And that's why, when Ron dropped dead of a heart attack on a high school sideline at 54, his son dedicated himself to living a life just like his father's. But he didn't become his dad—he became much better.
He's 42-4 the last four seasons with one national title and another one penciled in for this year. He's Coach Clutch with a 10-1 record against Top 10 teams, 16-1 against Top 25 over the same period. And he did it after inheriting the 101st-best offense in the country five seasons ago.
But he won't take his job seriously! He's addicted to gadget plays. He's been known to have his quarterback hand off through his legs to a running back. If he had his way, he'd fake punts as often as kick them. Somewhere, Bud Wilkinson is biting his whistle in half.
And he's got this completely dopey idea about discipline. He thinks college players need it! OU now graduates 82% of its football players, which—and I am not exactly sure—is an 8,200% increase over the Barry Switzer era. The biggest mess a Stoops troop has gotten into is the six traffic tickets amassed by free safety Brandon Everage last month. Hell, Brian Bosworth used to do that on the way to practice.
Football coaches are supposed to give it the Full Neuheisel: secretly sniff every job opening while insisting to the fans that you're not going anywhere. Stoops has gotten more offers than a prison hooker, but he hangs up on 'em! He's turned down Pitt, Iowa and Florida, and the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers.
Coach in Norman, Okla., instead of San Francisco? Were his taste buds removed at birth?
"I have a great life here," he says. "What more could I want?"
Can we all slap our foreheads in unison?
O.K., maybe he wants to go for the Living Legend thing—stay at one place forever and get the stadium named after him. At 43, Stoops already has 51 wins. At this pace, he'll pass Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden like they were Yugos. "No way," Stoops says. "It's O.K. for them, but I don't want to still be coaching when I'm their age."
In fact, sometimes Stoops wonders if he wants to coach at this age.