Oklahoma Sooners head football coach Bob Stoops is retiring after 18 seasons in Norman, the university announced Wednesday.
Stoops, the longest tenured coach in college football, steps down after leading the Sooners to a 10th Big 12 title in 2016, and the university has officially promoted offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley to head coach.
“After 18 years at the University of Oklahoma, I’ve decided to step down as the head football coach,” Stoops said in a statement, via the Sooners’ team website. “I understand there has been some speculation about my health. My health was not the deciding factor in this decision and I’ve had no incidents that would prevent me from coaching. I feel the timing is perfect to hand over the reins. The program is in tremendous shape. We have outstanding players and coaches and are poised to make another run at a Big 12 and national championship. We have new state-of-the-art facilities and a great start on next year’s recruiting class. The time is now because 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. Now is simply the ideal time for me and our program to make this transition.”
Stoops, 56, amassed 190-48 record after earning his first head coaching opportunity with the Sooners in 1999 and leaves the program as the all-time winningest coach in school history (.789 winning percentage). He led OU to an undefeated national championship run in his second season (2000) at the helm and finishes his tenure at Oklahoma with 14 double-digit winning seasons.
“The coaching life is like a relay race and I’m thankful for my turn and am confident as I pass the baton. Carol and I intend on staying in Norman — it is our home. I will be available to Coach Riley and the athletic department in any manner. Thank you all for a lifetime of memories we shared together of 10 conference championships, the 2000 national championship, strong relationships with players and coaches, and the great Oklahoma football fans. Boomer!”
Riley, 33, takes over the Sooners program after spending the past two seasons as offensive coordinator and officially becomes the youngest head coach in the FBS.
“I’m sincerely honored to be given this opportunity to be the head football coach at the University of Oklahoma,” Riley said in a statement. “I want to thank Coach Stoops for bringing me here two years ago and making me part of the Sooner family. He is one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game, at any level. I’m absolutely thankful for our friendship and for the mentorship he has provided.”
“Coaching at Oklahoma is a dream come true for me and my family. I am extremely grateful to President Boren, Joe Castiglione, Chairman Bennett and the OU Board of Regents for believing in me and affording me this opportunity. I look forward to continuing the tradition of excellence that Coach Stoops and so many others before him have instilled in this great program.”
Oklahoma opens their 2017 schedule against UTEP at home on Sept. 2 and then travel to Columbus for a Saturday night showdown against the Ohio State Buckeyes.
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) June 7, 2017