Stoops likely staying

Published: Saturday, January 4, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 4, 2003 at 1:45 a.m.
PASADENA, Calif. - Bob Stoops sure can dance. He waltzed with Notre Dame, two-stepped with Ohio State, line-danced with Cleveland, even been cheek to cheek with Florida. Arthur Murray might learn a thing or two from him.
Now gossip swirls that Stoops and Jacksonville have made eye contact across the dance floor. Stoops, after all, has been part coach, part genius, part savior for Oklahoma, and the Jaguars need all of those parts.
While the Jaguars might persuade Stoops, a former Florida defensive coordinator, to dance, they aren't likely to get his number. Let's recap the dance partners spurned:
Florida. Stoops wanted to go to Florida. Or did he? Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley flew to Norman and made Stoops an offer. Or did he? Stoops struggled mightily with the decision. Or did he?
This we do know: Stoops remained in Norman.
Ohio State. The campus is easy driving distance from Mama Stoops' house in Youngstown, Ohio. If Stoops wanted to coach college football and live close to his roots, this would've been the place. He instead said ``thanks, but no thanks'' before Ohio State could fuel the jet.
Cleveland. Before the Ohio State embers had cooled, another fire flamed. The Browns not only had the lure of home but also of professional football. The best play. The biggest checks.
After causing heart failure for about half of the Sooner Nation - ``I've always been intrigued by the NFL,'' he told The Tulsa World. ``And it certainly would be a job close to my home'' - Stoops stayed put.
Notre Dame. Stoops grew up in a Catholic home and went to a parochial school, where his father coached football and where his mother still volunteers. The Irish were at least a childhood favorite.
Stoops squelched the deal before it could begin.
And now that another successful season has ended, Stoops has again caught a suitor's eye. He bristled, though, when asked this week about his interest in NFL jobs.
``That's ridiculous,'' he said. ``We just won the Rose Bowl. I don't need to deal with rumors and innuendo.
``I'm not interested in anything. I love the job I have. I'm fortunate to have it.''

All the jobs that hold the strongest sway on Stoops have not pulled him away from Oklahoma. Here's betting Jacksonville isn't the one to do it. He isn't going anywhere.
At least not soon. A time might come when Stoops looks at all he's created and proclaims it finished. No more to build. No more to accomplish.
Such seemed the case with Stoops' former boss, Steve Spurrier. He built Florida into a power. One national championship. Six conference titles. More than a hundred victories. Then one day Spurrier realized he needed a new challenge and jumped to the NFL.
That day hasn't arrived for Stoops. He already has a national title, a bevy of supporters, and successive wins in the Orange, Cotton and Rose bowls, but his teams haven't even won back-to-back Big 12 titles.
Stoops might dance with other teams, but sticks with the one who brought him.

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