Stoops Retires, Riley Named Head Coach
NORMAN — University of Oklahoma President David Boren and Vice President and Athletics Director Joe Castiglione announced jointly today that Bob Stoops is retiring as the head football coach after 18 years at OU. He will be succeeded by current offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. Stoops will remain as special assistant to the athletics director.
The owner of the most wins in Oklahoma football history and engineer of 10 Big 12 Conference titles and the 2000 national championship, Stoops posted a 190-48 (.798) record at OU and coached the Sooners to a school-record 18 consecutive bowl berths. He is the only coach to win the Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl and the national championship, and accumulated more victories over his first 18 seasons than any coach in the game's history.
"I feel the timing is perfect to hand over the reins. The program is in tremendous shape."
— Bob Stoops
The Youngstown, Ohio, native also guided the Sooners to the most wins of any Power 5 program over the last 18 years. Among those programs, only Ohio State can claim a better winning percentage during the span.
Stoops, 56, led the Sooners to double-digit wins in 14 of his 18 seasons - the most of any FBS coach since 2000 - and to at least eight victories in each of the last 17 campaigns, good for the longest active streak in the nation. Seven of his squads finished in the AP top five, including each of the last two, while three more finished No. 6.
Earning the moniker "Big-Game Bob" early in his OU tenure, Stoops' penchant for knocking off quality opponents was reflected in his 60-30 record against AP Top 25 opponents. OU's .667 winning percentage in such contests is the best in the country over the last 18 years and the win total is tied with LSU for second behind Alabama (65).
A six-time Big 12 Coach of the Year and two-time national coach of the year, Stoops was responsible for reviving one of the most storied programs in college football history. In the nine years prior to his arrival in 1999, OU posted a 54-46-3 record (.529) and went 31-33-2 (.485) in conference play. In the four years before he was hired, the Sooners were 17-27-1 (.389) overall and 10-21 (.323) in Big Eight play.
After going 7-5 in 1999 in his debut year in Norman, Stoops promptly directed OU to its seventh national title by going 13-0 and beating Florida State 13-2 in the Orange Bowl. The Sooners played in three more BCS National Championship Games under Stoops and made the four-team College Football Playoff in 2015. They spent 30 weeks in the AP poll's No. 1 spot and were atop the BCS standings for a nation-leading 20 weeks. OU's 123 top-five appearances in the AP poll the last 18 years are second only to Alabama's 129.
The Sooners' Big 12 supremacy under Stoops is unrivaled. Oklahoma has amassed 10 league titles over the last 18 years while no other Big 12 program has won more than two during the stretch. OU posted a 121-29 (.807) regular season league record under Stoops, easily outdistancing the second- and third-best marks (Texas, .693; Kansas State, .560).
OU's home performance under Stoops has been nothing short of incredible. The Sooners went 101-9 at Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, with all 110 of those games sellouts. The .918 home winning percentage is the best among Power 5 programs over the last 18 years (Ohio State is second at .882). Incredibly, Stoops finished with more Big 12 titles than home losses.
In addition to his legendary contributions to the OU football program and to the University as a whole, Stoops has been a pillar in the Oklahoma community.
Through his Bob Stoops Champions Foundation, he has raised more than $2 million to benefit children who are ill or at risk. The foundation has partnered with worthy causes such as March of Dimes, OU Children's Hospital, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Make-A-Wish Foundation, as well as many other local charities.
Stoops has given tirelessly of his time, as well. He visits patients at OU Children's Hospital weekly, forming personal relationships with the children and their families. Further evidence of his dedication to service, he has worked with Special Spectators to bring seriously ill children and their families to practices and games, fully immersing them in the Sooner football experience and welcoming them into the OU family.
Stoops' ability to form meaningful relationships with those around him is evidenced by the way he is regarded by his peers. In 2016, ESPN.com posed the following question to 23 head coaches in college football: If you had a son who was an elite football prospect and could play for any coach in America other than yourself, who would be your first choice? The name given more than any other was Bob Stoops.
"There's no question for me," one coach said on the condition of anonymity. "I know what Bob Stoops stands for. He's been successful, but I truly believe his success has been a byproduct of creating one good man at a time. He's found the right balance in how you handle compassion and teaching."
In 2014, Stoops and then-OU receiver Sterling Shepard were awarded the Disney Sports Spirit Award, an honor given annually by Disney Sports to college football's most inspirational figure. Following the tragic death of former Sooners' receiver and graduate assistant coach Derrick Shepard in 1999, Stoops selflessly became a father figure to Derrick's 6-year-old son, Sterling, and welcomed him into the OU family. In a remarkable twist of fate, that young boy grew into a superstar football player who, at the end of his high school career in suburban Oklahoma City, fittingly signed to play for the Oklahoma. Shepard went on to become one of the best receivers in OU history before moving on to the NFL.
Riley, who at 33 is the youngest FBS head coach, takes over the Sooners' reins as the program's 22nd head coach. He has spent the previous two seasons as Oklahoma's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, presiding over one of the nation's most powerful offenses.
In 2016, OU led the nation in passing efficiency rating (mark of 193.79 set an FBS record) and pass completion percentage (.706), and ranked second in total offense (554.8 ypg), third in scoring offense (43.9 ppg) and third down conversion percentage (.515). Quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Dede Westbrook finished third and fourth in Heisman Trophy voting, while Westbrook was a unanimous All-American and OU's first recipient of the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's outstanding receiver. Only one team in OU history (7.6 in 1971) averaged more yards per play than the Sooners' 7.5 in 2016.
Riley was named the recipient of the 2015 Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach following his first season in Norman. The offense ranked fourth nationally in scoring (43.5 ppg) and seventh in total offense (530.2 ypg). Mayfield was named the Sporting News National Player of the Year, while Westbrook was Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year. Eight offensive players earned all-league honors.
"I'm sincerely honored to be given this opportunity to be the head football coach at the University of Oklahoma."
— Lincoln Riley
Over the past two seasons with Riley as offensive coordinator, the Sooners have the highest quarterback rating in the country with a combined mark of 179.8.
Riley came to Oklahoma after five seasons at East Carolina where he held titles of assistant head coach/offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2014) and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2010-13). The Pirates set more than 50 team or individual school offensive records in his five seasons with the program. His five squads recorded the top five passing seasons in school history and the top four positions for total offense in a season.
Prior to East Carolina, Riley spent seven seasons at his alma mater, Texas Tech, where he was part of seven bowl teams and five bowl wins. During that span, Red Raiders quarterbacks won NCAA passing titles in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007. After serving as a student assistant from 2003-05, he was promoted to offensive assistant in 2006 and wide receivers coach in 2007. He moved to coaching inside receivers in 2008 and 2009 and called plays for Texas Tech as interim coordinator in the 2010 Alamo Bowl.
“After 18 years at the University of Oklahoma, I've decided to step down as the head football coach. I understand there has been some speculation about my health. My health was not the deciding factor in this decision and I've had no incidents that would prevent me from coaching. I feel the timing is perfect to hand over the reins. The program is in tremendous shape. We have outstanding players and coaches and are poised to make another run at a Big 12 and national championship. We have new state-of-the-art facilities and a great start on next year's recruiting class. The time is now because Lincoln Riley will provide a seamless transition as the new head coach, capitalizing on an excellent staff that is already in place and providing familiarity and confidence for our players. Now is simply the ideal time for me and our program to make this transition.
“The Bible says, 'To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.' I'm grateful for this season of my life, and feel I've fulfilled my purpose here at OU as its head football coach.
“I'm thankful that my career at Oklahoma was marked with consistent leadership in President David Boren and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione. It's extremely rare in college athletics to have no change in these leadership positions over a nearly 20-year span. I always appreciated the way both of them supported me and our program. They both played an enormous role in all our successes.
“I have been very fortunate to have such outstanding coaches in my time at OU. Our players have always benefitted from their strong leadership, on and off the field. I was also blessed with a strong support staff — strength and conditioning, equipment, sports medicine, academics, video — every aspect of our program was staffed with very talented people who took a great deal of pride in making Oklahoma football the best.
“I'm especially thankful for being able to coach so many talented young men over my 18 years here. It has been so rewarding to see these players come to OU and mature over a four or five-year career, and not just on the field. To play a small part in their growth is what I will always cherish the most.
"None of my success would have happened without the best fans in the country. I can't tell you how much I appreciated the 110 consecutive home sellouts. The passion of our fan base is unmatched, and their support has played a huge role in not only home games, but road games and all 18 of our bowl games, as well.
“Lastly, I'd like to thank my wife, Carol, and my daughter, Mackie, and my sons, Drake and Isaac. They have been a major part of this success. Being the wife or child of a coach is often tough, and they've all been strong through both good times and challenging times.
“The coaching life is like a relay race and I'm thankful for my turn and am confident as I pass the baton. Carol and I intend on staying in Norman — it is our home. I will be available to Coach Riley and the athletic department in any manner. Thank you all for a lifetime of memories we shared together of 10 conference championships, the 2000 national championship, strong relationships with players and coaches, and the great Oklahoma football fans. Boomer!”
"I'm sincerely honored to be given this opportunity to be the head football coach at the University of Oklahoma. I want to thank Coach Stoops for bringing me here two years ago and making me part of the Sooner family. He is one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game, at any level. I'm absolutely thankful for our friendship and for the mentorship he has provided.
"Coaching at Oklahoma is a dream come true for me and my family. I am extremely grateful to President Boren, Joe Castiglione, Chairman Bennett and the OU Board of Regents for believing in me and affording me this opportunity. I look forward to continuing the tradition of excellence that Coach Stoops and so many others before him have instilled in this great program."
PRESIDENT DAVID BOREN
"It was with sadness that I learned of the decision of Coach Bob Stoops to step down as head football coach at Oklahoma. Coach Stoops has made a critically important and lasting contribution to the OU football program. He has led to its restoration as one of the top programs in the nation. His success has helped provide the momentum for major new facilities like the improvements and expansion of the football stadium. Because of his unquestioned personal integrity and high standards, he is one of the most admired college football coaches in America.
"His decision to step down at this time was motivated partly by his belief that he has the right successor already in place in the program, Lincoln Riley, and he wanted to pass the leadership on at a time of strength for the program. His decision is typical of his unselfishness and always putting first the best interest of the players and program.
"I personally value him as a person and as a friend. I'm glad that Coach Stoops will remain an active member of our university family and will continue to serve the athletics department and be of help to our new head coach. The departure of Coach Stoops as head coach is a bittersweet time. I agree completely that we have exactly the right person already in place to take the helm. Coach Riley enjoys the complete confidence of the administration and university community. He has the talent and personal character to be a worthy successor to Coach Stoops."
ATHLETICS DIRECTOR JOE CASTIGLIONE
"It is rare in today's world that a president, athletics director and head football coach can work together for 18 successful seasons. Bob Stoops stands as one of the premier legendary figures in one of the most storied programs in college football history, yet he is still best identified by his humble nature and team approach that refused to get caught up in stature. That's the reason Bob is such a great leader. He has great vision and great accomplishment, but it never changed who he is as a man and a coach.
"Working alongside him has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job. Few athletics directors get a coach who better combines success and cohesiveness like Bob Stoops. I can't help but feel somewhat sad today because Bob has been such a constant in my life, and that's why I am so thankful that he will remain with us. He will continue to do great things for OU.
"At the same time, I am thrilled that Lincoln Riley is in position to take over as the head coach. He is widely regarded as one of the brightest minds in college football and there is no question in my mind that he is the complete package. Our program is in very good hands. Lincoln and I have a great relationship and I can't wait to embark on this new era with him. I am sure our fans share my enthusiasm. We celebrate a tremendous legacy today and because of what Bob did here and the coach we have identified, we look forward to our future with great optimism."
BOARD OF REGENTS CHAIR CLAY BENNETT
"On behalf of the Board of Regents, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Bob Stoops for what he has done for the football program at the University of Oklahoma and just as importantly, the school and state at large. From the moment he stepped on campus, Bob has led with dignity and professionalism that is justly admired throughout sports. During his time at Oklahoma he not only built upon our tradition, but moved it forward in a way that has made Sooners everywhere proud. I wish Bob, Carol and their family the best of luck with the next chapter, we are forever thankful for the contributions they have made to Oklahoma.
"Lincoln Riley has asserted himself as one of the brightest young minds in all of college football, and the results over the past two seasons as offensive coordinator for the Sooners speak for themselves. He has embraced the culture of being an Oklahoma Sooner, and I'm looking forward to watching him on the sidelines this coming fall as he leads our team. I want to congratulate Lincoln, Caitlin and their family on this exciting time."
OU WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COACH SHERRI COALE
"Our industry is losing a giant. Bob Stoops is the most decorated coach in our football program's illustrious history, but he's an even better man. I consider it the professional privilege of a lifetime to have had the opportunity to work alongside of him for 18 years."
OU ROWING COACH LEEANNE CRAIN
"Coach Stoops is a real class act. It's been a privilege to work alongside him and to witness first-hand the positive impact he's made at the University of Oklahoma. He is truly one of the most iconic figures in all of sport and leaves behind a legacy of excellence at OU. I wish him the very best in retirement. We love you Bob!"
OU SOFTBALL COACH PATTY GASSO
"Bob Stoops cared much more about the university and the athletics department than just football, and that isn't the case everywhere. His mentality has been, 'This is our university and our athletics department. How can I help you be better?' I've always felt that and respected him for it. For him to give me the time to help me get better was an honor. It is tough to see him go, but I know he'll still respond to a call or text from me and that's what I care about most, that personal connection."
OU MEN'S GOLF COACH RYAN HYBL
"Coach Stoops is one of the best leaders I have ever been around, and we all take his lead on how we conduct our own programs. I feel so honored to have had the opportunity to learn from him over the years and we will miss him. He has always bent over backwards to help our golf program and I cannot thank him enough for that."
OU SOCCER COACH MATT POTTER
"Coach Stoops is a role model, and as a coach and leader is an example for all. Coach Stoops represents all that the University of Oklahoma stands for, both on and off the field, creating winning traditions on it, but not at the expense of creating great people to go out in the world off it. Coach Stoops made and will continue to make a difference. From afar he was a role model, always available if needed to help our program. The lessons will last a lifetime, and he will be missed at OU but never forgotten."
OU MEN'S GYMNASTICS COACH MARK WILLIAMS
"I was actually hired right after Bob. I was an assistant coach prior to that but I didn't become a head coach until a year after Bob was hired. He was the standard for all of us to follow. Within two years he wins a national championship and every coach on campus was chasing his leadership. He has been unbelievably supportive of my program and he has been somewhat of a mentor to me as a head coach. He is always interested in what my team is doing and very happy for our success. He is just such a great ambassador for the University of Oklahoma athletics department and the whole state of Oklahoma. He will be missed. What he has done is unprecedented in the football program, but just in regards to his leadership in the athletics department, there will be a big void to fill. I'm excited to welcome the Lincoln Riley era starting tomorrow."
TEXAS A&M COACH KEVIN SUMLIN
"Bob is a tremendous mentor to so many players and coaches, including myself. Not only is he a great mentor to me, but he and his wife, Carol, have been great friends to Char and I for many years. His success and longevity speak for themselves. He will be a success in whatever he pursues. We wish Bob and his family the very best."