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Bob Stoops Steps Down: Now What For Oklahoma?

Lincoln Riley now leads the way in Norman.

Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops dropped a bomb on college football yesterday by abruptly announcing his retirement.

He said he would go out on his own terms, and he did. In fact, it caught everyone by surprise when the time came. Word on the street is that Stoops has been batting this around for a little while. Unless you’ve got some sort of major epiphany, this doesn’t just happen.

Bob Stoops is a guy who has taken some heat, as all big-time coaches not named Nick Saban do. After all, he won his only national championship way back in 2000. Most head coaches in FBS would love to get one, and he did. Whatever they said of him, he never had a losing season in Norman. Stoops won nine bowl games and finished in the top ten 11 times in his tenure.

You don’t just replace a coach that successful. Where does Sooners football go from here?

Can Lincoln Riley Fill The Bob Stoops Void?

Lincoln Riley got something at age 33 that plenty of coaches never get: a primo coaching gig. It’s not just that he’s now the head guy of an FBS program, but an elite one. Time will tell if he’s up to the task.

Summer training camp opens in a month or two. The system and coaches that Bob Stoops put into place are still there. So are the players, including Baker Mayfield. 2017 will probably not be a major departure from their prior season. Serious College Football Playoff contention isn’t likely, but 8-10 wins are. Like it or not, this is still Bob Stoops’ team at Oklahoma, even if he’s not there.

Where Lincoln Riley will start differentiating himself is at the end of this year, and going into next year. One season will be enough time to see, even on a perfunctory basis, how Riley handles adversity. By next year, with recruiting, coaching changes, and game planning, he’ll begin putting his stamp on the program.

Riley, the offensive coordinator for two years, takes over as a blank slate who had only been an assistant. Stoops was hired by Oklahoma in his 30s, and it was his first and only head coaching job. This is not to say Riley will win a national championship and have perpetual top-ten teams. It at least suggests there’s hope. At this point, it’s too soon to say he’ll be a failure. Such is life for the guy replacing a legend.

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