As Big 12 Media Day begins Monday, it officially signals the beginning of the Lincoln Riley era.
FRISCO — This time a year ago, Bob Stoops was preparing to step to the podium at Big 12 Media Days for the 18th time.
At that point, there was absolutely no indication that Stoops wouldn’t be at Big 12 Media Days the following year.
The Oklahoman even wrote a story about his unlikely longevity at OU, especially in the early days when it seemed he would jump to Notre Dame or the NFL.
At the time the story ran, Stoops was the longest tenured head coach at the same program, beating out Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz by a single day, and he was just months away from passing Bud Wilkinson as the secondlongest tenured head coach in OU football history.
He was just four seasons shy of reaching Bennie Owen’s record 22 seasons as the Sooners’ head coach.
A reporter at last year’s media days even broached the subject of retirement with Stoops.
But the questions was quickly met it with a rebuff.
“You know, that’s something you would is ask a guy that’s maybe 65, but I’m only 55,” he said then. “So I don’t see … that being a question I need to answer. I would like to think I’m in really good health. I take care of myself. I can’t wait for this season, much like I couldn’t 17 years ago for my first one as a head coach.
“So hopefully I’m going another 10 years or so.”
His staying power, it seemed, would stretch distantly into the future.
“Sometimes guys have success and say, ‘Let me get a better job,’” Stoops said after the 2015 season. “I’ve felt all along that this is the better job. I guess I’d hoped that it would be a good run.”
But after 18 seasons, that good run ended with a surprise announcement on June 7.
Stoops won’t be present at the conference’s media blitz this week, and instead, it will be Lincoln Riley representing Oklahoma, attending a media day as a head coach for the first time.
But while the man fielding the questions will be brand new, it’s business as usual for the Sooners — just as Stoops intended.
“I didn’t want to miss the right opportunity to be able to step away and hand this baton off to Lincoln Riley and to help keep this all just going in a great direction,” Stoops said at his retirement press conference.
And indeed, everything appears to be moving in that great direction.
Though the man up top changed, the rest of the coaching staff has remained intact, and Riley added another high-caliber coach to the mix with the hire of former East Carolina head coach and Virginia defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill.
Along with adding a new coach, RIley also picked up eight new commitments since his promotion.
With Riley’s first conference media day nearly here, even more signs of imminent success are rolling in.
OU was picked by the media as the preseason favorite to win the Big 12 for the second consecutive season and fifth since 2011.
Five Sooners landed on the preseason All-Big 12 team — including Baker Mayfield’s nod as preseason offensive player of the year.
Numerous players on preseason watch lists.
Business as usual.
A year ago, Bob Stoops said he didn’t want to talk about retirement for 10 more years. But on Monday, Lincoln Riley will speak with the media as OU’s head coach at Big 12 media days.