The winningest coach in Oklahoma history, Bob Stoops owns the singular distiction of being the only college head coach to lead his squad to victory in every BCS bowl game and the BCS National Championship Game.
Quantifying the lasting impact that Stoops has made on Oklahoma is the easy part. No head coach in the Sooners’ illustrious history has produced more victories than Stoops (160), who surpassed Barry Switzer in 2013. That OU coaching lineage of 100-game winners also includes the iconic Bud Wilkinson and Bennie Owen.
Stoops has led the Sooners to a school-record 15 consecutive bowl berths and eight Big 12 titles. Even though he didn’t arrive in Norman until the Big 12 was three years old, the Youngstown, Ohio, native has already coached the program to more than twice as many championships as any other school in the league with eight.
Putting Stoops’ accomplishments and remarkable consistency in the proper national perspective isn’t difficult. No team from a BCS conference owns more victories or a better winning percentage than Oklahoma (160-39, .804) since he took over the Sooners’ fortunes. No school can claim more BCS berths since 2000 than Oklahoma’s nine. Only three schools can boast longer active streaks of consecutive bowl berths.
This 30-year coaching veteran completed his winning BCS bowl cycle as Oklahoma registered a 45-31 victory over No. 3 Alabama in the 80th Allstate Sugar Bowl. That victory vaulted the Sooners to the No. 6 spot in the final AP Poll. Dating back to the 2000 campaign, no team boasts more AP Top 10 finishes than Oklahoma (9).
Among teams from BCS conferences only Alabama (72) and Oregon (67) have more wins than Oklahoma (63) over the past six seasons, a tribute to Stoops and his talented staff. Stoops, Nick Saban (Alabama) and Les Miles (LSU) are the only three FBS coaches that have guided their their schools to 10 or more victories each of the past four campaigns, a remarkable feat in today’s college football landscape.
Only Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer (1987) and Troy’s Larry Blakeney (1991) have been at their posts longer. Add it all up, and it’s easy to see why ESPN the Magazine named Oklahoma the top college football program of the BCS era in 2012. Among active FBS coaches, only Urban Meyer owns a better winning percentage at .837 (128-25).
During his remarkable run, Stoops has picked up 17 coach of the year citations, including eight on the national level (only five coaches nationally have won more conference coach of the year awards). Under Stoops’ direction, the Sooners have posted 12 seasons with 10 or more wins in his 15 years at OU, a total that no FBS program can top dating back to 1999.
Prior to his arrival at Oklahoma, the proud Sooner program was five years removed from a winning record and hadn’t produced double-digit victories since 1987. OU has also registered 10 seasons with 11 or more wins since the start of the 2000 campaign, a figure that leads the nation over that span. Stoops reached 100 victories faster than any coach in college football history. In fact, only five coaches needed fewer games to reach the 150-win plateau than Stoops (187 games). That list reads like a who’s who of the game’s coaching elite: Switzer (180 games), Fielding Yost (180), Gil Doobie (180), Joe Paterno (184) and Tom Osborne (186).
Since the start of the 21st century, Oklahoma has been the standbearer of success among BCS conference schools in 11 major categories. Over the past 14 seasons, OU leads all those schools in victories (153), winning percentage (.818), total touchdowns (881), turnover differential (+108), takeaways (410) and third-down conversions (1,230). Impressive totals, indeed.
Conference supremacy has also been a trademark of Stoops’ tenure in Norman. In addition to eight Big 12 trophies, no Big 12 squad owns more regular season conference wins (99) or victories against AP Top 25 foes (50) than Oklahoma dating back to 1999. Over the past four years, the Sooners’ 27 Big 12 wins and 14 victories against ranked foes remain the top mark in the conference, as well.
The 2013 campaign may have marked one of finest all-around coaching efforts of Stoops and his staff in recent memory as OU utilizing two different starting quarterbacks and a revamped defensive scheme filled with untested performers. Oklahoma registered its first victory over Notre Dame in half a century before overcoming injuries to senior leaders on both sides of the ball to conclude the Big 12 schedule with back-to-back road wins in bitter cold at Kansas State and at Oklahoma State. Oklahoma’s ninth BCS bowl berth ensued, culminating in blockbuster victory against an Alabama squad that had won back-to-back national championships.
But Stoops has long insisted that players win games, not coaches. However, it’s hard to argue with the consistent level of top-flight talent Stoops and his staff have attracted to Oklahoma. Two Heisman winners and five Heisman finalists have been characteristic of the offensive playmakers who have signed with the Sooners. If you want opulent offense, look no further than Owen Field. Stoops’ 2008 team was the first to score 60 or more points in five straight games en route to scoring an NCAA single-season record with 716 points.
There has been no lack of game-changing defensive performers on the roster, either. Oklahoma is the only program to produce two players who won the Thorpe and Nagurski Awards in the same season. Sizzling special teams performers have been part of the equation, as well. Over the past three seasons alone the Sooners have registered six touchdowns and three safeties in the kicking game.
Stoops is respected as a grounded family man, big-game coach, relentless recruiter, strong leader and a person with uncommon perspective. His success emanates from a disciplined style true to his roots in the Steel Valley of Ohio, but he is far from inflexible. The principles to which he holds are the tried and true axioms of the sport mixed with cutting-edge strategy and an appreciation for the calculated risk.
The son of a longtime high school coach, Stoops was a four-year starter at Iowa under Hayden Fry, who gave him his coaching start in 1983. He would later play a key role in one of the most impressive turnarounds in college football history on Bill Snyder’s staff at Kansas State from 1989-95. Eventually, he left for Florida and a three-year stint as Steve Spurrier’s defensive coordinator. It was with the Gators, and a national championship team in 1996, that the spotlight found Stoops and made him one of the hottest names in the profession. His hiring at Oklahoma was one for the ages.
Oklahoma has set four NCAA records and set or tied 112 school records under Stoops, not including bowl bests and marks specific to a particular position. Stoops has authored two of the seven longest winning streaks in Oklahoma history. His 2000 and 2001 teams combined to win 20 straight, while the 2002 and 2003 teams combined to reel off 14 in a row. Those victories all came against FBS opponents.
Stoops’ squads have put together the school’s longest home field winning streak at 39. That’s also the ninth-longest in the history of college football. Stoops also has fashioned two other streaks of 19 straight.
Oklahoma won the 2000 national championship and played for three more. The Sooners have spent 30 weeks at No. 1 in the AP poll and a national-leading 20 weeks atop the BCS standings.
OU has registered double-digit victories in 128 of Stoops’ 198 games. The Sooners boast an 81-1 mark under Stoops when scoring 40 points or more.
Oklahoma has played in 15 straight bowl games under Stoops. Never had an OU coach taken even his first three teams to bowls.
The Sooners have not lost back-to-back regular season games under Stoops since October 1999, his inaugural OU year. Oklahoma is 31-0 in regular season games immediately following a loss since that time.
An Oklahoma player finished among the top seven in the Heisman voting six times on Stoops’ watch: Sam Bradford (No. 1 in 2008), Adrian Peterson (No. 2 in 2004), Jason White (No. 3 in 2004), Jason White (No. 1 in 2003), Roy Williams (No. 7 in 2001) and Josh Heupel (No. 2 in 2000).
Under Stoops, OU has produced 34 All-Americans and two AP Players of the Year. Two players have earned the Davey O’Brien Award a combined three times. Two different Sooners have claimed the following honors: Nagurski Award, Thorpe Award, Butkus Award. At least one of his OU student-athletes has earned one of these accolades: Bednarik Award, Lombardi Award, Walter Camp Award, Maxwell Award, Unitas Award, Outland Trophy, Wuerffel Trophy and the Mosi Tatupu Award.
All 92 home games of Stoops tenure have been sold out and the stadium capacity has been increased by some 9,000 seats since his arrival. In a state of 3.5 million people and two other FBS programs, attendance in Norman routinely exceeds 85,000, including a school-record 86,031 vs. Notre Dame (10/27/12).
Under Stoops, the Sooners are a combined 21-9 (.700) against their two biggest rivals, owning a 9-6 mark in the AT&T Red River Rivalry against Texas and a 12-3 record in Bedlam contests vs. Oklahoma State.