Bob Stoops retired from coaching after 2016, but now his Oklahoma job is open after Lincoln Riley took the job at USC. Stoops is expected to be the interim head coach for OU, but here are four reasons why it makes sense to hire Stoops full-time.
He can hit the ground running
While Stoops retired in 2017, he’s been around the Oklahoma program that entire time, either in some sort of pseudo-head coach emeritus, as a sounding board for Riley, or as a fan watching his son Drake play at OU. His current gig is as a studio analyst for Fox every Saturday. The hardest thing to do in a coaching search like this is to find a replacement with local knowledge, one that understands the fan base, the administrative expectations and the recruiting board without missing a beat. Stoops gets it because helped build it. He handed it to Riley and he maintained what Stoops built. The program is as in good a shape as when he left it. Stoops can hit the ground running. The curve will likely be the transfer portal, but if anyone can convince a Sooner not to follow Riley to California, it’s Stoops.
Are you going to find someone more successful?
I’m not saying that Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione shouldn’t look at the coaching landscape and get a feel for what is out there. But are you going to find someone with a better track record than Stoops? He won 190 games and a national championship, for crying out loud. Seriously? Who are you going to find that’s better, at least in the short term? You’re not luring Nick Saban to Norman. Texas already tried that.
The move to the SEC
Oklahoma is preparing for life in the SEC. That’s something that Riley had no knowledge of. He never coached in the conference in any capacity. Stoops, however, gets it. Before he was the head coach at Oklahoma, he was knee-deep in The Swamp as Steve Spurrier’s defensive coordinator at Florida. He helped them win a national title. Sure, it’s been 20 or so years since Stoops has coached in the SEC, but the intensity of those games and that conference hasn’t changed. This isn’t just a hire for the Big 12 — it’s a hire for the SEC, and Castiglione has to approach it that way. There aren’t many candidates that have that SEC knowledge in their toolbox.
Age isn’t a factor
Stoops retired young, so young in fact that some wondered why. He wasn’t even in his 60s when he stepped aside. Now 61, Stoops is still young enough to take over the program and give it another good 5-10 years, if that’s what he wishes. Keep in mind that one of his former Big 12 contemporaries, North Carolina’s Mack Brown, is 70 years old. The game’s gold standard, Alabama’s Nick Saban, is 70. Oddly enough, I ran into Stoops briefly in the tunnel at the Ohio State-Michigan game on Saturday, since he was there for the Fox kickoff pre-game. He looked like he hadn’t aged a day since he retired.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.