Bob Stoops is retiring as the head football coach at Oklahoma after a shocking announcement on Wednesday. While Stoops was undoubtedly successful on the field during his time in Norman, he leaves in his wake a complicated legacy. Thanks to some high-profile bowl game failures and, more importantly, a terrible disciplinary record, many won’t look upon Stoops as an all-time great.
Stoops took over as Oklahoma’s head coach in 1999 and put together a remarkable overall record. In 18 seasons under Stoops, the Sooners were 190-48, for an incredible winning percentage of .798. The Sooners won a national title in Stoops’ second season in charge, took home 10 Big 12 championships and notched 10 or more wins 14 times. But it wasn’t all roses for the Sooners under their now-departed coach.
Stoops posted a disappointing 9-9 record in bowl games and his teams were 5-6 in BCS bowl games including a 1-3 record in national championship games. Now look, you’ve got to be pretty darn good to get to that many BCS bowls and championship games, but if any Sooner fans try to tell you they weren’t disappointing with Stoops’ bowl record they’re outright lying.
But the biggest issues from the Stoops era didn’t come on the field. What most people outside of Norman will remember is the high-profile off-field issues that occurred under his watch, and his repeated acceptance of players of questionable character. The most recent, and most egregious example was the Joe Mixon scandal that rocked not just Oklahoma, but the college football world.
We all know the story, Mixon essentially caved a coed’s face in and Stoops basically made him take a redshirt year. Until the video was released publicly years later, Oklahoma stood by Mixon. Then they were finally forced to admit maybe they didn’t handle it well. Of course, that was after Mixon spent two seasons tearing up the field for the Sooners. Oh, and that wasn’t his only off-field incident while in Norman.
But Mixon wasn’t close to the only player of “questionable character” Stoops allowed on his team. There’s Dede Westbrook, who one NFL scout called “a degenerate” after he was arrested twice for domestic violence. Stoops also welcomed dorial green-beckham’s transfer to Oklahoma after the supremely-talented wide receiver was booted from Missouri. Beckham was kicked off the team at Mizzou following two drug-related arrests and an incident in which he shoved a woman down a flight of stairs.
Then there was the Rhett Bomar scandal, where the quarterback and lineman J.D. Quinn were booted from the program after working at a no-show jobs at a car dealership owned by a prominent OU booster. That wound up leading to probation for the Sooners and a failure to minor charge against Stoops. The NCAA later reversed part of its decision, but the charges were a stain nonetheless.
In 2004, defensive lineman Dusty Dvoracek brutally assaulted long-time friend Matthew Wilde. Wilde had to be hospitalized as a result and it was just one of many examples of Dvoracek acting out violently. He was kicked off the team but then Stoops reinstated him a few months later. Way to send a message that violence won’t be tolerated Bob!
Even Stoops’ golden boy quarterback Baker Mayfield got in trouble with the law this offseason. Stoops never disciplined his signal-caller. Two other players were arrested for public intoxication this offseason as well, and while that kind of action can be forgiven as college kids being college kids, it’s still not a great look.
Stoops was also a fan of internal discipline which is coach-speak for “as far as you know I might address the issue with the players, but don’t ask me about specifics.”
I’m not writing this to call Stoops a bad person, or question his character. I don’t know Bob Stoops any more than most people. But it’s fair to say that nationally, his legacy as an elite college football coach has been tarnished by high-level failures and disciplinary issues. In fact, because he’s retiring at this point, most people will remember his incredible weak response to the Mixon scandal. That’s the last image we’ll have of him as a college football coach.