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 (179), who surpassed Barry Switzer in 2013. That OU coaching lineage of 100-game winners also includes the iconic Bud Wilkinson and Bennie Owen.
Stoops, the longest-tenured FBS head coach (hired on Dec. 1, 1998, he has Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz beat by one day), has led the Sooners to a school-record 17 consecutive bowl berths and nine Big 12 titles. He has guided the program to eight or more victories each of the past 16 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 three times as many championships (nine) as the next closest 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 (179) since Stoops took over the Sooners’ fortunes, while only Ohio State can claim 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 17 seasons than Stoops.
During the BCS era, Stoops was the only coach to win a national championship and every BCS bowl game. He completed that winning cycle as Oklahoma registered a 45-31 victory over No. 3 Alabama in the 80th Allstate Sugar Bowl to cap the 2013 season. That victory vaulted the Sooners to the No. 6 spot in the final AP Poll to give them their ninth AP top-10 finish under Stoops (they added a 10th in 2015).
Among programs from Power Five conferences, Oklahoma is one of only nine that has averaged 10 or more victories over that past six seasons, a remarkable feat in today’s college football landscape.
Conference supremacy has also been a trademark of Stoops’ tenure in Norman. Over the past six seasons the Sooners own a 62-17 (.785) overall mark, as well as a 40-13 (.755) regular season conference record, both of which are the best of any Big 12 team from 2010-15. Not only does Oklahoma own the most victories against AP Top 25 foes among Big 12 teams over the past six years, the Sooners are the only Big 12 squad to post a winning record in such games, going 19-12.
Add it all up, and it’s easy to see why ESPN the Magazine in 2012 named Oklahoma the top college football program of the BCS era.
During his remarkable run, Stoops has picked up 18 coach-of-the-year citations, including eight on the national level. Under his direction, the Sooners have posted 13 seasons with 10 or more wins over the past 16 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. But since the start of the 2000 campaign, OU has registered 10 seasons with 11 or more wins, 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 55-28 (.663) against AP Top 25 foes during his tenure with 20 wins against AP top-10 squads and 11 victories against top-five teams.
Since the start of the 21st century, Oklahoma has been the standard bearer of success among Power Five schools in a number of major categories. Over the past 16 seasons, OU leads all those schools in victories (172), home winning percentage (.919) and third-down conversions (1,381). Over that same span, the Sooners rank second in the nation in overall winning percentage (.808), conference winning percentage (.805), total touchdowns (1,016) and takeaways (456).
Among active FBS coaches who have coached at least 10 seasons, only Urban Meyer (.851) and Chris Peterson (.817) have better winning percentages.
While 17 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 nationally to score 60 or more points in five straight games en route to an NCAA single-season record 716 points. OU’s 2015 squad averaged 43.5 points per game to rank fourth nationally.
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 four seasons alone the Sooners have registered seven touchdowns 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 later played a key role in one of the most impressive turnarounds in college football history as a member of Bill Snyder’s Kansas State staff 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.
Bob Stoops is the winningest coach in Oklahoma history with a 179-46 overall record. He ranks third at OU with his .796 career winning percentage.
Has won more games in his first 17 years than any college coach.
Reached 150 wins in 187 games (sixth fastest all-time).
Has led the Sooners to a school-record 17 consecutive bowl berths (the previous record was eight under Barry Switzer). Never had an OU coach taken even his first three teams to bowls.
Is the only coach in the BCS era to win a national championship and every BCS bowl game (Fiesta, Orange, Rose, Sugar).
Since he took over at OU in 1999, has coached Sooners to more wins than any other Power Five program during that time span.
Has directed the Sooners to the second highest winning percentage of any Power Five program since 1999, trailing only Ohio State.
Under his direction, Oklahoma is one of only five Power Five programs to average 10 wins per year over the last 10 seasons.
Has 13 seasons of 10 or more wins, the most of any FBS coach since 2000.
Oklahoma is 55-28 (.663) vs. AP Top 25 teams in the Stoops era. The win percentage is the best in the country during the span and the win total is third behind LSU (57) and Alabama (56).
Owns a 96-8 home record, which included a school-record 39-game winning streak (ninth longest in college football history) and two 19-game strings. The .923 home winning percentage is the best among Power 5 programs (Ohio State is second at .875).
OU is a combined 23-11 under Stoops against their two biggest rivals (13-4 vs. Oklahoma State and 10-7 against Texas).
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.
The Sooners have not lost back-to-back regular season games under Stoops since October 1999, his inaugural OU year. Oklahoma is 35-0 in regular season games immediately following a loss since that time.
IN THE RANKINGS
Oklahoma won the 2000 national championship, played in three more BCS National Championship Games and made the four-team 2015 College Football Playoff. The Sooners have spent 30 weeks at No. 1 in the AP poll under Stoops and were atop the BCS standings for a nation-leading 20 weeks.
In the 17-year Stoops era, no team has more AP top-five appearances than OU’s 121. Alabama (113) is next, followed by Ohio State (98), USC (86) and Florida (82) and Texas (82).
OU has appeared in the top 10 of the final AP Poll 10 times under Stoops and has finished in the top five on six occasions.
Stoops has coached OU to nine Big 12 championships. No other program has more than two Big 12 titles during the Stoops era.
Oklahoma owns a league-best 112-29 (.794) record in regular season Big 12 games during the Stoops era. Texas ranks second with a 101-40 (.716) record and is followed by TCU (21-15; .583), Kansas State (78-63; .553), Oklahoma State (76-65; .539), Texas Tech (71-70; .504), West Virginia (15-21; .417), Baylor (47-94; .333), Iowa State (41-100; .291) and Kansas (32-109; .227).
OU owns a 61-17 overall mark the last six years and a 40-13 league record, both the best of any Big 12 team during that span.
Stoops guided the Sooners to more wins against AP Top 25 teams than any Big 12 program since 2010. OU is the only program in the conference with a winning record in such games (19-12).
Stoops has produced 36 first-team All-Americans, two AP Players of the Year and 79 NFL Draft picks as OU’s head coach.
Stoops has coached two Heisman Trophy winners (Jason White in 2003 and Sam Bradford in 2008) and five Heisman finalists.
An Oklahoma has player finished among the top seven in the Heisman voting seven times on Stoops’ watch: Baker Mayfield (No. 4 in 2015), 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 his guidance, OU became the first program to produce two players who claimed the Thorpe and Nagurski Awards in the same season (Roy Williams in 2001 and Derrick Strait in 2003).
Two different Sooners have claimed the following honors in the Stoops era: Nagurski Award (Roy Williams, Derrick Strait), Thorpe Award (Roy Williams, Derrick Strait), Butkus Award (Rocky Calmus, Teddy Lehman) and Wuerffel Trophy (Gabe Ikard, Ty Darlington).
Stoops’ OU players have also won each of the following accolades: the Bednarik Award, Lombardi Award, Walter Camp Award, Maxwell Award, Unitas Award, Outland Trophy, Burlsworth Trophy, Campbell Trophy and the Mosi Tatupu Award.
Oklahoma set an NCAA Division I single-season record in 2008 by scoring 716 points. OU topped the 50-point mark nine times that season and surpassed the 60-point plateau in five straight games.
OU has registered double-digit victories in 144 of Stoops’ 225 games. The Sooners boast a 96-1 mark when scoring 40 points or more.
All 104 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 (Oct. 27, 2012).
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS A PLAYER
Four-year starter at defensive back, Iowa (1979-82)
Honorable Mention All-American (1982)
Two-time All-Big Ten selection (1979, 1982)
Career totals included 205 tackles and 10 interceptions
Iowa team Most Valuable Player (1982