Will Bob Stoops Coach Again? Where Might He Go?
After his stunning retirement from Oklahoma, is he really done? Where could he coach next?
That can’t really be it, can it?
All apologies if it turns out that Bob Stoops left a College Football Playoff-caliber team less than three months before the season for something health or family related, but unless there’s some serious reason for going, coaches of this talent and skill don’t just saunter off to sit on a beach.
Stoops is a wee bit different than most college football head coaches, though. As good as he was/is, and as focused and determined that he was/is, he didn’t live, eat, sleep and breathe the job like most do. It really is possible who could just walk away.
He really is the type who could simply need a break, but he’s an elite football coach. Again, assuming there isn’t something else going on we don’t know about, what happens if he wants to get in the game again?
He’s only 56 – turning 57 in September – and he left on top of his game. After a little time off, he could all but name his job and price, but where do you go after Oklahoma? What’s bigger than one of the blue-blood college football powerhouses that might just be the greatest program of all-time?
Here are six options for what might be next for one of the best college football coaches ever.
6. The Broadcast Booth
When Urban Meyer left Florida, after he relaxed a bit and got his bearings again, for a brief moment he turned into a whale of a TV analyst.
For some of the same reasons that make him such an elite head coach, Meyer was a fantastic observer and teacher, whose voice carried weight whenever he had an opinion because he was Urban Fricking Meyer.
Stoops is certainly knowledgable enough, articulate, and genuinely funny when he’s not in football coach mode. If he needs a break from the coaching grind for a bit, he might be a natural as a top analyst – if I’m Fox, I’m having a meeting right now to see if Stoops might fit in a three-man booth for the top games.
It wouldn’t be his role to step out and criticize, but in terms of being able to handle the Xs and Os and teach the game, the potential is there to be a college football Jon Gruden – but without the contrived schtick.
But let’s say Stoops wants to be a head coach again. Then …
The former Hawkeye defensive back is a Hayden Fry disciple who later worked under Bill Snyder at Kansas State. Eventually, Snyder is going to retire, but Manhattan isn’t going to be attractive enough – Stoops isn’t going to take over another Big 12 job.
However, the idea of turning Iowa into a national title power might be appealing if and when Kirk Ferentz decides he might be done.
Unless there’s a total disaster, Ferentz will never be fired. He’s going to be a very, very young 62 by the start of the season, but if decides in a year or so that he’s ready to do something else – like Stoops, Ferentz is another coach who’s more than just college football – Stoops would be the dream hire.
There’s absolutely no honeymoon period for Lincoln Riley. He’s inheriting the best team in the Big 12 with College Football Playoff aspirations and talent. While he might get a slight one year grace period if OU doesn’t take the conference championship, 8-4 – or worse – would be a total disaster.
Stoops is stepping down on the best of terms and with everyone wanting more. If Riley doesn’t rock over the next two seasons, and Stoops wants back in, that’s an easy fit.
Florida was rumored to be in the mix to steal Stoops away from Oklahoma after the Urban era was over. It obviously didn’t happen, but when it comes to money, control, and prestige, this would be the place to go if Jim McElwain doesn’t start winning SEC titles.
McElwain might’ve been able to get the Gators to two straight SEC Championships, but he was ripped up by Alabama both times, and that was coming off of ugly losses to Florida State. The bar is set far, far higher at Florida than merely being way above-average. One down year for McElwain, and the hot seat talk would be roaring.
Stoops was the defensive coordinator under Steve Spurrier in Gainesville for three years in the 1990s, helping the Gators – and the Ball Coach – win the national title.
At Florida, either you win the SEC title and are in the mix for the national championship, or you aren’t.
2. Chicago Bears
Or maybe the New York Jets – new coach + Sam Darnold = future – or as Andrew Luck’s guy in Indianapolis. Or the Youngstown-born coach could end up as the head man in Cleveland, or Cincinnati, or whatever other gig might open up.
But the Chicago job seems to fit a bit better. It’s the legacy franchise that would be the most appealing of the bunch, even after an almost certain dud of a season and likely canning of John Fox.
There was a time not all that long ago when Chicago was in the mix for Nick Saban, but whiffed because of moneyed control issues. If there’s another bad year and another house cleaning, that wouldn’t be a problem if Stoops turns out to be interested.
1. Notre Dame
We almost went with it.
Back in 2009, we were told by a few low friends in high places that Stoops was off to South Bend. But that turned out to be nothing more than a rumor, Brian Kelly was hired, and Stoops kept on rolling in Norman.
Stoops grew up Catholic, and if and when the Kelly era comes to an end, it might be too tempting not to heed the calling.
Where does Urban Meyer possibly go after Florida? Ohio State. What could possibly be bigger for Nick Saban than LSU and the Miami Dolphins? Alabama.
Notre Dame might not be a bigger, better program than Oklahoma, but if Stoops is looking to dive back in, that’s it. That’s the one almost all elite college football coaches have somewhere in the back of their minds as the place to go to become part of the legend.