
By Joe O'Connell,
10:42AM, Tue. Oct. 9, 2007
My pal got the big job against stiff competition. He wasn’t necessarily the best candidate, but he wanted it the most. A month or so ago I spoke about my new novel, Evacuation Plan, to the Writers League of Texas. One person attending later admitted on her blog that she came with no intention of buying a book about life and death in a hospice. Too damn depressing. But at the end of the night she was in line to get my autograph on her copy. Her explanation? I showed passion for the project, just like my pal did when he won that coveted job. Which brings us to the Texas Longhorns.
They showed Saturday that they are every bit as talented as the Oklahoma Sooners, though I don’t know that’s a big compliment because the Sooners, in my humble opinion, are highly overrated. OU has perhaps less of a ground attack than the Horns, which they demonstrated Saturday except for two explosive plays. And just like the Horns they can’t defend the pass worth a damn. The Sooners, like the Horns, incur a lot of needless penalties. In the end both teams are young and prone to mistakes, not the sort that make it to the national championship game, and not even to the Big 12 title match.
The Magic 8-Ball sez OU and Texas will lose at least one more game each due to youth, inexperience, and — in Texas’ case — lack of passion. That lack is what lost it for the Horns Saturday. That and another Jamaal Charles fumble. (I’ve never looked: does he have those tiny Ricky Williams hands?) If Charles had scored, the two teams would be all even. They are even. Except Oklahoma under Bob Stoops has the passion that Texas has lacked since Vince Young left early for the Big Money. It’s a passion that’s been pretty scarce since even before the Mack Brown era. It the passion of Bob Stoops, the reason a crazy gambler like him keeps racking up wins.
Texas sat on its hand during the last two and a half minutes of the game. Would passionate Vince Young have done that? Would Major Applewhite have done it? I don’t think it’s fair to blame Colt McCoy for this one though. The young QB played his heart out despite a brain bruised up from a concussion last week in that ridiculous loss to Kansas State. But when it came down to passion, the will to win against the odds, the Horns didn’t stand up.
There were moments of greatness. Jermichael Finley was godlike snatching the ball from between defenders, and Texas — like OU did — could have survived on the short pass all day. But OU didn’t make any mistakes. Texas made a couple, but not insurmountable ones. The late coach Jim Wacker’s mantra was “you gotta believe.” Texas didn’t believe. The most telling play of the game was the last one. McCoy was at the line waiting for the snap when the clock ran out (someone explain that to me, please?). Game over. Any major dreams of anything but an Alamo Bowl repeat dashed.
Can the Horns pick up the pieces? Some of them. It’s time for bold moves. Admit Charles needs a smaller role in the running game. Hey, consider moving brick house Henry Melton back to offense for a few plays a game (though he had his own case of fumblitis last season). Put John Chiles in. A lot. Get creative. Take risks. Find that missing passion. It’s the only hope. Oh, and, yes, my book is available on Amazon.com.