In a rather shocking move, longtime Oklahoma head football coach Bob Stoops has decided to step down from his role as the leader of the program. 33-year-old offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley has since been promoted as the new head coach.
Stoops addressed the move in this press release:
“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.”
When looking at his body of work, it’s easy to see why Stoops has been widely regarded as one of the best in the profession. In 18 years with OU, Stoops has accrued a 190-48 record. Oklahoma has won more games in this span than any other Power 5 program. His teams have made 18-straight bowl appearances — including 10 Big 12 titles, a National Championship (2000), and wins in each of the major four bowl contests (Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl). Stoops is the only coach to ever win all five of these games.
To date, he’s also the winningest coach in Oklahoma football history.
On the surface this move makes little to no sense. Oklahoma is one of the consistent programs in the sport, and constantly battles for supremacy within the college football landscape. The timing of this decision is also fascinating. Stoops participated with the program during spring ball, but will depart before the ever-important fall camp period begins. It does help Oklahoma from the standpoint that Riley can begin to put his fingerprints all over the program prior to the start of the season.
There could be some reasoning behind Stoops leaving the program. For one, he got considerable backlash for how he handled the entire Joe Mixon situation. Many believed Stoops should’ve dismissed Mixon for his heinous assault of a young woman. Duly, he chose to keep star WR Dede Westbrook at school — despite a laundry list of severe accusations. While winning certainly hasn’t been a problem in Norman, Oklahoma has lost three of its last five bowl appearances.
All of these things could contribute possibly to the stepping down of the iconic coach. However, he also might be looking for a fresh start. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him in an announcer’s booth during this upcoming year. With that said, he’ll certainly be a commodity the following year — assuming he still wants to coach.
An interesting fit would be UCLA. It appears that Jim Mora may be on the hot seat, and could be itching to get back to the NFL in some capacity. In Westwood, Stoops would enter a low-pressure situation with a fertile recruiting base and a brand new state-of-the-art football facility.
Only time will tell as to what Stoops ultimately does for his next career move.
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