The biggest story of OU’s offseason turned out to be a giant game of who-knows-what, according to a report.
Those who found out about former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops’ retirement on June 7 weren’t the first to know. He began informing people of his decision to walk away as early as two weeks before, starting with his brother and defensive coordinator, Mike Stoops, according to ESPN’s Jake Trotter.
“It was hard for me to keep it (secret),” Mike Stoops told ESPN. “I couldn’t talk to anybody, because I didn’t want (it to get out). It was weird.”
Eventually, Mike received a call from another Stoops brother, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops. Neither was sure what the other knew, so Mark inquired — coyly — whether Bob was OK.
“I said, ‘Yeah, Bob is fine, what do you mean?’ But he didn’t tell me (Bob) had told him, ” Mike Stoops said. “I found out later (Bob) had, so I called him back said, ‘Why didn’t you tell me you knew?'”
According to the story, Bob Stoops informed his longtime director of football operations, Matt McMillen, of his decision just two days before it was announced during a seemingly routine backyard barbecue. As Stoops stood over the grill, he was unusually quiet. It was only when dinner was served that he dropped the bomb.
“I couldn’t think of anything to say,” McMillen told ESPN. “Couldn’t even ask a question. That’s how blindsided I was.”
Stoops’ successor, 33-year-old Lincoln Riley, had no such warning, however.
Although Stoops had mentioned to his offensive coordinator the week before he was considering retirement, he never indicated a firm decision either way.
Just six hours before he would be introduced as Oklahoma’s next head coach, Riley was called to athletics director Joe Castiglione’s office and officially made aware of Stoops’ decision.
“(Castiglione) told me for sure that’s what Bob was doing,” Riley said. “And making sure that I wanted the job, which, that was a pretty easy decision.”
As for Stoops, he said June 7 and several times since he doesn’t intend to coach again — an idea firmly backed by McMillen. When the Sooners kick off their season Sept. 2 against UTEP, it will be the first college football Saturday Stoops hasn’t spent on a sideline as a coach or player in 39 years.
“He said forever he wasn’t going to coach until he was old,” McMillen told ESPN. “But as you get older, 50-whatever doesn’t seem very old. When you get to that age, maybe you think 65 is old.
“That’s why I didn’t think it was going to be as soon as it was. I thought it was two- or three-year window away.”