Q&A with Coach Bob Stoops

[MEDIA:32872]<BR> Last week, I got a chance to speak with Oklahoma Sooner Head Coach <B>Bob Stoops</B> for a few minutes. Stoops had a wonderful experience in Gainesville and now he is on a mission in Norman. Here, he talks about his relationship with Coach Spurrier, his time at UF, his championship run with the Sooners, his special moments as a Gator, why he stayed with the Sooners and much, much more.

Jamie Newberg: You and Coach Spurrier are good friends. Did you guys hit it off right away?
Bob Stoops:
Yes… I believe so for the most part. Just coming in and being new there I had such great respect for everything Coach Spurrier had done, how he won, the way he operated with his team. At first, I think I had so much respect for all that he accomplished. For me, it was more looking at him that way. More and more I was around, it was just that respect for me. But then we developed a great friendship.

Stoops in Gainesville as a defensive coordinator

JN: What is the biggest lessoned learned as a coach and a person while the Defensive Coordinator at UF?
As a person it was to keep balance in your life with family, friends and faith. It is important to win but not for sake of the others. That is something I really value. I guess as a coach, the most important lesson from coach was to truly enjoy the competition and the challenge of big time game and to enjoy the pressures of it.

JN: What was Spurrier's great asset as a coach other than his offensive mind?
His confidence and competitiveness. His confidence affects others and makes them perform better…it rubs off on them. The competitiveness comes with that confidence. He refuses everything but success.

Jacquez Green makes one of the biggest plays in Gator history against FSU

JN: Aside from winning the National Title, what was your greatest memory while being a Gator?
Aside from winning the title… probably my first year in 1996… all the hype and hoopla going into the Tennessee game in Knoxville. Taking the field and realizing this is why I wanted to be at Florida. To be in this kind of game and hearing so much about it the week before the game… all the media attention… people billing it as the game of the century. Peyton's emergence, we had Danny. Their new stadium of 107,000… taking the field, I had a great sense for Coach Spurrier's confidence. To see it and then be out on the field and be up 35-0 with 10 minutes to go in the 2nd quarter, that is something I will never forget. I had a similar feeling a few years ago playing a huge game against Texas, having such a huge lead with ten minutes to go in the 2nd quarter. That was something I will always remember. Another great memory I will never forget is the 1998 FSU game at Florida. That was the loudest I have ever heard a stadium. They were favored and we were underdogs. They were #1 and just the effort by our players and the crowd… you almost vibrated it was SO loud. I have never seen anything like that.

Stoops won the National Title quicker than most thought

JN: When you first took the Oklahoma job, how quickly did you think you could win or contend for the national championship? Did you ever imagine it could happen so quickly?
I didn't bother to think it could or it wouldn't. What you do you set your plan and fight everyday to get better and improve… to develop a sense of confidence and expectations. And every day, every week and every month you hope your players increase it and you are getting it across to your players that they are reaching and striving to get better. We were fortunate that it did come together in such a quick way. To say I didn't expect it wouldn't be right… to say that I knew it would happen wouldn't be right either. It just something a coach doesn't put a timetable on it. I just wanted us to scrap and fight everyday to make our program better. Fortunately, we were able to.

QB Josh Heupel was a big reason why the Sooners won the title

JN: What were the two or three keys to running the table in 2000?
A couple big keys were Josh Heupel, his improvement from one year to the next with a lot of hard work on his part with our people working with them.... the improvements in our running game. The defense got better every week through the season. The games were important where we need for them to play well… Kansas State, Texas, Nebraska… we really played excellent defense all into the championship games. The defense was really special. The kicking game was big too.

JN: You had a brilliant defensive scheme or game plan against FSU in the National Championship game... having played against the Noles while at Florida, how much did that help prepare you going into the title game?

Mike Stoops

BS: Only some. I can't sit year and take credit for that game plan. That was my bother Mike and Brent Vanables, Jackie Shipp, Bobby Jack Wright and our entire defensive coaches. Mike puts together the plan and confers with Brent, our co-coordinator. Mike put together some different things that I had not done. It would not be fair to me to say it was me. What helped was our team was our attitude in playing Florida State. That is what I got from being at Florida and competing against them. I had a good feeling for going after FSU and what our attitude needed to be to beat them. From experiencing it, in ‘98, the National Championship game, our teams' attitude on how you need to play them on offense and defense. That helped me and I had to get that across to our team and our approach to playing and competing against them.

JN: You coached two National Champions over the past seven years at Florida ('95) and Oklahoma ('00)... what team was better?
That is all coffee talk stuff. Every team is different. All teams are different and to me, it is impossible to compare year to year, different teams to other teams. There are parts to Oklahoma's team that were better than Florida's and some parts Florida were better than ours. There are enough similarities… Danny was the Heisman Trophy winner and Josh was the runner-up in a tight race. Excellent defense on both teams. It is hard to do.

JN: How surprised were you that coach Spurier resigned from Florida?
It caught me off guard and surprised me initially. The more I thought about it the more it made sense in that I know coach Spurrier well enough, that I always knew in the end, he would not be satisfied unless he did compete in the NFL. He is just one of those people that just loves challenges and wants to see how he would do. He is not afraid of them. I do not think he would feel complete unless he coached in the NFL and seeing what he could do. I also know he doesn't want to be a coach, coaching late into his sixties… that together, it was the right time. He had a great run at Florida with a lot of championships and he had been there a great number of years. He is that kind of guy that he would not let anyone know what he is really thinking. So after thinking about, I thought sure, it makes perfect sense. I had a feeling it would come sometime, but when it does really happen, it catches you off-guard.

Stoops tells the media and Sooner fans he is staying in Norman

JN: How close were you to taking the Florida job?
Well, I am not going to get into that. Everyone knows that I have a lot of sentiment for Florida, the University, the people there, the players, Jeremy Foley (AD), everyone associated with the program. I have a lot of great friends there. That program is important. But I also have a lot of allegiance, loyalty, and friends here that I have developed in three years… and a commitment to my players and to continue to develop this program. In the end, I felt that was most important. … that I stick to what I had started here. That was right thing to do for me, my family and the University of Oklahoma. It also tells you how positive and how good I feel how things are here and the support I get from our administration. Those were the important reasons to stay here in Norman.

JN: Can you compare Norman and Gainesville... two football crazed towns in two football crazed states?
That is exactly what they are… they are people that are very passionate and love their football and love all their sports. Football is special, stadiums are sold out and people want to win a championships or they are not satisfied. That is good. For us here, winning seven national championships and anything short of that is not acceptable. That is OK and that is what it is like at special programs like Oklahoma and Florida.

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