For the first time in almost 19 years, Bob Stoops won’t be on the sideline as the head coach of the Oklahoma Sooner football team.
Stoops, the winningest coach in OU history, has retired and OU offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley was named the new head coach.
Stoops has the most wins in Oklahoma football history and won of 10 Big 12 Conference titles plus the 2000 national championship.
Stoops has a 190-48 (.798) record at OU and coached the Sooners to a school-record 18 consecutive bowl berths. He is the only coach to win the Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl and the national championship. He had more victories over his first 18 seasons than any coach in the game’s history. Stoops had 14 seasons with 10 or more wins and 17 seasons with at least eight wins. Under Stoops, OU finished in the AP Top 5 seven times.
Stoops guided the Sooners to the most wins of any Power 5 program over the last 18 years. Among those programs, only Ohio State can claim a better winning percentage during the span.
Stoops had a 60-30 record against AP Top 25 opponents. OU’s .667 winning percentage in such contests is the best in the country over the last 18 years and the win total is tied with LSU for second behind Alabama (65).
A six-time Big 12 Coach of the Year and two-time national coach of the year, Stoops was responsible for reviving OU football. In the nine years prior to his arrival in 1999, OU posted a 54-46-3 record (.529) and went 31-33-2 (.485) in conference play. In the four years before he was hired, the Sooners were 17-27-1 (.389) overall and 10-21 (.323) in Big Eight play.
After going 7-5 in 1999 in his debut year in Norman, Stoops promptly directed OU to its seventh national title by going 13-0 and beating Florida State 13-2 in the Orange Bowl. The Sooners played in three more BCS National Championship Games under Stoops and made the four-team College Football Playoff in 2015. They spent 30 weeks in the AP poll’s No. 1 spot and were atop the BCS standings for a nation-leading 20 weeks. OU’s 123 top-five appearances in the AP poll the last 18 years are second only to Alabama’s 129.
Oklahoma has amassed 10 league titles over the last 18 years while no other Big 12 program has won more than two during the stretch. OU posted a 121-29 (.807) regular season league record under Stoops, outdistancing the second- and third-best marks (Texas, .693; Kansas State, .560).
Under Stoops, the Sooners have a 101-9 home record with all 110 of those games sellouts. The .918 home winning percentage is the best among Power 5 programs over the last 18 years (Ohio State is second at .882).
In 2016, OU led the nation in passing efficiency rating (mark of 193.79 set an FBS record) and pass completion percentage (.706), and ranked second in total offense (554.8 ypg), third in scoring offense (43.9 ppg) and third down conversion percentage (.515). Quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Dede Westbrook finished third and fourth in Heisman Trophy voting, while Westbrook was a unanimous All-American and OU’s first recipient of the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s outstanding receiver.
Riley, 33, is OU’s 22nd head coach. He has spent the previous two seasons as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Riley was the recipient of the 2015 Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach following his first season in Norman.
Riley came to OU after five seasons at East Carolina where he held the titles of assistant head coach/offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2014) and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2010-13). Prior to East Carolina, Riley spent seven seasons at his alma mater, Texas Tech, where he was part of seven bowl teams and five bowl wins.
Some reactions to Stoops’ retirement:
- “Bob did a tremendous job turning things around at Oklahoma and putting their program back in national prominence,” former Texas coach Mack Brown said in a statement. “Our rivalry game became a focal point of college football every year and was great for both schools, the Big 12 and college football as a whole. He leaves Oklahoma with a long track record of success and will be remembered as a Sooner legend. I wish him the best.”
- “I spent a lot of time with him at Phoenix (Big 12 Coaches Meetings and Fiesta Bowl gathering) out by the pool and talking,” said Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy. “I knew he wasn’t going to do this forever. He has a really tough job. He has good players but always off the chart expectations from about everybody involved with that school. He’s done a good job but you can tell it has taken a toll on him. It does. He’s had some skin cancer, a knee replacement, and a hip replacement. He has his two sons that are seniors and maybe he wants to spend more time with them and watching them play.
“I did not know he was going to do this now. I was a little taken back by it like everybody.”
- “Coach Stoops’ record of success and his legacy at Oklahoma are well documented and firmly established,” said Texas coach Tom Herman. “I was a young graduate assistant at Texas when he took over at Oklahoma. At the time, they were struggling and he changed that in a hurry. He was driven, passionate and determined to build something great, and he did so at an extremely high level for a long, long time. He’ll be sorely missed at Oklahoma, in the Big 12 and the landscape of college football.”
- “Bob Stoops is one of the greatest college football coaches ever to walk the sideline,” said Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. “It was an honor to play and coach against him. I wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors and golf game.”
- “He didn’t want to go from the sidelines to the graveyard,” former Florida coach Steve Spurrier told ESPN. “He pretty much was able to go out on top.”
- “Bob truly represents what is good about college football and the success of his career speaks for itself,” said his brother, Mark Stoops, head coach at Kentucky. “What he means to me as a brother and a coach is immeasurable. I wish Bob, Carol and the kids the very best as he moves into the next phase of his life.”
- “He didn’t want to go from the sidelines to the graveyard,” former coach Steve Spurrier told ESPN. “He pretty much was able to go out on top.”
- “Thank you for everything Coach,” said OU quarterback Baker Mayfield. “You turned a little boy’s dreams into a reality. I will be forever grateful.’
- “Bob is a tremendous mentor to so many players and coaches, including myself,” Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said in a statement. “Not only is he a great mentor to me, but he and his wife, Carol, have been great friends to Char and I for many years. His success and longevity speak for themselves. He will be a success in whatever he pursues.”
- “The departure of Coach Stoops as head coach is a bittersweet time,” said OU President David Boren. “I agree completely that we have exactly the right person already in place to take the helm. Coach Riley enjoys the complete confidence of the administration and university community. He has the talent and personal character to be a worthy successor to Coach Stoops.”
- “Working alongside him has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job,” said OU Athletic Director Joe Castiglione, who hired Stoops. “Few athletics directors get a coach who better combines success and cohesiveness like Bob Stoops. I can’t help but feel somewhat sad today because Bob has been such a constant in my life, and that’s why I am so thankful that he will remain with us. He will continue to do great things for OU.
“At the same time, I am thrilled that Lincoln Riley is in position to take over as the head coach. He is widely regarded as one of the brightest minds in college football and there is no question in my mind that he is the complete package. Our program is in very good hands.”
- “I especially appreciate that he had a winning record against the University of Texas,” said Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin. “I’ll miss seeing Coach Stoops on the sidelines, but I wish him and his family the best.”
- “From the moment he stepped on campus, Bob has led with dignity and professionalism that is justly admired throughout sports,” said Clay Bennett, chairman of the OU Board of Regents. “During his time at Oklahoma he not only built upon our tradition, but moved it forward in a way that has made Sooners everywhere proud.”
- “I want to thank Coach Stoops for bringing me here two years ago and making me part of the Sooner family,” said Riley. “He is one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game, at any level. I’m absolutely thankful for our friendship and for the mentorship he has provided.”
Reactions to the hiring of Riley:
- “The program is in tremendous shape,” said Bob Stoops. “We have outstanding players and coaches and are poised to make another run at a Big 12 and national championship. We have new state-of-the-art facilities and a great start on next year’s recruiting class. The time is now because Lincoln Riley will provide a seamless transition as the new head coach, capitalizing on an excellent staff that is already in place and providing familiarity and confidence for our players. Now is simply the ideal time for me and our program to make this transition. The Bible says, ‘To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the Heaven.” I’m grateful for this season of my life, and feel I’ve fulfilled…”
- “His decision to step down at this time was motivated partly by his belief that he has the right successor already in place in the program, Lincoln Riley, and he wanted to pass the leadership on at a time of strength for the program,” said Boren. “I’m glad that Coach Stoops will remain an active member of our university family and will continue to serve the athletics department and be of help to our new head coach.”
- “Lincoln and I have a great relationship and I can’t wait to embark on this new era with him,” said Castiglione. “I am sure our fans share my enthusiasm.”
- “Lincoln Riley has asserted himself as one of the brightest young minds in all of college football, and the results over the past two seasons as offensive coordinator for the Sooners speak for themselves,”said Bennett. “He has embraced the culture of being an Oklahoma Sooner, and I’m looking forward to watching him on the sidelines this coming fall as he leads our team.”