NORMAN — OU is closing in on hiring a coach.
Oregon might be embarking on a coaching search of its own.
And Dec. 29, the Sooners and Ducks will meet in the Alamo Bowl at San Antonio’s Alamodome.
The Sooners have played in plenty of bowl games in Texas — three Cotton Bowls in the DFW Metroplex, three Sun Bowls in El Paso, and a pair of Bluebonnet Bowls in Houston.
But this will be OU’s first appearance in the Alamo Bowl.
The game will kick off at 8:15 p.m. and be televised on ESPN.
The coaching storyline figures to be prominent in the game — with Bob Stoops serving as the Sooners’ interim coach as one of his former assistants, Brent Venables, was reported to be heading to take over the program, and rumors swirling about Mario Cristobal’s status at Oregon.
Sports Illustrated reported Sunday afternoon that Miami had given Cristobal a deadline of mid-day Monday to accept the Hurricanes job, though head coach Manny Diaz had yet to be fired.
By Monday, though, Diaz was out at Miami and Cristobal was set to take over the Hurricanes, leaving Oregon without a head coach for the Alamo Bowl.
Neither Cristobal nor Stoops answered questions from media during a short Zoom to announce the bowl matchup Sunday, instead Alamo Bowl officials asked the coaches questions.
Stoops was asked an open-ended question about his previous matchups against Oregon, and brought up the 2006 game.
That controversial 34-33 Ducks win in Eugene is one of the losses that eats at Stoops even still.
“You don’t want me talking about the 2006 game,” Stoops said, before talking about the game. “Somebody sent me a picture of my running back, Allen Patrick, showing the whole world the football (after recovering an Oregon onside kick), and the official’s pointing into the pile saying that Oregon had that ball. But … that’s water under the bridge.”
Stoops has plenty to focus on outside of that game 15 years ago, but it remains a sore subject.
“You guys may think it’s funny,” Stoops said of that game in 2014. “I still can’t laugh about it.”
OU led that game 33-20 with less than 90 seconds to go before a wild sequence that included an onside kick after Oregon scored to make it 33-27 with 1:12 remaining.
The Sooners’ Allen Patrick came out with the ball, and replay showed the ball hit an Oregon player before traveling the required 10 yards.
But the ball was awarded to the Ducks anyway, and replay didn’t correct the mistake.
Oregon scored the go-ahead touchdown with 46 seconds left, Garrett Hartley’s field-goal try was blocked as time expired, and both the on-field officiating crew and replay crew was eventually suspended.
“That was awful,” Stoops said in 2014. “It really was. You could almost accept it at the time if you didn’t have replay. But that’s what made it so egregious.”
Stoops’ resignation in the summer of 2017 was an abrupt one, with no farewell season or game as he retired and Lincoln Riley was immediately elevated as his replacement.
Now, with Riley’s sudden departure to USC, Stoops will get a send-off in a place where the Sooners have played just one game — the 2007 Big 12 Championship Game.
OU dismantled No. 1 Missouri in that game, 38-17.
That 2006 game against Oregon is the Sooners’ only loss to the Ducks in seven all-time meetings.
This will be the second bowl matchup between the two, the other coming in the 2005 Holiday Bowl, which the Sooners won 17-14.
The Ducks started the season 9-1, including a win at Ohio State in early September, but were blown out twice by Utah in the last three weeks, including a 38-10 Utes win in the Pac 12 Championship Game on Friday, knocking them into the Alamo Bowl.
The bowl announcement came in the middle of a whirlwind for Stoops, who was named OU’s interim coach Nov. 28 just after Riley’s departure, hit the road recruiting for the Sooners, was in Indianapolis for Fox’s coverage of the Big Ten Championship Game, then flew to Las Vegas for his Tuesday induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Stoops hopes when he gets back, things will settle down a bit as he helped OU prepare for the bowl.
“Hopefully we hire a head coach and I don’t have to go out recruiting this week,” Stoops said.
OU VS. OREGON: 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 29, at the Alamodome in San Antonio (ESPN)
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OU Sooners football to make first Alamo Bowl appearance against Oregon