On a day he was celebrated by the Oklahoma Legislature, former Sooners coach Bob Stoops gave a campaign-like speech to the state’s House of Representatives reassuring fans after the departure of coach Lincoln Riley.
“Lincoln Riley didn’t invent OU football,” Bob Stoops said while being honored Tuesday with a resolution celebrating “a career of service to the Oklahoma community and success with the OU Football program.”
Stoops served as head coach at Oklahoma for 18 years before handing the keys to his offensive coordinator, Riley, who left Norman after five seasons for USC. Riley has been replaced by another former Stoops assistant in Brent Venables.
“Brent was a major part of [Oklahoma’s undefeated 2000 season],” Stoops said. “He was with us 13 years and then went 10 years to Clemson where they’ve had as big a resurgence — not resurgence they’ve come from nowhere — to be one of the premier teams in the country. He’s got all the experience in the world. I don’t need to tell you about his passion and energy. It oozes all over the place and infects everybody.”
Stoops gave credit to Bud Wilkinson, who arrived in 1947, for laying the foundation for one of the most storied programs in college football.
“Bud Wilkinson created the monster that Coach [Barry] Switzer always referred to and I had to deal with it for 18 years,” Stoops said. “And it’s a monster. But I loved it. I am the fortunate one to have been able to be at Oklahoma for all these years — 18 as the head coach — and fortunately they’ve kept me on here for a while so that I could step in in moments like that. Hopefully we don’t have any more.”
Stoops stepped in in the immediate aftermath of Riley’s resignation, coaching the Sooners to a 47-32 win over Oregon in the Valero Alamo Bowl. Stoops’ emergency coaching job was one of the many things he was recognized for Tuesday.
He said it wasn’t hard to be drawn back to the sideline, particularly because he got the call from athletic director Joe Castiglione and president Joe Harroz while he was on the golf course.
“I’ve been given way too much credit for it,” Stoops said. “I wasn’t golfing all that well that day, so it was easy to leave the course.”
He said he immediately set out to steady the emotions of the shocked Sooners.
“My first mission was to remind everybody — players, community, everybody at the university — Lincoln Riley didn’t invent OU football, OK?” Stoops said, to an audible agreement from a few legislators. “Everyone needed a wake-up call because they kind of slipped into thinking he did.”
Tuesday’s resolution honored Stoops for his coaching career including being the only coach in the BCS era to win the Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar Bowls plus the national championship. He coached the Sooners to more wins than any other Power 5 program during his 18-year tenure. It cited his 101-9 record at home, the 37 All-America players and 79 draft picks he coached, including two Heisman Trophy winners.
Stoops was also commended for his charity work and his work with patients at children’s hospitals “immersing them in the Sooner football experience.”
Stoops, with Harroz standing beside him and the OU spirit squad and mascot Boomer in attendance for OU Day in the legislature, also used the opportunity to do a little politicking of his own, making his case for further funding for the university.
“Please keep sending it our way in positive ways, if you would,” he said.
He wrapped up his speech with more reassurance toward the future of the football program.
“I promise you we are in great, great hands and I look forward to the future in a really positive way,” he said. “Love the state of Oklahoma. Boomer,” he said, as House members replied, “Sooner!”