FILE – In this Dec. 7, 2002, file photo, Oklahoma players carry off coach Bob Stoops after winning the Big 12 championship with a 29-7 win over Colorado, in Houston. Stoops has decided to retire as Oklahoma’s… (AP Photo/Brett Coomer, File)
Big Game Bob leaves behind quite a legacy at Oklahoma.
Bob Stoops shocked college football Wednesday with his surprise announcement that he is retiring immediately as the Sooners’ coach, handing the program over to 33-year-old assistant Lincoln Riley with less than two months before preseason practice starts.
It’s a question of when — not if — the 56-year-old Stoops earns his invitation to the College Football Hall of Fame. Here’s a look back at how the former assistant to Steve Spurrier at Florida and Bill Snyder at Kansas State wound up becoming the winningest coach in Oklahoma history:
THE EARLY YEARS
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After four stops as an assistant, Stoops arrived at Oklahoma in 1999 to replace John Blake and immediately made the Sooners winners again, taking them to their first bowl game since 1994 — the first of 18 in a row for him. In Year 2, he led them to the national championship, beating Florida State in the Orange Bowl. That year also included the first of his 10 Big 12 championships and earned the nickname “Big Game Bob” for his knack for beating Top 25 opponents and winning three of his first four bowl games. From his second season through his last, Stoops never won fewer than eight games in a season.
Stoops’ Sooners kept rolling along during the regular seasons, but that nickname took on a sarcastic spin when his teams lost five of six bowl games from 2003-08 — including three losses in BCS national championship games in 2003, ’04 and ’08. Oklahoma won at least 11 games five times during that six-year span but was foiled in title games by LSU, Southern California and Florida. Also in that stretch: an unforgettable loss in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl in which Boise State converted a hook-and-ladder play on fourth-and-18 in the final seconds of regulation and won it in overtime on a Statue of Liberty two-point conversion.
THE LATER YEARS
The bowl wins returned for Stoops after 2009, and he led Oklahoma to a No. 1 ranking for the final time in 2011 and broke Barry Switzer’s school record of 157 victories two years later. Stoops won five of his final eight postseason games, knocking off Alabama in the Sugar Bowl four years ago. He claimed Big 12 titles in each of the past two seasons, led Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff in 2015 and, in what would become Stoops’ final game, the Sooners beat Auburn 35-19 in the Sugar Bowl in January.
THE FINAL RESUME
Stoops coached two Heisman Trophy winners (Jason White in 2003, Sam Bradford in 2008), two more runners-up (Josh Heupel in 2000, Adrian Peterson in 2004) and seven total finalists, including two last year (QB Baker Mayfield and WR Dede Westbrook). The six-time Big 12 coach of the year and AP coach of the year in 2000 went 11-7 against Texas and 14-4 against Oklahoma State. He would have reached the 200-win mark with an average season in 2017 — but instead his career ends with a record of 190-48.
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