HOOVER, Ala. — Count Mark Stoops among the rest of the college football universe who saw Bob Stoops’ retirement from Oklahoma as a shock.
Mark was asked at SEC Media Days about his big brother’s decision to call it quits after 18 years in Norman.
“You saw mixed emotions on his retirement and it certainly shocked me as much as it shocked anybody,” Mark said.
Mark, who is entering his fifth season at Kentucky, acknowledged that Bob’s longevity at one place likely wore him down.
“When you think about it, he’s been at one place for 18-and-a-half years and that’s very difficult to do, especially at a place like Oklahoma where the expectations are what they are,” Mark said. “He won a national championship in Year 2, won 10 Big 12 championships or whatever it is. That’s very difficult to do. You may look at his age and say, man, he’s awfully young to retire, but you try doing that for 18 years.”
Mark said the moment Bob called to tell him the news was one he’ll never forget. The Kentucky coach walked out of his office and around the practice field.
“And that’s where I had that conversation with him away from everybody,” Mark said. “So, I was shocked. Mixed emotions, I guess you would say from myself. Very proud of him, what he’s done, and very happy for him and Carol and his family, to be able to step away when he wants, how he wants. And that’s Bob.”
Former offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley has taken over at Oklahoma — a program Bob maintained as a perennial power. Mark inherited a much different program at Kentucky but guided the Wildcats to a bowl game last season for the first time since 2010.
“I think it was very important for him to walk away with a good football team with a chance to win his league and get in the playoffs and hand off a program that he took so much pride in building,” Mark said. “So, I have mixed emotions about it still, but proud of him and hope the very best for him.”