After 18 years in Norman, Bob Stoops resigned as head football coach at Oklahoma on Wednesday – and almost no one saw it coming.
“It’s been one of the most surreal days that I can ever remember,” Sooners voice Toby Rowland said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I think everyone around here is shocked and saddened. There is a lot of you that’s happy for the man. He’s been here for 18 years. That is a long time. He was the longest-tenured active coach in all of college football, and he did so much for this program.”
Stoops, 56, went 190-48, won a national title, won 10 Big 12 titles, and is the winningest coach in program history.
“They were down and out when he took over,” Rowland said. “They hadn’t been on the radar in a decade since the end of the Barry Switzer era, and Bob Stoops made them matter again. He made OU football a monster again. And for almost two decades, it has been quite a ride around here.”
Stoops went 9-9 in bowl games, including 1-3 in national championships.
“They haven’t won all the big games, but they’ve been in all of them,” Rowland said, “and they’ve won a championship and 10 Big 12 championships. They won every one of the BCS bowls. He’s been unbelievable. Nobody saw this coming. He’s only 56 years old. They thought he would coach for another seven, eight, maybe 10 years and step aside. For it to happen this suddenly, it’s one of the most shocking days that we’ve had around here in a long time – probably since Kevin Durant left last July 4 for sure.”
Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley will replace Stoops.
“He’s 33 years old,” Rowland said in disbelief. “He’s going to be the youngest Division I football coach in America, and he has one of the premier jobs. He is at one of the five or six biggest jobs in all of the land. It’s unbelievable.”
Now he just needs to win.
“I like Lincoln Riley a lot,” Rowland said. “I think he is innovative. I think he’s creative. He’s incredibly personable. In the couple of years we’ve been around him, his ability to relate to student-athletes – he’s got a dynamic personality. And obviously he’s a very creative play-caller. His offenses have been unbelievable since he’s been here. What he’s done with Baker Mayfield and Sterling Shepard and Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine and Dede Westbrook is record-setting for the last couple of years.
“Now, not all coordinators are great head coaches, so I don’t know,” Rowland continued. “I don’t know until you give a guy the big office whether or not he’s capable of continuing to win. I would say everybody around here is very excited. He certainly has a youthful exuberance to him that is kind of intoxicating to be around. I think he’ll do very good at recruiting. I think he’ll continue to have very good offenses, and we’ll see what kind of a team leader he is.”