image via thecomeback.com
It is still very surreal. . .
Bob Stoops —
The man who reinvented Oklahoma football.
One-hundred and ninety wins.
Ten Big 12 titles.
One National Championship
The winningest coach in the program’s history.
The name synonymous with Oklahoma football announces his retirement on a inconspicuous, warm-summer day in June.
In many ways, this was quintessential Stoops. No hype or build up to the announcement, just a casual, modest and classy goodbye. Quick, concise, and to-the-point. He passes of the reigns to former offensive coordinator, Lincoln Riley who many pinned as being the next head coach at Oklahoma.
For many, including us here, it was a day of both reflection and trying to put the whole situation together. There is no way to really sum up Bob Stoops’ career at Oklahoma. The scope is just too wide to really grasp it all at once. From turning around a program stuck in mediocrity into a national championship winner in just two years. The most iconic players he’s produced from Adrian Peterson, Tommie Harris, Roy Williams, Sam Bradford, and DeMarco Murray among so many more. Dominating the Big 12 during a time when Texas, Nebraska, Kansas State, and even Texas Tech were contending for national titles. To really put his career in perspective will take some time and this post is focused more on the situation.
So, let’s break this into a two parts:
As you probably heard in the press conference and in today’s podcast…the timing was just right. What does this mean? For one, Bob Stoops is about family. His son’s Issac and Drake are both entering their senior years of high school, and up to this point, Stoops has rarely been able to see them play football. To add, both have offers to play at the next level and as such, Stoops likely wants to be there for their recruitment.
It remains to be seen whether health factored into the decision. Stoops has made it clear a number of times that health is important to him, especially after the the passing of his father. There were a few reports that suggest this weighed into his decisions, while Stoops himself denied it in his statement. However even if health did weigh-in, Stoops likely would never admit to that. As for my opinion — it was not THE factor but it was a part of the decision to some extent.
The biggest factor is Lincoln Riley. There are a number of jobs that could open up after this season, namely Texas A&M and Tennessee. If Oklahoma has another successful season, his name is near or at the top of the list for those jobs. The window for keeping him was closing, and if Lincoln Riley were to become the next head coach at Oklahoma, both Stoops and the administration knew the move needed to be made now. This would not have happened if Stoops is not confident in the ability of Lincoln Riley. Oklahoma is in the top-echelon of college football. They do not make this kind of move unless they know with 100% certainty who their guy is.
Lastly, he gets to leave the program on his own accord and on a very, very high note. Coming off yet another win against an SEC team, landing one of the top recruiting classes last cycle, and opening one of the premier facilities in the nation…that’s leaving a program better off than when you started and then some. On top of that, the transition is nearly seamless. You’re not implementing a new system. You’re not adopting a new culture. You give it to a guy that has been around the program for two years now, knows the players, coaches, and administration. The move, while shocking, makes sense.
The Lincoln Riley era has officially started and with it comes a lot of excitement, a lot questions and a lot of unknowns. Starting off with the positives, Riley seems to be a guy that is really going to take on the challenges and responsibilities associated with being the head coach at the University of Oklahoma.
As far as recruiting, there really isn’t a better name on the market. Riley is a young, hotshot coach that will appeal to this generation of recruits in ways that Stoops likely could not. Engaging, energetic, relatable, and most of all he’s the “next big thing” in college football. He is starting a new era of Oklahoma football. That’s what gets the attention of recruits, that’s what will give him a chance to land some big-time names. Oklahoma now has big opportunity in front of itself to recruit at a level it hasn’t done since the early-to-mid 2000’s.
That is the intrigue and the excitement. However it does not come without questions, the biggest maybe being what happens with defensive coordinator, Mike Stoops.
The notion has been for years that Bob protected his brother when many were calling for a change at the coaching position. Should the defense struggle this year, how does Lincoln Riley react? However, Mike Stoops perspective is just as interesting. Does he agree with the coaching change? How will he get along with a head coach who does not have as much experience as he does? Will he look elsewhere now that Bob is gone? It will be very, very interesting to see how this situation plays out and how quickly.
However this is what we do know — the Lincoln Riley era is here. He inherits a program that is not looking to rebuild, but to go further. There is talent on the roster that can win games now and for the foreseeable future. The territory, while unfamiliar, is exciting.