Bob Stoops has spent a lot of time on Oklahoma’s sideline, and he’s back — at least temporarily.
The long-time OU head coach returned Tuesday as an assistant coach to help Lincoln Riley’s staff as COVID-19 issues sift through the Sooners’ program. Stoops was the head coach at Oklahoma from 1999 through 2016, compiling a 190-48 record that included a perfect 13-0 season in 2000 to claim a national title.
“We brought Coach Stoops out of retirement today,” Riley told media Tuesday. “He was on the field and coached with us today. It was great to have him out there. It was great. It’s nice. It’s been kind of in our hip pocket this whole time. If we had any staff member that fell off, we’ve got a Hall of Famer sitting on the bench. That’s a pretty good bench when you can call that guy up. More than that, how much he cares about this program. I don’t think there’s anything he wouldn’t do. It was great to have him out there today. It was awesome. Our kids were excited to see him, all of us were excited to see him. I think he had some fun as well.”
Stoops is currently nominated for the 2021 College Football Hall of Fame class. When Stoops retired in June 2017, he shot down speculation that his health was at issue, saying that he felt he “fulfilled (his) purpose at OU.” Stoops’ retirement meant that Riley took over the program as a 33-year-old.
Oklahoma’s (6-2, 5-2 Big 12) program has dealt with COVID-19 issues of late, which led to the cancellation of its scheduled game against West Virginia last Saturday. The Sooners returned to the practice field Monday after having been off for five days because of a program pause. Some of OU’s coaching staff members are still out, according to CBS, which led to the call to bring in Stoops, who still lives locally. Stoops’ son, Drake, is a wide receiver for the Sooners.
Since his retirement, Stoops has been under contract with Oklahoma as a “special assistant,” which is why he’s allowed to step in in such a capacity. He also spent the short XFL season earlier in 2020 coaching the Dallas Renegades. In a statement Tuesday, Stoops just said he was happy to be of assistance.
“When Lincoln asked me if I’d be wiling to help in a coaching role while he was a little short-handed I didn’t hesitate to say yes. Certainly I’m happy to do anything I can to assist the team for however long I’m asked to,” Stoops said in a statement. “But obviously with me being away from the day-to-day activities of the program for a while now, my input will be minimal.
“If I can add some enthusiasm or positive energy for these players — and I do know most of them — that’s a good thing,” Stoops continued. “But let’s not get carried away. The people that will influence this game and the rest of our games this season will be Coach Riley, his staff and the players. I’m just going to do my best to help out however I can while keeping a low profile.”