NORMAN- Today Lincoln Riley dropped another tidbit to add to the list of “things only happening because 2020”- Bob Stoops has returned to help coach the Oklahoma Sooners.
The COVID-19 outbreak which forced the Sooners to shut down football activities last week left no aspect of the program untouched, from players to coaches and even the support staff.
“We have one branch of our support staff that’s been pretty much wiped out, we had to bring in some outside help,” Riley said during his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “You’ve got to have backup plans in case those things happen.”
One of those contingencies included Stoops stepping back into an on field coaching role for the Sooners.
If any coaches have to be removed from team activities, the program can replace them with an analyst or quality control coach.
Oklahoma however is in a unique position with the program’s winningest coach.
Since his retirement from college football, Stoops has served as a special assistant to Athletic Director Joe Castiglione. The role designates Stoops as an institutional staff member, allowing him to step into an on-field coaching role if an assistant on the staff is going to miss time.
“It’s nice. I mean it’s been kind of in our hip pocket his whole time,” Riley said. “We’ve got a Hall of Famer sitting on the bench, so that’s a pretty good bench when you can call that up.”
If he is needed on Saturday, Stoops will be no stranger to the sidelines in Norman. In his 18 seasons in charge of the Sooners, Stoops posted a record of 190-48, as well as winning 10 Big 12 championships and a national title.
Though Stoops handed the keys to the program over to Riley in 2017, he remains a fixture in Riley’s life.
“We still talk often, there’s very few weeks when we don’t talk,” Riley said.
“He’s certainly one of the few people in my life that I know regardless of what it is that I can go to and get really well thought out and honest, great advice.”
Junior safety Delarrin Turner-Yell said he enjoyed seeing Stoops at practice.
“This is my first time being able to play for him,” Turner-Yell said. “Anytime you have a guy like that you know that can come back to the program… with the things that he’s done in the past is always a great thing.”
Turner-Yell said he hadn’t had much interaction with Stoops before this week other than a short conversation here or there.
“[Stoops] is a guy that’s a legend around here, has done a lot for this program.”
While at this point in the week it is uncertain if Stoops will be needed on the field come Saturday, the team is enjoying his presence while it is necessary.
“It was awesome. Our kids were excited to see him,” Riley said. “I think he had some fun as well.”