NCAA FB

Bob Stoops: Oklahoma football coach steps down after 18 seasons

Bob Stoops, the longtime Oklahoma head football coach who led the Sooners to an undefeated season and national championship in 2000, announced his retirement Wednesday, effective immediately. 

In a statement, Stoops said "the timing is perfect to hand over the reins" of the program to offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. He denied that his health was the "deciding factor in this decision and I've had no incidents that would prevent me from coaching."

Riley, 33, would be the youngest head coach in FBS. Just last month, Oklahoma gave Riley a three-year contract extension worth $1.3 million per year, making him one of the highest-paid coordinators in the country.

"Lincoln Riley will provide a seamless transition as the new head coach, capitalizing on an excellent staff that is already in place and providing familiarity and confidence for our players," Stoops said. "Now is simply the ideal time for me and our program to make this transition."

Riley takes over a team that will again be the favorites to win the Big 12 and a College Football Playoff, with a Heisman Trophy finalist in quarterback Baker Mayfield. His first game will be at home against UTEP on Sept. 2. His second game will be at Ohio State.

Stoops was 39 when he left Florida, where he was defensive coordinator under Steve Spurrier, to take over at Oklahoma in 1999. The storied program had struggled for more than a decade to replace Barry Switzer. Stoops quickly returned Oklahoma to national prominence, winning a national championship in his second season with a win over Florida State.

His early success that included three straight victories in major bowls and a five-game winning streak against Texas earned him the nickname "Big Game Bob."

While Stoops was not able to bring another national championship to Norman, he did lead Oklahoma to three more BCS championship games and a spot in the College Football Playoff two years ago.

The shortcomings in championship games and lack of another national title frustrated some fans. Oklahoma lost consecutive BCS championship games in 2003 and `04 and dropped another title game in 2008.

Big Game Bob wasn't delivering the biggest wins, but the program was as consistent a national power as any in the country during his tenure. Only four times in Stoops' career did the Sooners win less than 10 games, and he never had a losing record.

"Few athletics directors get a coach who better combines success and cohesiveness like Bob Stoops," Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, who hired Stoops. "I can't help but feel somewhat sad today because Bob has been such a constant in my life, and that's why I am so thankful that he will remain with us. He will continue to do great things for OU."

The son of a football coach from Youngstown, Ohio, Stoops is one of four brothers who became college football coaches. His father, Ron, died at 54 of a heart attack suffered while coaching a high school game.

Younger brother Mike Stoops is Oklahoma's defensive coordinator. Another younger brother, Mark, is head coach at Kentucky. Ron Stoops Jr. is an assistant coach at Youngstown State.

Bob Stoops and his wife, Carol, have three children. A daughter attends Oklahoma and twin sons are seniors in high school who are potential major college football players.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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