OU’s Two Tales Of One Sooner Coach
Throughout the history of Oklahoma, as times and technology have changed, the one constant in this state might be the traditions of OU Sooner fans. Loyal to a fault until it's time to hop on a "Fire _____" bandwagon, every season sees its ups and downs in the football program, and 2021 is no different.
In my lifetime, the OU coach most notable in my memory was Bob Stoops. Famed for putting together the final pieces of a national championship-winning team... then having a famously disastrous future of losing big bowl games. Fans literally called him Big-Game Bob for his few failures in an otherwise impressive career at OU, winning just shy of 80% off all games during his tenure. Literally, after every loss, OU fans called for his firing. At least the loudest fans did.
Lincoln Riley has experienced the same thing in his short time at the head of the program. Now in the middle of his fifth year as head coach, Riley has a winning percentage of about 87%. Still, after almost every loss, the loudest of the OU fans call for his firing.
In 2021, as Lincoln Riley has barely managed to keep a perfect winning record and fans at bay, that rabid fanbase is split down the middle between keeping and firing this years Patsy for OU's struggles. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.
While it's easy for fans to ride high on the higher profile wins of this season so far... OU's slim win over Texas and that WCU blowout earlier in the year are the only two impressive performances as of yet. It's all a fanbase can do to forget almost losing to notoriously bad football programs like Tulane, Nebraska, and Kansas University... Our Sooners literally squeaked by a few schools that would struggle to compete with the Tulsa area's elite high school programs, and the blame has been unanimously laid at the feet of Coach Grinch, which is fair since it's his defensive strategy that lags in every game.
Here's the rift in the whole situation. Normally, you really only hear one side of the fanbase when it comes to matters of coaching, and it's always at the extreme ends of the spectrum. They're either doing great and the best thing since (name a random coach from an earlier era) or they're the worst thing since, in this particular case, Bob Stoops brother and ineffective once-OU defensive coordinator Mike. Somehow Coach Alex Grinch is both among the fans.
The first tale of Coach Grinch is the one we're all familiar with at this point in the story. In a season with five very narrow wins over five very unrated opponents, there is a vocal cry to end OU's employment with Grinch. After all, if OU's defense were as spectacular as their offense is always believed to be, there would be no close games with even the highest-ranked opponents. Fans want him gone.
The second tale is the opposite. In the last few days, it's rumored that Grinch interviewed with Texas Tech to fill a planned head coaching vacancy, and OU fans are grieving the idea that their defensive coordinator that has managed a perfect 2021 season would up and leave, and it has nothing to do with the perfect season he's somehow been a part of.
Fans feeling the drama over the notion Grinch could move up to a head coaching position at Texas Tech feel he's a higher-caliber coach deserving a similar move to a much better school... but not for a few years since the 5-star recruiting he pulls off is so important to the Sooners program.
Fans want him gone, but they don't want him to leave. 2021 is a weird time in OU coach/fan relations history.
As a non-fan looking in from the outside, I think even the most die-hard crimson and cream bleeding fans are unsure where Lincoln Riley will carry this program... but they also know their cries for a head coaching change will go unheard. At this point, nobody knows how to keep OU from entering an eventual rebuilding phase that will see the team return to their '90s patheticness.
All the same, seeing as OU is trying to berth into the Southeastern Conference in the coming years, they should embrace the suck now because this move might end up a parallel to Nebraska when they left for Big10.
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