Bob Stoops stunned the college football world Wednesday, resigning as head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners.
Stoops spent 18 years in Norman. He went 190-48, won a national title – not to mention 10 Big 12 titles – and is the winningest coach in program history. He’s also only 56, which makes his decision even more shocking.
Unless you dig a little deeper.
“On the surface, when it comes out, we’re all sort of surprised because he’s 56, because it’s June, because he’s got a team that’s going to be in the top 10 in the preseason polls,” USA Today college football writer Dan Wolken said on CBS Sports Radio’s Reiter Than You. “But the more you dig into it, the more people you talk to, I think it makes a lot of sense. There’s a few things at play here. One, these jobs just grind you down. College football is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The recruiting is brutal, the pressure is brutal, you got to deal with people’s off-field issues, you got to deal with parents – it wears you down. And Stoops has done it (for) 18 years (and) maintained an unbelievable level of excellence.”
There’s also family history at play. Stoops’ father, Ron, a former high school football coach, died at 54.
“He died of a heart attack on the football field in Youngstown, Ohio,” Wolken said, “and Bob stoops has talked for a long time about not wanting to coach forever, about looking after his own health, about the fact that he does have a genetic heart condition that he’s got to monitor.”
That means managing his stress, weight, and health, which isn’t easy for head football coaches at major programs.
“I think you have a lot of money in the bank, you feel like you’ve got your life in order, his twin boys are high school seniors,” Wolken said, “and he looked at it and said, ‘The program’s in a great place. I’ve got a successor right next to me. This is a great time time to do it.’ And this is what he’s doing.”
That successor is offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, who has spent two seasons with the Sooners. At 33, he is the youngest head coach in FBS.
Stoops, meanwhile, will head into early retirement, as Wolken believes he has coached his final game.
“I would never say never, and certainly people are going to call,” Wolken said. “But I tend to think that he’s done. You can’t predict the future. His feeling in three years may be different. But for the people who know him best, they legitimately think that this is it and he’s walking away, that he’s going to walk into the Hall of Fame. He’s won a national title, he’s accomplished everything he wants – there’s not going to be a whole lot of reason for him to come back. He’s pretty satisfied with where he is.”