Posted on June 7, 2017, by Travis Pulver
For almost two decades, college football fans have been able to count on one thing from the Big 12 Conference. ‘Big Game Bob’ Stoops would have the Oklahoma Sooners in the thick of the conference title hunt and quite possibly the national title hunt as well. However, that is not the case anymore.
Bob Stoops has stepped down as the head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners.
The announcement came as a bit of a shock. At 56, he is not exactly old, and there are no known health issues. There haven’t been any rumors of anything even remotely inappropriate that would typically call for a coach to step down. But after 18 seasons, one national title, ten conference titles, a record of 190-48 including only nine home losses, and 15 top 25 finishes he decided it was time.
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“He didn’t want to go from the sidelines to the graveyard,” former Florida coach Steve Spurrier told ESPN on Wednesday. “He pretty much was able to go out on top.”
It is not unusual to see college coaches stay with their teams well into their 60s and 70s. It is unusual to see someone in good healthy walk away from a team that has been one of the best in the country in recent years and is expected to be one of the best again. But he is doing just that.
Stoops has not given any concrete reasons for his sudden departure, but an ESPN post alluded to two potential ones. His father, Ron, had a heart attack while coaching a high school and died later that night. He also never wanted to get to a point where the school forced him out.
He wanted to leave on his own terms and leaves a very good program in the hands of his former offensive coordinator, Lincoln Riley, who is now the youngest head coach in college football at just 33 years old.
The staff is in place, otherwise, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he acted as his own offensive coordinator. At this point in the year, there aren’t exactly going to be too many quality candidates. But since he’s done the job the last two years it shouldn’t be a problem for him.
It’s not like he has a young, inexperienced quarterback that will need to have his hand held. Baker Mayfield is a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist that will likely compete for the trophy again this year.
So, the offense will be fine but what about the team? Is a 33-year old ready to take over a major college football program? Plenty of successful coaches got their shot when they were in their early 30s so there is no reason to think he can’t do it.
Fans will not know for sure if he can do it for a few years. This season will still have Stoops’ stamp on it and will be just fine. The trick will be in retaining his coaching staff and keeping up with recruiting. The staff was loyal to Stoops. They may not feel the same need to stick around after the coming season.
For years, recruits have been able to count on the stability that was Bob Stoops—but not anymore. Riley has only been with the program a couple of years. While he comes with a great resume, he doesn’t have a long history with the Sooners.
This season will likely go pretty smooth for Oklahoma but fans are going to have to wait until Riley gets a chance to stretch his head-coaching legs to get an idea of what the future holds for the Sooners.