As of late Wednesday, Bob Stoops is done at Oklahoma. Like his friend and mentor Steve Spurrier — he went the Sinatra route. Sorry for the cliche, but yes … Stoops did it his way.
Stoops picked a non-conformist time to step down after 18 years of being the head coach of the Sooners. Unlike most coaches who seem to think they can only retire during the window of Dec. 1 at 11:59 p.m. and Christmas at 12:01 a.m., Stoops chose his own route and did it in June.
It has to be stirring up speculation behind closed doors, especially since he has repeatedly said it isn't about some undisclosed health issue.
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From 1999 to 2016 Stoops won a ton of ball games in Norman. And every time Florida's coaching job came open, thanks to Stoops' highly successful time as the defensive coordinator at Florida from 1996-98, Stoops' name would pop up.
It happened loudly when Spurrier stepped down following the 2001 season. Then again when Ron Zook was fired midseason in 2004. And maybe to a lesser extent in the Meyer-to-Muschamp and Muschamp-to-McElwain transitions … but even with those two switches, Stoops was a go-to quote.
Talked to Spurrier today about Stoopsie. He wasn't surprised. Said Stoops was "never a lifer. He had a great run. "
— Pat Dooley (@pat_dooley) June 7, 2017
One has to wonder what's next for the defensive mastermind. Hey, he's only 56 years old. And so often, it has been tossed out there and batted around … if Stoops ever left Oklahoma, would he consider the Florida job if it came open? Would he finish his career in Gainesville.
He owns a beach house right next to the retired Spurrier at Crescent Beach, Fla., which is between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville and about two hours from Gainesville. The two coaches are still very close, and undoubtedly will get together this summer.
They made it an annual trip to go to the NASCAR race in July in Daytona Beach — and they always made a media appearance together.
Stoops said "it was time" and sources close to him say he's looking forward to some down time. We'll see how long that lasts. They've all said that.
Here's something to watch for: If … and I'll repeat the word 'if' here because there's no indication of this happening just yet … things change with Florida's coaching situation, the Stoops noise is going to be as loud in Gainesville as it was back in 2002 and 2004 when the Florida Gators job was open. Heck, he may even be living in Florida — though his daughter does attend Oklahoma. Word on the street is that Stoops' wife Carol loves Crescent Beach and Gainesville, so keep an eye on that.
Things would have to go terribly wrong this year for McElwain to not be the coach in December. You'd have to think the team would have to lose at least four or five games for it to even be considered, and maybe one of those losses would have to be an embarrassing upset at home (Vandy?).
But, even though it's uber-early right now, Florida's 2018 recruiting class isn't even in the Top 30 … though that can change all in one big Friday Night Lights moment (as their elite July 22 summer camp is called – the one they traditionally land blue-chippers during). Recruiting is part of the equation. And this offense definitely needs to show signs of improvement in 2017, specifically at quarterback. The first two seasons haven't been disasters, but one has to think two more years like that for McElwain (four losses per season) would put him on the hot seat … and if something worse happens this year? Who knows?
It's a ton of conjecture, but we've seen it all happen before — particularly at Florida in the past seven years. If that job comes open … you know the first question asked will be: Is Stoopsie interested?