Florida coaching search: Bob Stoops should top Gators' wish list | David Whitley
While Dan Mullen was getting his affairs in order Monday, I was finding out who will replace him as Florida’s coach. After talking to sources and scouring internet reports, I can tell you the list has quickly been narrowed to…
Lane Kiffin, Mario Cristobal, Billy Napier, James Franklin, Matt Campbell, Luke Fickell, Mark Stoops, Mike Elko, Deion Sanders, Todd Monken, Dan Quinn, Jon Gruden, Jeff Hafley, Brian Johnson, Urban Meyer, Dave Clawson, Dave Aranda, Dave Matthews, Dave Grohl and maybe a couple of surviving members of The Dave Clark Five.
In other words, your guess is as good as mine. At this point, people are just throwing names against the wall and hoping one might eventually stick. Here’s the first name Scott Stricklin should throw.
Bob Stoops, come on down!
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Before I say why, let me note that Stricklin hasn’t taken me up on my kind offer to join the search committee. The feeling nationwide is there are more good jobs than good candidates, and Florida will be in a wooing contest against LSU and USC.
It’s true, there are no sure things on the list. You can find a flaw with any of them, including Stoops.
“Bob Stoops is too old,” one website commented.
Stoops is 61, so he is ancient enough to remember Georgia’s last national championship. But he is nine years younger than Nick Saban. Bill Belichick and Bruce Arians are 69. Pete Carroll is 70.
No one who voted for Joe Biden should have an issue with Stoops’ age. If you trust a 79-year-old to handle the nuclear codes, you should be able to trust a 61-year-old to handle the Kentucky game plan.
Other than Stoops’ D.O.B, what’s to nitpick?
Bob Stoops would be a throwback to Steve Spurrier days
Gator Nation would go absolutely gaga. As Steve Spurrier’s assistant, he engineered the defense that put the Fun-n-Gun over the top in 1996.
Three years later, he was hired to resurrect Oklahoma’s program. Two years later, the Sooners were national champs.
Stoops won 10 Big 12 titles in 18 seasons, which was more than the rest of the league combined. He was as good at the end of his OU career as he was at the beginning, going 22-4 in his final two seasons.
Then, on June 7, 2017, Stoops stunned the world by announcing his retirement at age 56.
“The Bible says, ‘To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,’” he said. “I'm grateful for this season of my life, and feel I've fulfilled my purpose here at OU as its head football coach.”
There were no health issues or pending NFL offers. Stoops knew the Sooners would be in capable hands with Lincoln Riley, and he just wanted to do something else with his life.
He seems to be enjoying doing nothing much in particular. Stoops is part owner of a tequila company. He’s watched his son, Drake, play wide receiver for Oklahoma the past four years.
He became an analyst for Fox this year and was on set at the OU-Iowa State game last Saturday. He led the crowd in chanting “Texas Still Sucks!”
We can assume Stoops would decline any offers to coach the woebegone Longhorns. As for other entreaties, who knows?
Would Bob Stoops want to return to coaching?
Stoops says he’s content dabbling around and living the good life, but he might be persuadable. He surprised everyone when he became the coach and general manager of the XFL Dallas Renegades two years ago.
Stoops told The Oklahoman he was reluctant when the XFL first approached him, but “my love of football won out.”
Stoops always said he didn’t want to grow old on a sideline, but he missed the competition and camaraderie that keeps guys like Saban merrily grinding away.
His Renegades were 2-3 when the XFL shut down due to the pandemic. Try not to hold that against him. You wonder if the brief foray was enough to scratch his competitive itch.
Or was it reignited?
Nobody needs to tell Stoops the SEC isn’t the XFL. You have to be all-in. The first thing Stricklin should ask Stoops is whether he wants to beat Georgia as badly as Spurrier did.
Check that. The first thing Stricklin should ask is whether he wants to beat Georgia as badly as Kirby Smart wants to beat Florida.
Maybe Stoops will search his soul and say no. Either way, it’s a question worth asking.
With all due respect to Lane, Billy, Deion and the Daves, the first call Stricklin should make is to Norman, Oklahoma.
If Stoops still has a love of football, it could be the start of a beautiful relationship.
— David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at email@example.com. And follow him on Twitter: @DavidEWhitley