Bob Stoops steps down as coach of Oklahoma Sooners

Bob Stoops, the longest-tenured coach in college football, will tell the Oklahoma Sooners on Wednesday that he is retiring after 18 seasons, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach.

Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley will succeed Stoops, who will remain with OU in some capacity, according to the Oklahoman, who first reported Stoops was retiring as head coach.

WWLS Radio reported that Stoops said he is not retiring because of his health and will meet with the team at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Stoops joined the Sooners as a rookie head coach in 1999, and he guided OU to the 2000 national championship, 10 Big 12 titles and had reached double-digit wins in 14 seasons, including a 11-2 mark in 2016.

“When I accepted this job, I knew it wasn’t a stepping-stone job, where you do well here and get a better job,” Stoops told ESPN prior to the 2016 season.

“I thought all along this was the best job.”

Overall, Stoops, who turns 57 on Sept. 9, is the winningest coach in OU history with a 190-48 record. He has gone 121-29 in Big 12 play and has taken the Sooners to bowl games in every one of his 18 seasons — going 9-9, capped with last year’s 35-19 victory over Auburn.

Stoops was finishing his third season as defensive coordinator under Steve Spurrier at Florida when the Sooners came calling and hired him in December 1999.

Oklahoma had fallen into disrepair after three losing seasons under John Blake. When Stoops arrived, chicken bones littered the practice field, where fans had still been allowed to tailgate. Even more telling, the sign Bud Wilkinson put up coming out of Oklahoma’s locker room, “PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY” was dilapidated and missing letters.

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After only two seasons with “Big Game Bob” at the helm, Oklahoma was a national champion again, beating No. 2 Florida State 13-2 in the BCS National Championship Game at the Orange Bowl.

The Sooners would play for the BCS national title three more times under Stoops, losing to LSU (2003 season), USC (2004) and Florida (2008).

His greatness on the sideline didn’t go without notice, as Stoops twice was named Walter Camp Coach of the Year in 2000 and 2003. He’s been the Big 12 coach of the year on six occasions. He is the only head coach in the BCS era to have won the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Sugar Bowl.

Over the years, Stoops’ name has been attached to many college and NFL coaching vacancies. Each time, however, Stoops chose to stay with the Sooners.

“This place has been great for my family,” Stoops told ESPN in August. “It’s always a major factor in decision-making, where you’re going to be. For my family overall, this has been a fantastic place to raise them. And the people here have been great.”

Stoops attended the University of Iowa and was a four-year starter at defensive back. His first coaching position was as a volunteer coach and graduate assistant for the Hawkeyes. That was followed by assistant coaching positions at Kent State, Kansas State and Florida, where he was part of the Gators’ national championship team in the 1996 season.

Stoops is part of a coaching family. His brother Mike is the Sooners’ defensive coordinator and was head coach at Arizona from 2003-2011. His brother Mark has been head coach at Kentucky since 2012, and brother Ron is special teams coach at Youngstown State.

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His coaching tree also includes names such as Mike Leach (Washington State), Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M), Bo Pelini (Youngstown State) and Jay Norvell (Nevada).