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Friday, December 11, 2015

ESPN.com Big 12 Coach of the Year: Oklahoma's Bob Stoops




Bob Stoops revamped the Sooners after a disappointing 2014 campaign and has them on the verge of a national title. Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

December 11, 2015

Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer

Just one year ago, some wondered if Bob Stoops had lost his coaching touch.

This year, Stoops has Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff. And as a result, he's the ESPN.com Big 12 Coach of the Year.

Why he won: The Sooners entered this season seemingly on a tier below returning Big 12 co-champs Baylor and TCU following a disastrous 2014 campaign. Stoops, however, revamped his program by making some bold offseason changes. He fired offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, who had quarterbacked the Sooners to the 2000 national championship, and brought in 31-year-old Lincoln Riley to re-install the air raid. He also stood by his brother Mike Stoops, who was under fire after Oklahoma's defense had crumbled down the stretch of an 8-5 finish. And, he reopened the quarterback competition.

All three moves paid off big.

After a slow start, Riley's offense was electric during the second half of the season, featuring a lethal rushing attack. On the other side of the ball, Mike Stoops put together his finest defense since returning to Norman in 2012. And quarterback Baker Mayfield became a Walter Camp All-American.

Now, the Sooners are two games away from giving Stoops his second national championship.

Defining moment: After a stunning loss to Texas, Oklahoma appeared destined for another second-half swoon. But Stoops kept the players believing they could still meet all their preseason goals. And with some personnel and schematic adjustments on both sides of the ball the following, Oklahoma instantly made a gigantic turnaround, blasting Kansas State 55-0 in Manhattan.

Since that moment, no program in college football has been more dominant than Oklahoma.


Runner-up: Perhaps no coach in college football endured more adversity this season than TCU's Gary Patterson. The Horned Frogs suffered a rash of injuries to the defense early on in the year, then lost stars Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson late in the season. Despite that, TCU rallied to win 10 games, culminating with an overtime victory over arch-rival Baylor in a torrential downpour in the regular-season finale.

The Horned Frogs didn't win any championships this season. But this was one of Patterson's finest coaching jobs in his illustrious tenure in Fort Worth.

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