Bye-bye Bobby

As Big 12 Me­dia Day be­gins Mon­day, it of­fi­cially sig­nals the be­gin­ning of the Lin­coln Ri­ley era.

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - SPORTS -

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.

[PHOTO BY STEVE SISNEY/THE OK­LA­HOMAN]

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.

Brooke Pryor bpryor@ ok­la­homan.com

OU FOOT­BALL

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