The offensive coordinator was Bill Snyder, who would become the head coach at Kansas State and hired Stoops as his defensive backs coach and then promoted him to defensive coordinator. Stoops learned Snyder's famed discipline and attention to detail and applied it to the way he organized and instructed his defense.
Players were taught to win in a base defense without many exotic designs. They were asked to use strength and effort to win one-on-one battles and to rely on patience and determination to execute assignments.
"Sometimes you do things that put yourself in trouble and people look for it and try to take advantage of it," Stoops said. "You can pick your times when you change it up and blitz and what not, but we're counting on technique and fundamentals to play good, solid defense to win. Our focus is not to try to fool somebody by running the right blitz at the right time."
Stoops and Snyder would later bring Stoops' brother Mike on board as an assistant. Stoops hired Mike as Oklahoma's defensive coordinator when he was named the head coach in 1999. From 2000-03, Mike's defense finished in the top 10 and was no worse than seventh. In Mike's eight seasons as the Arizona coach, the Sooners finished in the top 10 once and no better than seventh.
"Players ultimately are the ones that win and lose for you, but I do believe in the last couple of years, for whatever reason - and we've really looked at it - that our defense hasn't been quite as strong as what we've been used to in our first 10, 12 years," Stoops said.
"When we've worked together, it's been pretty positive when you look at our years either competing at Iowa together as players but also the years at Kansas State coaching defense together. His years with us at Oklahoma up to 2003, we did pretty well overall."
Mike was fired by the Wildcats last season and Bob hired his brother in the offseason. The team's former defensive coordinator, Brent Venables, left for Clemson, which needed a defensive coordinator when it made a change after the 70-33 loss to the Mountaineers in the Orange Bowl.
"Mike's had a lot to do with it, along with our other defensive coaches, but he believes in being very disciplined and very technique-oriented and physical and he's always been true to the belief that you don't play great defense by trying to fool people and trying to blitz all the time," Bob said.
It's worked. The Sooners have 19 sacks, two fewer than the Mountaineers, who have struggled to find and use a pass rush all season. They instead succeed in the categories that define the way they play because they've redefined their style this season.
"Every game," Hurst said, "we want to go out and dominate."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.