The winningest coach in Oklahoma history, Bob Stoops and the Sooners have become synonymous with success as he has firmly etched his indelible stamp upon college football.
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 (168), 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 16 consecutive bowl berths and eight Big 12 titles. He has guided the program to eight or more victories each of the past 15 seasons, the longest active streak of any FBS head coach. 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 (eight) as any other school in the league.
Putting Stoops’ accomplishments and remarkable consistency in the proper national perspective isn’t difficult. No team from a Power Five conference owns more victories than Oklahoma (168) since Stoops took over the Sooners’ fortunes, while only Ohio State can boast a better winning percentange since 1999. Under the direction of this 31-year coaching veteran, only three schools can boast longer active streaks of consecutive bowl berths. And no coach in the game’s history has accumulated more victories over his first 16 seasons than Stoops.
Conference supremacy has also been a trademark of Stoops’ tenure in Norman. Over the past five seasons the Sooners own a 51-15 (.773) overall mark, as well as a 32-12 (.727) regular season conference record, both of which are the best of any Big 12 team from 2010-14. Not only does Oklahoma own the most victories against AP Top 25 foes over the past five years, the Sooners are the only Big 12 squad to post a winning record in such games, going 14-11.
Only Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer (1987) has been at his post longer than Stoops. 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 .844 (141-26).
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 over the past 15 seasons, a total that no FBS program can top dating back to 2000.
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 nine seasons with 11 or more wins since the start of the 2000 campaign, tying Ohio State for the top total by a Power Five school.
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).
Stoops’ OU squads have frequently risen to the occasion against the nation’s toughest teams. The Sooners are 50-27 (.685) against AP Top 25 foes during his tenure with 18 wins against AP top-10 squads and 10 victories against top-five teams.
Since the start of the 21st century, Oklahoma has been the standbearer of success among Power Five schools in a number of major categories. Over the past 15 seasons, OU leads all those schools in victories (159), home winning percentage (.914) and third-down conversions (1,302). Over that same span, the Sooners rank second in the nation in overall winning percentage (.803), conference winning percentage (.798), total touchdowns (941) and takeaways (429).
While 16 seasons have passed, Stoops’ no-nonsense approach to the game hasn’t changed. He 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 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 eight 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 five NCAA records and set or tied 113 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 boasted a national-leading 20 weeks atop the BCS standings during its existence.
OU has registered double-digit victories in 135 of Stoops’ 212 games. The Sooners boast an 87-1 mark under Stoops when scoring 40 points or more.
Oklahoma has played in 16 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 34-0 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 98 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 22-10 (.688) against their two biggest rivals, owning a 10-6 mark in the AT&T Red River Showdown against Texas and a 12-4 record in Bedlam contests vs. Oklahoma State.