The longest tenured coach in college football won’t be on the sidelines when the 2017-18 football season begins in August. After 18 seasons, Bob Stoops is calling it a career.
The man who returned Oklahoma to football prominence and earned the nickname “Big Game Bob” stepped down as the Sooners’ football coach on Wednesday, leaving the team to offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley for the upcoming season.
“After 18 years at the University of Oklahoma, I’ve decided to step down as the head football coach,” Bob Stoops said in a statement reported by ESPN. He went on to say that it was the perfect time to hand the reins over. With the team in great shape, with great coaches and players, the team is poised to make a run at the Big 12, not to mention a Nation Championship.
When Stoops took over in Norman in 1999, the Sooners had slipped into mediocrity under Howard Schnellenberger and John Blake, having failed to make a bowl game in any of their four seasons. Quickly, Bob Stoops set to work changing that, never failing to reach a bowl game in 18 years in Norman. After going 7-5 in his first year in Oklahoma, Stoops pulled everything together in his second season with a 13-0 campaign that brought the 2000 national championship to Oklahoma when the Sooners finished the job with a 13-2 victory over Florida State.
Stoops proceeded to win another major bowl game two years later when Oklahoma defeated Washington State in the Rose Bowl, earning him the label of “Big Game Bob”. Over the years, that label occasionally became an albatross for Bob Stoops when the Sooners fell in the national championship game on three separate occasions, losing to LSU in 2003, USC in 2004 and Florida in 2008. Overall, Stoops’ bowl game record was a pedestrian 9-9.
But when it came to the Big 12 championship game, nobody could match Stoops, who went 7-1 in the league’s annual battle of the North Division champion against the South Division. Stoops’ only defeat came in 2003 against his mentor Bill Snyder and Kansas State; otherwise, Oklahoma’s average margin of victory in the Big 12 title game under Stoops was 20.4 points. When the league’s championship game was eliminated in 2011, the Sooners won another three conference titles, including the past two league crowns.
Stoops leaves with a record of 190-48 in 18 seasons in charge, all of them with Oklahoma. During his time in Norman, only Boise State had a better winning percentage than his .798 mark. He will remain employed by the university as an assistant to the athletic director.
Lincoln Riley will be the new Oklahoma coach when the Sooners face off against Texas-El Paso on Sept. 2. He previously worked at Texas Tech and East Carolina as an assistant before moving to Oklahoma as Bob Stoops’ offensive coordinator in 2015. The Sooners finished 2016 ranked fifth overall and will be expected to be a contender for a national title.
Readers, what do you expect will happen for Lincoln Riley as he takes over? How will you remember Stoops? Is he an all-time great in your mind? Sound off in the comments and like and share this story!
Commentary by Dan Angell