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Former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops addressed Lincoln Riley’s abrupt departure from the university while being honored on Tuesday for his service to the state by the Oklahoma legislature.
After Riley shockingly left for USC after the Sooners’ loss to Oklahoma State in the regular-season finale, Stoops came out of retirement after five years to lead the Sooners in the Alamo Bowl. The day Riley opted to leave, Oklahoma called Stoops to come and speak to the team.
“I see the panic in our players’ face. I hear the panic in the whole OU community. I had to remind everybody immediately: ‘Look, time out here, Lincoln Riley did not invent OU football,'” Stoops said to scattered applause from the Oklahoma House of Representatives. “And everyone needed a little wakeup call because they kind of slipped into thinking he did.”
Stoops then pointed to legendary ex-Sooners coach Bud Wilkinson as the one who created the “monster” in the modern era, which was carried on by Barry Switzer and later himself. Oklahoma has won four national championships in the past 50 years, including one by Stoops in 2000.
Riley, however, had a monstrous string of success in five seasons at the helm. His 55-10 record ranks as the top winning percentage by any OU coach. The Sooners won four conference championships in the five seasons with three appearances in the College Football Playoff and top 10 finishes in each of his seasons after being promoted from offensive coordinator.
Oklahoma hired former Stoops assistant Brent Venables to replace Riley when the latter departed for USC after the season.
Stoops was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2021 after leading the Sooners to a 191-48 record in 18 seasons, including 10 Big 12 championships and the 2000 national championship.
The Oklahoma House passed HCR 1020 by unanimous consent to honor Stoops for his service, specifically noting his stepping up when called upon for the Alamo Bowl.
“I’m the fortunate one to have been able to be at Oklahoma for all those years,” Stoops said. “Fortunately, they’ve kept me on for a while so I can step in for moments like this.
“Hopefully, we don’t have any more.”