Oklahoma president David Boren’s statement today during the Bob Stoops retirement press conference:
“Well indeed it has been a momentous day, and we welcome all of you to this press conference. It’s a very bittersweet moment for me when we realize that we are announcing that our head coach is stepping down, Bob Stoops, who has served us so well for so long. For Joe Castiglione and myself, this marks, along with working with Bob, 18 years together, which is the longest period of time that a head coach and an athletics director and a president have worked together in the entire country of a major program at this time. So it’s very hard to see it transition into a new beginning and then into a new era.
“I’ve tried to think so many times what words I would use to sum up how we feel at the University of Oklahoma at this moment. I suppose the word deep appreciation comes to mind. We feel deep appreciation for all that coach Stoops has done. He has had a lasting and important impact on the football program at the University of Oklahoma, and indeed on university community writ large.
“Everyone realizes that he took a football program that was struggling and he brought it back to national prominence with the highest possible standards. We all know about his record, we can see around us—in fact, we are seated in the new stadium, recently expanded and improved—it’s again a testimony to the success of coach Stoops and his program. We wouldn’t have these kinds of facilities, we have an outstanding recruiting class, there’s so many things to be said about what he’s contributed to the University of Oklahoma and to its present and to its future.
“We’re going to be talking about his era for many years to come.
“But I want to express appreciation for him not as a coach, we all know his record, but as a person. Bob Stoops is a truly remarkable person. He’s a person who stands up for what he believes in. He sets the highest possible standards. His reputation for personal integrity is so strong, that in a recent poll taken nationally of other college football coaches across the country, when polled and asked, ‘If you were to have a son that you wanted to be coached by and play under another college coach in America, who would it be?’ Bob Stoops, going away, was named more often by his colleagues and his peers than any other coach in America. This really demonstrates the kind of respect he has. His own integrity is the reason that all of us share that deep, deep respect for him and appreciation for him. We’re all proud that we’ve shared friendships with him, and we’re all proud that he is part of the University of Oklahoma family—such a special part of that family.
“So today, even as we think about that period of transition, we are really filled with appreciation for all that he has done, and we wish him and his family all the best in the future.
“I am very happy about the fact that he has indicated his desire to stay in this community and stay and be a part of this university family to continue to serve in our athletics department as a special assistant to our athletics director, to provide help and advice when asked by our new head coach.
“You have to think about another thing, and you have to analyze this: very few people pick the time as coach Stoops has picked, for their departure from a prominent position. Very few people make that decision about when it is time to go. And I would say that I’ve never seen it made with greater unselfishness and greater concern not for himself mainly, but for the good of the institution and the strength of this program.
“He has decided to hand on this program to new leadership at a time when it’s never been stronger. The facilities you see around you, you think about the recruiting class, the prospects for next year, the record that we’ve established, that he has established—what a generous thing to choose that moment, based upon when it will be most beneficial to the program in the future and when it will continue to only increase in strength. It’s a very unselfish act. When we look all across the country and we observe others in similar positions, I would have to say it’s almost unique for a person to make that decision for himself and to make it with such generosity for the institution of which he has been a part (of)—and such an important part for 18 years.
“So I wanted to express on this occasion the deep appreciation but also the deep admiration that all of us in this university community family have for coach Stoops and his family—some of them are here with us today. We wish you well, coach Stoops. You could not have a greater group of fans who will be—and continue to be enhanced by your friendship in years to come and your continued participation here.
“So today is a day of, I say, it’s a bittersweet day because we have such mixed emotions. But above all, it’s a day of celebration of you, Bob as a great — I’ve said it, and I try to be absolutely objective about this — I think the most outstanding college football coach in America. I said that back at the time and I predicted that you would be when you first came here. I had every confidence.
“And you based your decision also on something else as we talked the last couple of days, and that is you wanted to leave when you felt there was a well-placed successor, someone who was ready to take on the job of being the head football coach. You wanted to leave when you felt you could hand on the baton of leadership to someone very special, and I think we all understand today—we celebrate not only you, but we celebrate the fact that you’ve found that person.
“When I think of Lincoln Riley, and I observe him in action, I can only, in many ways, have memories of Bob Stoops at the same age and same position in his career. I see so many similarities.
“So, we thank you for having in mind that you wanted to hand off this responsibility to someone in whom you have confidence, someone who has the talent and the personal integrity, because it takes both to fill this position. So we could not be happier about our new head football coach who will be announced today, Lincoln Riley. He is a person that shares our values and shares our philosophies, and I think he will be an incredible fit at the University of Oklahoma.
“So I make the same prediction that I made when Bob Stoops came here, that we’re getting ready to start another era of greatness for the University of Oklahoma, and we thank you, Bob, for making a decision at a time that allows that passing of the torch to occur to someone in whom you have confidence and someone in whom the entire university community has confidence.
“So there are simply no other words, except the words ‘thank you.’ And they are so inadequate. Thank you Bob Stoops for being the person you are. Thank you for being the kind of leader that you are for this program. We owe you a debt of gratitude that we can never repay. And we want to say those two simple words from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for a job exceptionally well done.”