Statement from retiring Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops

Excerpts from a university-provided statement from Bob Stoops, who is retiring after 18 seasons as head coach at Oklahoma:

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. ...

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. ..

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!

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Online: http://www.soonersports.com/SportSelect.dbml?SPID=127245&SPSID=750323&DB-OEM-ID=31000

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