We haven't heard much from Bob Stoops in the four years -- wow, it's really been that long -- since he walked away from Oklahoma. He's still present around the program, especially since he's now a Sooner football dad. But he generally keeps his mouth shut for issues regarding his former program, like the time his successor fired his brother in 2018.
But OU's impending departure has inspired the former head Sooner to speak up. Writing in The Oklahoman, Stoops responded to criticism from Oklahoma State president Dr. Kayse Shrum that the Sooners' Big 12 exit is bad for the state.
Reasoning that what's good for the goose is good for the gander, Stoops wrote that what's good for the University of Oklahoma is good for the State of Oklahoma. (The state's nickname, after all, is the Sooner State.) Beyond that, Stoops wrote that SEC membership is necessary for preserving OU's place in college football.
Let’s set the record straight: OU’s move to the SEC is what’s best for Oklahoma. The reality is that conferences are now more important than ever and, with limited spots, the strongest conferences would not accept OU if we were to require OSU to join as well. By joining the SEC, we ensure the state’s flagship university will be represented nationally while protecting our rich football history for many years to come. To move forward in any other manner would be to the detriment of OU and the state of Oklahoma.
The advantages are many — greater financial opportunities, better exposure, stronger recruiting and increased competition. Playing in front of full, huge stadiums will be attractive to our players, recruits, and our supportive fans. OU will be competing at the highest level of college football, which is exactly where we should be. I can’t wait for SEC programs to face our teams and our fans — I think both are the best in the country.
For Stoops to heap that level of praise on the SEC considering he hated the SEC during his days in a visor. He went 6-3 against SEC opponents (not including his 19-4 combined record against Texas A&M and Missouri), and most of those games were big ones. He beat Arkansas in a Cotton Bowl and both Iron Bowl rivals in the Sugar Bowl, but lost BCS title games to LSU and Florida.
Asked in 2013 about the supposed gap between the Big 12 and the SEC in 2013, Stoops said this, "Well, it depends on what gap you're talking about. What are the bottom six doing?"
He took a shot at SEC defenses that same year when informed of Georgia QB Aaron Murray's success. “How’s that happening? They’re playing all those SEC defenses.”
When his win over Alabama in that season's Sugar Bowl was discounted because the Tide supposedly didn't care, Stoops said, "They didn't look like it was a consolation game on that first drive when they scored a touchdown and everyone thought they were going to rout us. I've been in plenty of those [non-national title games]. We've played in a bunch of national championship games, right?"
After his team came from behind to beat No. 23 Tennessee in double overtime at Neyland Stadium, Stoops clapped back at Paul Finebaum, who'd called Oklahoma irrelevant earlier that year.
So for Stoops to say what he's saying about the SEC today represents a major turn.
With this move, OU is taking control of its own destiny. And all Oklahomans — no matter who they root for — can trust that when the state’s flagship university makes a decision, it always puts Oklahoma’s interests first.
Moving forward — BOOMER SOONER!
The irony here is a move this good for his former employer is a really, really bad one for his current employer. In March he took the job as Urban Meyer's replacement in Fox's main college football studio, where Oklahoma games are a centerpiece of the Big Noon Kickoff window. Those games could be gone as soon as next season, when OU moves to the soon-to-be-exclusive-with-ESPN SEC.