Bob Stoops shocked the college football world on June 7 when he announced his retirement as the head football coach at Oklahoma.
When Stoops made his abrupt retirement announcement, there were all kinds of speculation as the “real” reason for his sudden departure from the Sooners.
The Oklahoma football program was in great shape with a championship-caliber team coming back for the 2017 season and the recruiting success was at an all-time high.
At 56, Stoops was in the prime of the “normal” coaching age.
Stoops said it was time to step down and time for Lincoln Riley to step up.
Riley came to Oklahoma two years prior to be the offensive coordinator after Stoops fired former national championship-winning quarterback Josh Heupel.
In his first two years manning the Sooners’ offense, Riley took the nation by storm with his potent balanced attack that made Oklahoma arguably the top offense in college football in 2015 and 2016.
Following last year’s Sugar Bowl blowout win over Auburn, there was all kinds of speculation around Riley and whether or not the young offensive coordinator was in line to for a head coaching job.
With all of the rumors, Stoops made sure he would have his offensive coordinator for at least one more season, making him one of the highest paid assistant coaches in the nation with a $1.3 million annual salary.
I don’t know if Stoops can see the future or if he is a mind-reader but he knew who he wanted to replace him as the next head football coach at Oklahoma. That was Riley.
Stoops said he had mulled retirement but he did not want to leave the program that he had rejuvenated to just anyone. Riley was that guy and Stoops knew in order to secure the future of Oklahoma football he needed to make a sacrifice and step down and hand the reins to Riley.
Imagine if Stoops hadn’t stepped down and allowed Riley to take over this past summer. How many of those athletic directors with coaching vacancies would have invaded Norman to try and steal Riley away from the Sooners?
Quick answer, all of them.
Riley would have been on the top of the list of every school looking for a new head coach. It would have been tough for an offensive coordinator to say no to the likes of Florida, UCLA or Texas A&M.
Simply put, Riley would have been gone.
Since becoming the head football coach at Oklahoma, all Riley has done is lead the Sooners to a 11-1 regular season record, a Big 12 championship, coached leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy, directed the best offense in college football and taken Oklahoma back to the College Football Playoff with a great chance at winning the school’s eighth national championship.
Stoops was great, and I do believe that he could have had the same success this season as Riley has had. He will forever be remembered as one of the best coaches in college football history but one of the things OU fans will most remember him for will be his sacrifice he made to secure the future of Oklahoma football and the continued success of the program he brought back to life 18 years ago.