Spurrier resignation fuels Stoops speculationPosted: Friday January 04, 2002 6:19 PM
Updated: Saturday January 05, 2002 10:51 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Just three years after arriving as Oklahoma's football coach, could Bob Stoops be moving on?
Stoops is the top candidate to replace Steve Spurrier at Florida, a source familiar with the search told The Associated Press on Friday, hours after Spurrier resigned unexpectedly.
Stoops, who spent three years as defensive coordinator at Florida before coming to Oklahoma in December 1998, did not return messages left at his office or on his cellular phone.
But his brother, co-defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, told The Daily Oklahoman that he thought Bob had been contacted by Florida.
He told The Associated Press the decision would be a difficult one for his brother if the job is offered.
"It's hard for me to speculate," Mike Stoops said. "He has a great relationship with Steve, had a great time at Florida. On the other hand, he's built a legacy here at Oklahoma already as a head coach. To do what he's done at Oklahoma in such a short period of time is pretty special.
"I don't know what he's thinking," Mike Stoops said. "It's up to Bob and his family. Only Bob can tell you how he feels and why he feels that way."
Bob Stoops was defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Florida. His retooling of the Gators' defense played a significant role in Florida winning the 1996 national championship.
His work at Oklahoma has been remarkable. He took over a program that had not had a winning season in the previous five years and led the Sooners to a bowl game in his first season. The next year, 2000, Oklahoma went 13-0 and won the national championship. The Sooners were 11-2 this past season and wound up ranked No. 6.
He has been rewarded for his work -- his salary was bumped last summer to $2 million annually, second among college coaches only to Spurrier's $2.1 million. Stoops' contract runs through 2007.
Stoops has been mentioned as a possible candidate for other jobs since arriving at Oklahoma, but always said he was happy in Norman.
"Regardless of what you hear, I plan on being at Oklahoma for a long time," he said in January 2001 amid reports he might leave to become coach of the NFL's Cleveland Browns. "I'm fortunate to be the head football coach here," he said then.
Athletic director Joe Castiglione said he had been "bombarded" by reporters all day, but "I don't have anything to say."
"I can't comment on someone else's job," he said.
Castiglione said earlier that Stoops had not indicated the Florida job would pique his interest.
"It has never come up in conversation," Castiglione told The Daily Oklahoman. "Every time a job opens, that question gets raised, and every time he says he's happy to be at Oklahoma."
Stoops has often talked about how much he enjoyed his time at Florida and that he considers Spurrier his best friend in coaching.
Stoops owns a condominium in Crescent Beach, Fla., not far from where Spurrier has a beach house. Stoops visits in the late spring and early summer.