Stoops Remains Fond of UF Years, People

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops could have been the Gators head coach back in 2002 when Steve Spurrier stepped down. Stoops had been the Gator defensive coordinator from 1996-98 after a highly successful stint at the co-coordinator at Kansas State.

He had just finished his third season with the Sooners where his record was 31-7 including a perfect national championship season in 2000. Many thought and Florida hoped that Stoops would return to the SEC; however his comfort zone with the Oklahoma administration and loyalty to the school for his first head coach opportunity kept him in Norman. That eventually led to Florida hiring Ron Zook and later, Urban Meyer.

Stoops has had a phenomenal run with Oklahoma, winning 121 games in 10 years with just 24. The only tarnish on his resume is a current four game losing streak in BCS bowl games with two of those losses in championship game settings. He, like Meyer is going for his second national title Thursday night. On Monday's media day, Stoops talked about his ties to the Gators. He was asked about becoming a Gator in the first place and how Florida Athletic director Jeremy Foley played a role in that happening.

BS: From what I understand, Jeremy asked Coach (Spurrier) do you realize who the number one defense in the country was. Coach didn't know and he might have put out a few guesses then and Jeremy said it was Kansas State. Between the two of them you would have to ask them how it worked, but then coach Spurrier called me out of the blue. It is true I didn't say anything for a while because I wasn't sure it was him. I didn't even know coach Spurrier and didn't know they had a job opening to be honest with you. We got to talking and I realized it was him. I was fortunate it worked out and it was a great experience for me.

Stoops has been gone for a decade, yet his ties to Gator Nation remain strong.

BS: There's a bunch of guys that I've kept in touch with over the years. It's kind of ironic there are a bunch of former players like Alan Trammel that Coach Spurrier played with that I'm very good friends with and still keep in touch with. The one good thing is that one of us has to win.

Stoops talks about his decision not to return to Gainesville when the opportunity presented itself in January of 2002.

BS: I've said that I have great respect and appreciation for the Florida program and the people involved in it. At the time all that was happening I had a great loyalty and feeling for the people in our program too. They gave me an opportunity and I felt like I wanted to see it through. I have a great relationship with my President David Boren and my Athletic Director Joe Castiglione and I just felt like we're building something here that's special.

He was asked about the decision itself and whether it caused him an agonizing day.

BS: That's not fair to say to either program whether it was or not. In the end those are my feelings. As always I feel fortunate to be the head coach here at Oklahoma.

Oklahoma is even more fortunate to have Stoops. He's won seven conference championships in his 10 years and has the Sooners playing for the national title for the fourth time. You kind of get the feeling that this isn't the last time that Stoops and Urban Meyer will be on this stage.

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