Oklahoma football: Bob Stoops’ days roughing it at Iowa
Bob Stoops makes $4.3 million a year. But it wasn’t always so. In the 1980s, Stoops spent five years as either a graduate assistant coach or a volunteer coach at Iowa, making little money. Sometimes, he relied on five-day loans from a Hawkeye assistant coach, just to get by.
“I theoretically worked for the foundation in those days,” Stoops said. “Doing a speaking engagement here and there, live in the football office.” Stoops spent his summers painting houses to make money. He says he never reached the point where he was tempted to go get a high school coaching job, just to get a beefier paycheck.
“Hadn’t reached that point,” Stoops said. “Fortunately, I painted maybe every assistant coach’s house there. I painted (Bill) Brazier’s, I painted (Dan) McCarney’s a couple of times, (Barry) Alvarez’s, Bernie Wyatt’s. I think they just had me paint their house every summer to give me a little bit of money. Kirk Ferentz’s, too.”
Brazier was Stoops’ defensive coordinator when he played safety for the Hawkeyes. McCarney became head coach at Iowa State and North Texas. Alvarez became a coaching legend at Wisconsin. Ferentz is in his 14th year as head coach at Iowa. Wyatt, you’ll learn a little bit more about soon.
“Truthfully, my parents wondered if I was ever going to get a full-time job,” Stoops said. “But they never had to give me much because I earned enough in the summer to make it through. It was like you’re on scholarship. You just had to be smart about your finances.”
Well, Stoops admits he mostly made it through. There were some tough patches.
“I can remember, at the end of almost every other month, our d-end coach, Bernie Wyatt, I’d get down to those last five days, no more money,” Stoops said. “He’d slip a hundred out of his wallet, soon as I got my check five days later, I’d pay him back. He’d laugh every couple of weeks. I’d be there, ‘Coach, I ran short this month. He’d give me a hundred, I’d give it back to him on Monday. Bernie Wyatt. He was the best.”
Is it easier on graduate assistants these days? “No, they don’t know how to paint,” Stoops said. “I grew up, since I was able to climb on a ladder, painting. I don’t remember a summer when that wasn’t what I was doing, earning money.”
Of course, graduate assistants today work for a head coach who can slip them a $100 bill and not care if it’s repaid. A guy making $28,000 would miss $100. A guy making millions wouldn’t.
Stoops wasn’t married at the time. “I had just gotten engaged just before I got the full-time job (at Kent State in 1988), or right at the same time,” he said. “So I kind of waited. I figured I’d want to be able to support my wife before I got married. I wasn’t that brave, like some people.”
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