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January 14, 2013

COMMENTARY: Sooners' road map in 2013 needs a long look

NORMAN — Looking back on a college football season in which Oklahoma managed to snare another Big 12 championship yet still leave the Sooner Nation with a bad taste in its mouth, there are a few thoughts.

One, Texas A&M may rule the game for a little while, because I'm not sure how Johnny Manziel keeps from winning another Heisman Trophy or two, the guy being for college football what a teenage Wayne Gretzky was to the NHL a long time ago.

Two, sorry Sooner fans, but its unclear how OU gets better between this season and next. Assuming Blake Bell isn't Sam Bradford or RGIII or something in between, how does the Sooner offense keep on keeping on?

Three, the fate of the Sooner defense is more questionable. A new season means a fresh start, but if OU already had better defenders on its roster they should have been playing. They didn’t and how much difference can one recruiting class make by September?

Four, there's never been a better time for Bob Stoops to go rediscover himself, take a page out of 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004, when “No excuses” really was the order of the day and get everybody back on board with his program.

Much has been written and said about why Stoops has grown so defensive about his team, so much more willing to tell you why something happened as though it's a matter of fate rather than tell you how something happened, why it can't happen again and what’s going to be done about it.

I think it goes back the Rhett Bomar ghost employee soap opera, when the Sooner coach felt burned by coverage that recalled OU's outlaw past and decried any movement by his Sooner program that same direction.

Since then, Stoops has watched his words so carefully. He has tried to keep himself out of second-guessing range when he should know there’s no such place, leaving transparency and honesty as the best policy not because it won't come back to bite you, instead because when it does, you won’t appear insufferable or blind to the facts.

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