Brian Kelly of Cincinnati will be the most popular name connected to the soon-to-be vacant Notre Dame coaching job. Other names, such as ESPN analyst Jon Gruden and Florida pipe dream Urban Meyer are expected to be in the mix as well.
What about Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops?
This doesn’t have a ton to do with Oklahoma’s humbling 10-3 loss last night in Lincoln to rival Nebraska. (Landry Jones tossed five interceptions and for the first time in the Stoops era, the Sooners didn’t score a touchdown.) But there will be a tiny fraction of nutty Oklahoma fans who wake up today and say, “we were supposed to be in the National title mix and now we’re 5-4 … and Stoops hasn’t won a big game in forever …” And we all know those knuckleheads voice their opinion loudest.
1) Stoops was in the mix for the Irish job in 2001. He declined. (Florida also came after him to replace Steve Spurrier at about the same time.) Notre Dame, having failed miserably in coaching hires since Lou Holtz departed in 1996, will be desperate to bring in a proven winner. And not just to get back to success on the field – but for the NBC TV contract. After Notre Dame gets shut down in its quest to aim high for Urban Meyer, Stoops could be the 2nd name on the list.
2) Oklahoma, which has finished in the Top 10 in seven of the last nine seasons under Stoops, loses a ton of talent this year. QB Sam Bradford is going to the NFL. So is TE Jermaine Gresham. Junior DT Gerald McCoy seems like a lock to jump to the NFL. Toss in players like senior LT Trent Williams, RB Chris Brown, LB Ryan Reynolds, and junior RB DeMarco Murray, and the core is gone. They don’t use the word “rebuilding” in Norman, but it seems highly unlikely that Oklahoma will be a Top 10 team next year.
3) In talking with a passionate, plugged-in Notre Dame alum last night, this was tossed out: Stoops is a Midwest guy (from Ohio, played football at Iowa) who perhaps could be lured back near his roots. And also he’s allegedly a “fan” of Notre Dame (though we couldn’t find a link to back this up.) Perhaps not on the Urban Meyer level (see “dream job” reference), though. And what’s left to accomplish at Oklahoma?
Oklahoma fans are certain to whip out the contract (has the $3 million buyout changed?) extension Stoops signed in June as proof that he’s not going anywhere. (By simply staying at Oklahoma each year, he will receive another $700k, plus another $250k as an annual raise.) But if there’s a college football program where money is no object, it is Notre Dame.
Should be an exciting week in South Bend.