After Bob Stoops announced his retirement last week, the daughter of a friend told her mother that she felt like a family member had just died. For long time OU fans, this reaction may seem a bit extreme, but it is important to remember that for millennials, Bob Stoops is only OU coach they have ever known.
I told my friend we should all be so fortunate to have that kind of impact on someone. I know we are talking football here, but then again we are talking OU football. For those us raised on OU football, we totally understand. Like someone speaking at Bob Stoops’ wake, I want to thank Bob Stoops for doing this thing the right way.
Big Game Bob became good guy Bob this week. While Bob Stoops has been compared to Bud Wilkinson and Barry Switzer in less than glowing terms over the years, his last act as a Sooner puts him at the head of the class in at least one area. Bob knew when to say when…
I have lived through the retirement eras of both Bud Wilkinson and Barry Switzer. Both were extremely difficult for Sooner fans. Yes, Bud and Barry put OU on the college football map, but both stayed too long and the transition period following their careers was ugly.
The character of a leader may be described not only his/her success during their tenure, but also how that organization does for years after the passing of the torch. Loving a place means leaving that place in a position for future success…. Bob obviously loves this University, its football program and the SOONER NATION and was willing to walk away at just the right time.
Back in the forties Bud’s teams had winning streaks of 47 and 31 games, which led to a winning percentage of 91% over an eleven (11) period. That was the good news…the bad news is that over the last six years of his tenure, Bud’s team won at only a 62% clip. That’s right Bud stayed too long.
Even more bad news for Sooner fans is that Bud was instrumental in Darrel Royal getting the Texas job. In the last six years of the Bud regime, he lost to Texas all six years. Combined with the seven years after his retirement, the Sooners lost 12 of 13 years to the hated Shorthorns.
Bud’s personal choice of Gomer Jones to be his successor was pure disaster. By the end of the Gomer era the Sooners were getting their butts kicked not only on the football field, but on the recruiting trail as well.
It was not until Barry Switzer came along in the mid 70’s that OU fully recovered. Barry’s success was well documented with his own three National Championships; Just like Bud however, Barry stayed too long
Scholarship limitations and the NCAA enforcement committee eventually did Barry in…Barry’s exit was ugly and created a rocky transition for OU football. While Barry unlike Bud had no choice in his departure, he should have seen it coming. He should have created a bridge for his successor.
Instead the program suffered with scholarship limitations and with Mr. Personality, Gary Gibbs. On the best of days, Gibbs would not have been successful, but with the Sooner program hit hard by NCAA sanctions, he had no chance
As we know OU hit rock bottom before the next great OU coach hit Norman. Bob Stoops resurrected the OU program from the dead and returned OU football to its former glory. That brings us to today.
As an old fart that could not imagine living through another OU football downturn, I am so thankful that Bob chose to take a different approach to his retirement. He is leaving the OU program in good hands…not only will Lincoln Riley be the next great OU football coach, Lincoln has the coaches and players to make this happen.
Thanks Bob for leaving OU football in a better place than you found it…