Inside Bob Stoops’ last days at Oklahoma

As Oklahoma’s football operations director and Stoops’ right hand man for NFL Carolina Panthers Jerseys Cheap Free Shipping nearly two decades, McMillen had long been counted among Stoops’ most trusted friends. Their two families even ate dinner together at least a couple of times a week.

But on this evening, as Stoops flipped the chicken on the grill, he was unusually quiet, McMillen noticed. Then, as they sat to eat, Stoops dropped the bombshell.

“Matty,” he began, “I’m not going to coach anymore.”

For the next half hour, McMillen was the one who couldn’t speak.

“I couldn’t think of anything to say,” McMillen said. “Couldn’t even ask a question. That’s how blindsided I was.”

Two days later, all of college football would feel the same.

After the turn of the millennium, no coach in the country enjoyed more consistent year to year success than Stoops. In 18 seasons, he won 10 Big 12 titles, more than the rest of the league combined. He also captured a national title in 2000, played for three more, and made the 2015 College Football Playoff.

Yet, while relatively young by coaching standards at 56, Stoops had been contemplating his exit strategy years before he stunningly retired June 7 and turned the program over to Lincoln Riley.

In 2010, Stoops told his mentor, Steve Spurrier, that there would be “no way” he would still be coaching at 65, the age Spurrier was at the time.

“I thought about it years ago, that’s true,” Stoops said. “Reflecting on, how long do you want to do this? Not that anything was imminent. But life changes for everybody year to year.

“Everything has its time.”

Armed with another loaded team coming off back to back Big 12 titles, it didn’t seem as if this would be that time. Even to those closest to him.

“He said forever he wasn’t going to coach until he cheap vikings jerseys was old,” McMillen said. “But as you get older, 50 whatever doesn’t seem very old. When you get to that age, maybe you think 65 is old.

“That’s why I didn’t think it was going to be as soon as it was. I thought it was a two or three year window away.”

But it wasn’t.

What happened to Stoops’ father almost 30 years ago is one reason why.

On Oct. 7, 1988, Ron Sr. was still coaching defense for Cardinal Mooney, Stoops’ high school alma mater in Youngstown, Ohio. That night, Stoops’ older brother, Ron Jr., was an assistant for the opponent, rival Boardman. As time expired in regulation, Mooney scored a game tying touchdown, but missed the extra point that would’ve won the game. That’s when Ron Sr. began to feel ill, forcing him to lie down on the benches. He watched as Mooney prevailed in triple overtime, before being placed into an ambulance. On the way to the hospital, he died of a heart attack. He was 54.

Stoops has been diligent about his health, monitoring his cholesterol and his heart, and making exercising a priority. But his dad stayed in terrific shape, too, playing competitive baseball in Youngstown into his 50s.

Having passed the age at which his father died, Stoops didn’t want coaching to take him away from his family, the way it did his dad.

“It’s something you’re just always aware of,” said Stoops, who has kept his father’s state title ring inside a wooden case with his Oklahoma championship jewelry. “That history is there. It’s why we are who we are.”

Perhaps the boldest move Stoops ever made at Oklahoma came three years ago, when he fired offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, who was the quarterback of Stoops’ national championship team.

To replace him following a disappointing 8 5 season that ended in an embarrassing 40 6 bowl loss to Clemson, Stoops put his offense in the hands of Riley, who was a 31 year old Mike Leach protg.

In Riley, Stoops saw a young coach who resembled him. Others at Oklahoma saw the connection, down to their staccato speaking mannerism.

In the way Stoops immediately turned the Sooners around after arriving, Riley instantly revived the Oklahoma offense. In the two years since, the Sooners have dropped only one Big 12 game, while owning the nation’s No. 3 and No. 4 scoring offenses.

In May, Oklahoma rewarded Riley with a $1.3 million extension, the largest payout to wholesale vikings jerseys an assistant in school history. The ultimate aim was to keep Riley in Norman long enough to make him the successor for the day when Stoops retired.

That day came sooner than anyone could have predicted.

The week before announcing his retirement, Stoops told Riley that he was considering it.

“I figured for him to bring it up, it was fairly serious,” Riley said. “But you just never know with things like that. I really didn’t know what route he was going to go.”


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