Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops Calls It a Career

By Darreck Kirby
PSDC Head Writer

NORMAN, OK. It was a warm Wednesday in Norman, Oklahoma, a day like any other. Until it wasn’t. With the start of the college football season looming, the University of Oklahoma finds itself at the end of an era.

Bob-Stoops-Calls-it-a-Career-Article

For the past 18 years, the Oklahoma Sooners have been helmed by “Big Game Bob” Stoops. Hired in 1999 following a series of disappointing seasons, Stoops immediately injected life into a program that had seemingly lost its way. After going 7-5 in his first season, Stoops would lead Oklahoma to shock the college football world by upsetting the defending champion, Florida State in the 2000 National Championship. The victory not only brought the University of Oklahoma their 7th National Championship but cemented Stoops’s “Big Game Bob” moniker in the process. It was a signal to the world that Oklahoma was back. And back they were.

The Sooners would go on to appear in three more national title games under Stoops, though they would never again claim college football’s greatest prize. Nevertheless, the program flourished. In his 18 years, Stoops became the winningest coach in the program’s history, racking up an absurd record of 190-48 and becoming the first -and to date the only coach to win each of the four BCS bowls. Along the way, he would win 10 Big 12 Championships. Texas comes in second during that span with 3 conference titles. So what does this tell us?

While many were spoiled by OU’s early success under Stoops, it can’t be overlooked that the Iowa native held a 79.8% win percentage and absolutely dominated his conference. There were lows along the way, sure. But many times Stoops seemed to operate best as the underdog, see their 2014 Sugar Bowl victory over a vastly superior Alabama team that should’ve been in the National Championship.

Need more evidence? Look again at the 2017 Sugar Bowl, Stoops’s final game.

So for a man who is the face of Oklahoma football in the modern era, how did we find ourselves here? Well, despite being only 56 years old, Stoops has remained adamant throughout his career that he would retire on his own time. Typically when someone says that, it implies they intend to stay well into their sixties or even into their seventies. Or, in the case of Joe Pa at Penn State, pretty much forever.

Just two years after naming Lincoln Riley, the young and highly sought offensive coordinator from Eastern Carolina, Stoops felt certain he’d found his successor. More importantly, he felt he had nothing left to prove. Sure, he was returning talented team with Big 12 and potentially even national championship aspirations this season, but, as he said in his retirement press conference Wednesday, he wanted to ensure he was leaving the program in good hands.

“After 18 years at the University of Oklahoma, I’ve decided to step down as the head football coach. I understand there has been some speculation about my health. My health was not the deciding factor in this decision and I’ve had no incidents that would prevent me from coaching. I feel the timing is perfect to hand over the reins. The program is in tremendous shape. We have outstanding players and coaches and are poised to make another run at a Big 12 and national championship. We have new state-of-the-art facilities and a great start on next year’s recruiting class. The time is now because Lincoln Riley will provide a seamless transition as the new head coach, capitalizing on an excellent staff that is already in place and providing familiarity and confidence for our players. Now is simply the ideal time for me and our program to make this transition.”

The last time Norman watched as a new head coach took the field, it was 1999. In all that time that coach only failed to reach double-digit wins in 4 seasons. The shoes left to fill are sizable, to say the least. But as Lincoln Riley takes on the reigns of one of college football’s most historic programs -becoming the youngest coach in FBS in the process, he finds it in a better place. He, and all of Sooner nation have Bob Stoops to thank for that.

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