(Former) Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops surprisingly retired earlier this afternoon less than three months before the Sooners kick off on September 2. Lincoln Riley will lead the Sooners for the time being. The shocking announcement leaves college football fans with more questions than answers. The most frequent among them being – why step down when you’ve got a Heisman-caliber QB in Baker Mayfield returning?
The twitterverse seems to think that a scandal will soon be unearthed. While Stoops does not appear frail enough to pull the JoePa move of croaking in the face of numerous NCAA violations, the reasoning behind the sudden decision remains up in the air. I do not want to speculate. I just hope that Stoops has nothing wrong health-wise. We’ll just have to see this one plays out.
In case you were wondering, my favorite Bob Stoops memory was when my cousin’s K-State Wildcats almost pulled off a wild comeback at OU in 2001. Here he is, mid-pancake.
Here’s what I know: (1) Bill Snyder is now without a doubt the best coach in the conference. Stoops was an assistant coach for a short time under Snyder in Manhattan. (2) Stoops’ replacement – Lincoln Riley – now the youngest head coach at the FBS level, has his work cut out for him. (3) This move now makes Iowa Hawkeye headman Kirk Ferentz the longest-tenured coach in college football. Iowa will surely extend Ferentz’s contract until 2030 after the Hawkeyes’ next 9-win season. Both Stoops and Ferentz began coaching at their respective posts in 1999. A former DB at Iowa, I have often dreamt about where the program might be today had Stoops taken the job in Iowa City. Instead, we got Kirk Ferentz.
This is in no way a bad thing, as Captain Kirk may soon surpass coaching legend Hayden Fry in Hawkeye lore. Here’s the thing. Iowa’s brand of football has not translated well across conferences in recent years. This has resulted in the Hawks being embarrassed on the national stage time and time again. The program has lost its last 5 bowl games, and none have really been close. At some point, Hawkeye fans have got to get tired of hearing how well-run the program is and actually start expecting to compete for B1G titles, right?
Let’s get back on track. Bob Stoops won’t distance himself too far from the program. He plans to remain in Norman as a special assistant to the athletic director. In the few hours since this story broke, it appears as though he was able to leave on his own terms. Who’d fault a guy who reached the peak of his profession and was able to retire happily at age 56? This news from a college football heavyweight is nonetheless surprising, especially during both the Stanley Cup Final and NBA Finals.