Five times Bob Stoops shaped Florida football
College football's offseason took a major jolt Wednesday afternoon when Oklahoma's Bob Stoops announced his retirement after 18 seasons.
Stoops' departure means only four head coaches have won national championships: Nick Saban, Jimbo Fisher, Dabo Swinney and Urban Meyer. Not a bad list.
A quick look at five times Stoops shaped football in the state of Florida (apologies in advance, Seminoles fans):
1. The Florida Gators' first national title. Stoops was the defensive coordinator on Steve Spurrier's 1996 team that won it all. Yes, the lasting memory of that team is the offense (and Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel), but Stoops' defense also scored a school-record six touchdowns.
2. The Gators' third national title. Stoops had a quite different role in this one. His Sooners had the most prolific offense in college football history...until scoring only two touchdowns in a 24-14 loss to UF in Miami in January 2009. Tim Tebow and the Gators secured their second national title in three seasons, while Stoops was denied his second championship as a head coach. Speaking of that...
3. Florida State falls. Bobby Bowden's Seminoles had a shot at back-to-back national titles but ran into Stoops' Sooners in Miami in January 2001. OU's 13-2 win (over an FSU team favored by 10 points) completed an undefeated season and deprived Bowden of a third championship. It was also the final year in FSU's remarkable run of 14 consecutive 10-win, top-five seasons.
4. Maybe this is (semi) recency bias and because it was one of the first games I covered for the Times, but the Sooners' 23-13 win in Tallahassee stands out. As I wrote then, it showed that then-No. 5 FSU wasn't quite ready for primetime. That ended up being right; the ‘Noles finished 9-4. In retrospect, it also shows FSU wasn't far from getting back on the national stage. The Seminoles won the ACC the next season and were national champions the year after that.
5. Recruiting Eric Striker. The former Armwood High star was one of the best players and personalities in college football during his time in Norman. Each time Striker was mentioned was an opportunity to bring attention to high school football in the Tampa Bay area. Stoops later gave Striker a chance to stay in the game as a defensive recruiting analyst.