Bob Stoops’ uncle and Nick Saban walk into a bar.
It looks like the start of a bad joke. But no. It’s the start of a crazy story that all parties swear to be the truth.
The night the original Bob Stoops and Saban sat in a bar in Youngstown, Ohio, so engrossed in football talk, the place was robbed and they didn’t even notice. .
Saban has already told the story and repeated it a few days ago. I called the original Bob Stoops – from now on we’ll call him Uncle Bob – and got the full story. And he says Saban didn’t embellish.
The most dangerous story you’ve ever heard.
From 1983 to 1987, Saban was an assistant coach at Michigan State, the school that later hired him as head coach. Saban’s recruiting territory was the Rust Belt of western Pennsylvania and northeastern Ohio, including the tough town of Youngstown.
Even 40 years ago, before Bob, Mike and Mark Stoops launched their coaching careers, Stoops’ coaching fingerprints were all over Youngstown football.
Ron Stoops, father of Ron Jr., Bob, Mike and Mark, was a revered high school coach in Youngstown at Cardinal Mooney High School.
Ron’s younger brother, Uncle Bob Stoops, was a coach at South High School and would go on to coach for 16 years at Youngstown State.
And as Saban frequented Youngstown looking for ballplayers, he befriended Ron and Uncle Bob Stoops.
“Ron was just a fantastic person and a really good coach and highly respected by all the players he coached,” Saban said before the OU-Alabama Sugar Bowl nine seasons ago. “And (Uncle) Bob was a good friend. He’s a bit different from Ron in that he was a bit free-spirited.
“So I remember when I was recruiting there, most of the time when the schools were closing, you had to wait for people to come home from work before you could go and do house calls in the evening. I used to meet (Uncle) Bob in the Boiler Room at South High School and play cards, gin rummy, until I could make a house call. That’s the kind of relationship I had with them.
Uncle Bob, now retired and living in Youngstown, even added to the story, saying that after gin rummy, he and Saban occasionally played golf before scheduled house calls.
“They hit that area hard,” Uncle Bob said of Michigan State. “Youngstown, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Cleveland, Canton, Warren. It was the stock of footballers. Now they’re taking them all down south, I guess.
Saban “recruited a lot” in Youngstown, Uncle Bob said. “Bobby’s dad (Ron) was a great high school coach. He had all kinds of players.
Saban became close to the Stoops. When Mike and Mark followed Bob to the University of Iowa in the 1980s, the Stoops family would visit Saban’s house after Hawkeye games at Michigan State, before making the trip back from 294 miles to Youngstown.
“He was very close to the family when Bobby and the others went to Iowa,” Uncle Bob said. “He was very close to my brother Ron.”
Ron Stoops Sr. died in 1989 after suffering a heart attack on the field near the end of a Cardinal Mooney game. Thirty-three years later, Uncle Bob talks enthusiastically about his big brother.
“Bob’s dad was a great guy,” Uncle Bob said. “Just a super athlete. He could do anything. He could do anything.
“That’s where all the boys got their determination and education from everything. He never said a word (and Bob Stoops confirmed that Ron Stoops wasn’t as fiery as his sons), but underneath he always wanted to win and compete. He was my hero.”
Cardinal Mooney was a powerful program. But Youngstown South also had its share of ballplayers. Uncle Bob coached players who went on to captain Wisconsin and Ohio State respectively.
So Saban didn’t skip the south when he came to Youngstown.
A few days ago on The Next Round, a Birmingham-based podcast, Saban told the story of the bar in Youngstown.
Saban and Uncle Bob went to a bar in Youngstown, “Talk of the Town”, to have a beer and talk football.
“We draw plays, talk football, discuss things,” Saban told ESPN in 2015. “Someone came in with a shotgun and held the bartender up and walked away. didn’t know what had happened.
“The police came, and the bartender said ‘don’t ask those guys what happened, because they didn’t even see it.'”
This is called concentration. We knew Saban had it. Now we know even more.
Opinion:Nick Saban said Alabama is “rebuilding” in 2021. There’s still work to be done.
More tide:Alabama exposes college football playoff ‘participation trophy’ for extra motivation
Uncle Bob says Saban tells the story directly, but Uncle Bob tells it even better.
“I remember,” says Uncle Bob with the Youngstown accent and cadence ringing exactly like his nephew. “Oh my God, telling that story makes you wonder if anyone thinks you’re BS-ing. He embellishes that.”
“We were in that bar,” Uncle Bob said. “I’m only talking about football. We were moving salt shakers, anything we could grab, we were talking football.
“I remember very well, there was a guy in front of us, it was a bar in the shape of a snake, and the guy takes this glass, he breaks it on the floor.
“I happened to be looking over there, all of a sudden I saw him break that, and he was really angry.
“I said, ‘Hey, mate, is something wrong?’
“He said, ‘Hey, you (expletive), we just got robbed!’
“I’m like, ‘You’re ignoring me.’
“He says, ‘No, they had a shotgun pointed straight at you two empty holes. “”
About 20 minutes later the police arrived and the bartender told the cops, “You don’t have to talk to these guys, they don’t even know what’s going on.”
Uncle Bob says he can see the scene in his mind to this day.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said of the robbery. “I had to go home and read the newspapers. Sure enough, it was in the paper the next day. It was crazy.”
Subscribe to our sports newsletter:All the sports news you need to know delivered straight to your home!
Uncle Bob had quite the coaching career himself. He spent 14 seasons on Jim Tressel’s Youngstown State team, which went on to coach Ohio State to the national championship and recently retired as president of Youngstown State. Uncle Bob also coached for two years under Jon Heacock at YSU, the same Heacock who is now the defensive coordinator behind Iowa State’s football revival.
Uncle Bob easily tells great stories of those Youngstown years. From going down to Canton for coaching clinics to hear from Woody Hayes one night, Bo Schembechler the next and John McKay the next.
Of coaching Ohio when only 12 teams made the state playoffs and his 10-0 Southern team was left out. “Now there are probably 500” in the playoffs.
To have traveled about half a mile on the road to join his brother at Cardinal Mooney’s lunchtime, where he could get delicious spaghetti and good rolls.
South High School closed in 1993. Nick Saban became Nick Saban. The Brothers Stoops became the Brothers Stoops. And Uncle Bob continued to enjoy the tough town of Youngstown.
“I’ve had a good, crazy football life myself,” Uncle Bob said, including the night he and Nick Saban walked into a bar.
Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or [email protected]