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Oklahoma football: Bob Stoops could've been Notre Dame's coach, but he has stayed loyal to Sooners

Bob Stoops seems like a good fit for Notre Dame — grew up in a Catholic home, was coached by a Notre Dame graduate. But he has stayed at Oklahoma, and school officials have supplied him with an environment that keeps him content.
by Berry Tramel Published: October 26, 2012

NORMAN — Bob Stoops says he grew up in a home with no strong college football allegiance.

“I don't ever recall … my household ever rooting really hard for anybody in particular,” Stoops said.

Switzerland, huh? The old house on Detroit Avenue a bastion of neutrality?

We call a rebuttal witness. A primary source. Little brother Mike Stoops.

“It was fun growing up a Notre Dame fan,” Mike Stoops said. “We liked Michigan, too. Notre Dame and Michigan.”

Mass at St. Dominic's and the Notre Dame playback show were the Sunday morning staples in the Stoops homestead.

“That was really the highlight of the week,” Mike Stoops said.

So Saturday night on Owen Field, why is Bob Stoops coaching the Sooners and not the Fighting Irish? Why did Stoops not yield to the siren song of Notre Dame?

Why did a guy who grew up in a Catholic home, attended a Catholic school (Cardinal Mooney) and was coached by a Notre Dame grad (Don Bucci), spurn the Fighting Irish at least twice and maybe thrice? Why did Stoops decline the offer to follow in the footsteps of Rockne and Leahy and Parseghian?

Stoops' lips are sealed. He doesn't kiss and tell. But OU sources admit that at least twice Notre Dame has come after Stoops, and why wouldn't the Irish have courted the most natural of fits all three times?

Notre Dame fired Bob Davie in 2001, when Stoops was finishing off a two-year run of 24-2 and a national title.

Notre Dame fired Tyrone Willingham in 2004, when Stoops was finishing off a two-year run of 25-3, with back-to-back Big Bowl appearances.

Notre Dame fired Charlie Weis in 2009, when Stoops was completing his 11th season at OU, with a record of 117-29 and six Big 12 titles.

But Stoops was not enticed. Truth is, OU insiders say the Cleveland Browns and the University of Florida came closest to swiping Stoops from Soonerville.

Stoops acknowledged he's had other “suitors” but says he's stayed because his bosses, President David Boren and athletic director Joe Castiglione, have built up a trust and always have delivered to his program the opportunity to succeed.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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