Stoops Back in the Coaching Saddle
NORMAN — Six hundred ten days after retiring as head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners, Bob Stoops is in charge of a football team again. On Thursday afternoon, OU's all-time wins leader was announced as head coach and general manager of the XFL's team in Dallas.
The new version of the XFL, which will kick off in February 2020, will feature eight teams with 45-man active rosters, a 10-week regular season and two-week postseason. Other XFL teams, which do not yet have head coaches, are slated for Houston (TDECU Stadium), Los Angeles (StubHub Center), New York (MetLife Stadium), St. Louis (The Dome at America's Center), Seattle (CenturyLink Field), Tampa (Raymond James Stadium) and Washington, D.C. (Audi Field). Stoops' Dallas squad will play at Globe Life Park in Arlington, current home of the Texas Rangers baseball team.
According to the league, the XFL "will reimagine football for the 21st century" and deliver "authentic, high-energy football for the whole family at an affordable price." The XFL also says it will feature fast-paced games, fewer play stoppages and simpler rules. Vince McMahon, the majority owner, chairman and CEO of WWE as well as founder of Alpha Entertainment, is the XFL's founder and chairman, while Oliver Luck, whom Stoops said he knows well from Luck's days as West Virginia's athletics director, is serving as the league's commissioner and CEO.
"Oliver reached out to me initially about the idea," Stoops explained this week. "I have a lot of respect for him and when he talks I listen. But my initial thought was, 'No, that's not something I'm interested in.' Then little by little, and after some further consideration for about a week, I thought this may fit me just right.
"My initial thought was, 'No, that's not something I'm interested in.' Then little by little, and after some further consideration for about a week, I thought this may fit me just right."
"So I visited with my wife, Carol, about it and just continued to think that this is something that could work really well for me. Once we talked through it, she also felt that this could fit in a good window for us and be something challenging and exciting for a certain part of the year in a great town and market."
Although he said he doesn't have a personal relationship with McMahon, Stoops acknowledged the successful executive and Luck are big reasons he accepted this opportunity to coach again. Stoops also said he likes that the new iteration of the XFL will be void of some of the attention ploys associated with the league during its first go-round that lasted only for the 2001 season.
"Vince McMahon, the leader of it all, and Oliver Luck are two accomplished people who I know will do the right things," explained Stoops. "They have a great vision for having a great game with some innovative ideas like a quicker clock that will bring more excitement, fitting the game into a tighter window. A lot of positives that way."
And then there's the fact that, well, Stoops hasn't exactly been comfortable the last two years without a team to lead.
"I've missed it, obviously," he said. "You don't do something your entire life — playing and coaching, and that's all you've been a part of — and then step away and it be easy. None of that was a surprise to me. I was aware that it was going to be difficult. This just seems like a good window and opportunity to get back in and get a good feel of it. Enjoy the competition and working with the guys again."
Part of the appeal for Stoops is the timing of the XFL season, which will start in early February and end in April. He said the late winter/early spring schedule will allow him to still enjoy "Football Time in Oklahoma."
"Bob's achievements at Oklahoma are legendary, and he's the perfect person to lead our team in Dallas. Having a coach as successful as Bob share the XFL's vision to reimagine the game is energizing and further validates our mission."
XFL Commissioner and CEO Oliver Luck
"The way I anticipate this working, there will be ample time in the summer to be back here and through the fall where I can still be a part of following the Sooners and being here on game days and watching my son (Drake) play. I anticipate it being that way and want it to be. So hopefully that's how it works out."
While coaching is certainly nothing new for Stoops, who went 190-48 (.798) at OU from 1999 to 2016, won 10 Big 12 titles, took the Sooners to 18 bowl games, four national championship games (won the 2000 title) and a College Football Playoff, he has no experience in the pros. But that's not necessarily a negative, he explained.
"That's what will be neat to see. It will be different at the professional level with your work day. There isn't any recruiting time in there. Your players aren't in class. So a lot of it will be different, which will be fun to experiment with, work through, be a part of and see how it goes. So I'm excited about the opportunity."
And the XFL is thrilled to have him.
"We're incredibly excited to have an individual as accomplished as Bob Stoops join the XFL family," said Luck. "Bob's achievements at Oklahoma are legendary, and he's the perfect person to lead our team in Dallas. Having a coach as successful as Bob share the XFL's vision to reimagine the game is energizing and further validates our mission."