In recent years, I've periodically heard some Husker fans muttering about how much they "hate Bob Stoops"...but I'm not sure what the hate's about. Certainly, "Hate Bob Stoops" threads are popular all over the internet, but nearly all of them lack substance.
What is it exactly about Stoops that draws the ire of fans?
Frankly, I'm not sure it's anything he's directly done. Especially to Husker fans. A few years ago when asked in an ESPN interview where the best fans in the Big XII are, he quickly answered "Lincoln."
Stoops has always been complimentary of Nebraska. In today's USA Today, Stoops credited Tom Osborne for presenting Stoops with his greatest coaching challenges. In fact, one of Stoops most prized possessions is a note from Osborne complimenting Stoops for his defense. The feeling is obviously complimentary:
"I told coach Osborne this at a meeting this past year: that I thought competing against them was a major influence in my career - finding ways to defend them, to do it successfully and to slow them down and to give ourselves a chance to win.
"Because of how detailed and how good they were, you really had to be detailed and good in everything you did defensively. To me, that was my biggest jump, I felt, as a coach and as a defensive coordinator, is competing against them."
Perhaps it's simply a result of Stoops' position as head coach of Oklahoma. Certainly, Barry Switzer earned his hate. "Sooner Magic" broke the hearts of Nebraska fans time and time again, as the Sooners would come back to eek out a win over the Huskers, with Switzer seeming to dance on top of Husker fan's broken heart. Remember the classic "Taco" episode of the Bob Devaney Prediction Show in 1980?
While Stoops is clearly the most successful coach in the Big XII over the past decade, he certainly doesn't deserve the hate from Husker fans. Stoops has the success, to be sure...but he doesn't rub your face in it either. (Or so I think. Others beg to differ.) Of course, my opinion may be colored by the dynamics of the new NU/OU rivalry; it's only played two out of every four years. The last three NU/OU games were during a period when NU football was down, so the games didn't have the meaning that some of the classic battles did.
So what is it? I can't get a read on it, but maybe the best example is the uproar over Oregon's upset of the Sooners in 2006. Two blown calls late in the game doomed the Sooners in that game, and the instant replay official failed to correct the blatant blown calls, but many college football fans thought Stoops was merely whining. Maybe that's it in a nutshell.