What the hell are we going to do with Oklahoma football coach Bob
Stoops? He's clueless. He's inept--he's two flights and a puddle
jumper from ept.
Most college football coaches have egos just slightly larger than
Boise, Idaho. You couldn't find Stoops's with a magnifying glass
and tweezers. The guy drives the preschool car pool every
morning. In his Pontiac minivan!
Texas coach Mack Brown has an office big enough to U-turn a
Greyhound bus. Stoops's is so small you have to leave to sneeze.
O.K., so he's got the Sooners, who beat Colorado 34-20 last
Saturday, 8-0 and No. 1 in the country again. Look at the lousy
example he's setting!
Coaches have been known to cheat on their wives, slobber on Sigma
Chis, speed-dial strippers. Stoops? He goes to his wife's Mary
Kay cosmetics conventions in support of her career.
Coaches are supposed to watch film until 2 a.m., sleep on their
office couches and get started again at sunup to prove how much
they care. Stoops? He's usually home for dinner. He holds
Wednesday-night "family meetings," during which the coaches'
spouses and their 30 kids turn the football offices into
Gymboree. He doesn't start his day until 8:45 in the morning, so
his coaches can see their broods off.
On the Thursday before Oklahoma's 65-13 fricasseeing of Texas in
Dallas, Stoops was eating lunch with his first-grade daughter at
her school when he noticed that half the kids were missing from
the lunchroom. "Where are they?" Stoops asked a teacher.
"They left already for the Texas game with their parents, Coach,"
she said. Uh, coach, hello?
You know what the problem with Stoops is? He's got the wrong
hero. His hero is a man who was never even a head coach in high
school, a history teacher and defensive coordinator who used to
bring game film to his little three-bedroom house on the tattoo
side of Youngstown, Ohio, and watch it on the refrigerator door.
Why? He wanted to be near his wife and six kids. The hero?
Stoops's father, Ron.
"There was nobody wealthier than my dad," says Stoops. "He was a
man before his time. He'd do the dishes, do the laundry, scrub
the floors. He could've had all kinds of head-coaching jobs--high
school, college--but he didn't want 'em. He wouldn't have wanted
my job for anything. He loved his life just as it was. He was
happy. What else can you want?"
And that's why, when Ron dropped dead of a heart attack on a high
school sideline at 54, his son dedicated himself to living a life
just like his father's. But he didn't become his dad--he became
He's 42-4 the last four seasons with one national title and
another one penciled in for this year. He's Coach Clutch with a
10-1 record against Top 10 teams, 16-1 against Top 25 over the
same period. And he did it after inheriting the 101st-best
offense in the country five seasons ago.
But he won't take his job seriously! He's addicted to gadget
plays. He's been known to have his quarterback hand off through
his legs to a running back. If he had his way, he'd fake punts as
often as kick them. Somewhere, Bud Wilkinson is biting his
whistle in half.
And he's got this completely dopey idea about discipline. He
thinks college players need it! OU now graduates 82% of its
football players, which--and I am not exactly sure--is an 8,200%
increase over the Barry Switzer era. The biggest mess a Stoops
troop has gotten into is the six traffic tickets amassed by free
safety Brandon Everage last month. Hell, Brian Bosworth used to
do that on the way to practice.
Football coaches are supposed to give it the Full Neuheisel:
secretly sniff every job opening while insisting to the fans that
you're not going anywhere. Stoops has gotten more offers than a
prison hooker, but he hangs up on 'em! He's turned down Pitt,
Iowa and Florida, and the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco
Coach in Norman, Okla., instead of San Francisco? Were his taste
buds removed at birth?
"I have a great life here," he says. "What more could I want?"
Can we all slap our foreheads in unison?
O.K., maybe he wants to go for the Living Legend thing--stay at
one place forever and get the stadium named after him. At 43,
Stoops already has 51 wins. At this pace, he'll pass Joe Paterno
and Bobby Bowden like they were Yugos. "No way," Stoops says.
"It's O.K. for them, but I don't want to still be coaching when
I'm their age."
In fact, sometimes Stoops wonders if he wants to coach at this
"This job can just get so complicated--people pullin' on
you--that sometimes I think how great it would be to just go
coach the neighborhood kids," he says. "Just be more like my dad
was, simple. Simple can be sort of beautiful, you know?"
Man, you talk to him.
If you have a comment for Rick Reilly, send it to
dinner. Look at the lousy example he's setting!