NORMAN, Okla. – Sooner fans across the country are still processing the news that OU head football coach Bob Stoops is retiring.
Sources confirmed to NewsChannel 4 that Stoops has decided to retire, adding that it was “his choice” and he felt like it was the right time.
A short time later, Stoops released the following statement regarding his retirement:
“After 18 years at the University of Oklahoma, I’ve decided to step down as the head football coach. I understand there has been some speculation about my health. My health was not the deciding factor in this decision and I’ve had no incidents that would prevent me from coaching. I feel the timing is perfect to hand over the reins. The program is in tremendous shape. 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 my purpose here at OU as its head football coach.
“I’m thankful that my career at Oklahoma was marked with consistent leadership in President David Boren and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione. It’s extremely rare in college athletics to have no change in these leadership positions over a nearly 20-year span. I always appreciated the way both of them supported me and our program. They both played an enormous role in all our successes.
“I have been very fortunate to have such outstanding coaches in my time at OU. Our players have always benefitted from their strong leadership, on and off the field. I was also blessed with a strong support staff — strength and conditioning, equipment, sports medicine, academics, video — every aspect of our program was staffed with very talented people who took a great deal of pride in making Oklahoma football the best.
“I’m especially thankful for being able to coach so many talented young men over my 18 years here. It has been so rewarding to see these players come to OU and mature over a four or five-year career, and not just on the field. To play a small part in their growth is what I will always cherish the most.
None of my success would have happened without the best fans in the country. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the 110 consecutive home sellouts. The passion of our fan base is unmatched, and their support has played a huge role in not only home games, but road games and all 18 of our bowl games, as well.
“Lastly, I’d like to thank my wife, Carol, and my daughter, Mackie, and my sons, Drake and Isaac. They have been a major part of this success. Being the wife or child of a coach is often tough, and they’ve all been strong through both good times and challenging times.
“The coaching life is like a relay race and I’m thankful for my turn and am confident as I pass the baton. Carol and I intend on staying in Norman — it is our home. I will be available to Coach Riley and the athletic department in any manner. Thank you all for a lifetime of memories we shared together of 10 conference championships, the 2000 national championship, strong relationships with players and coaches, and the great Oklahoma football fans. Boomer!”
Stoops is the winningest football coach in Oklahoma history with a record of 190-48.
For the past 18 years, he has coached the Sooners to a school-record 18 consecutive bowl berths. Last season, the Sooners ended on a high note when they defeated Auburn in the Sugar Bowl with a score of 35-19.
Under his leadership, Stoops has won nine Big 12 titles and tied for another.
During the BCS era, Stoops was the only coach to win a national championship and every BCS bowl game. He was a six-time Big 12 Coach of the Year and two-time national Coach of the Year.
Now, offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley will take over the program.
Riley joined the program in 2015, but has already become one of the brightest young coaches in college football. Over the past two seasons with him as offensive coordinator, the Sooners have the highest quarterback ranking in the country with a combined mark of 179.8.
In 2015, he received the Broyles Award, which is given to the nation’s top assistant coach.
Last season, OU’s offense led the nation in passing efficiency and pass completion percentage under Riley’s guidance.The offense ended the season ranked second in total offense and third in scoring offense.
The first game of the season is set for Sept. 2 at Gaylord Family- Oklahoma Memorial Stadium against UTEP.