Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione moved quickly after the firing of John Blake in 1998, needing just nine days to identify Bob Stoops as his top target and put him on the steps of Evans Hall for an introduction as the Sooners' 21st coach. A look at those days:
•Saturday, Nov. 21:
The Sooners beat Texas Tech 20-17 to finish 5-6 with a modest two-game winning streak, but a special regents meeting is called for Sunday to determine John Blake's fate as coach.
•Sunday, Nov. 22:
The regents meeting pounds home the importance of the OU football position to Castiglione — on the job all of five months himself — as local television and radio crews broadcast the proceedings to a statewide audience. During a roll call vote, Blake is ousted 4-2. Already, Castiglione is working on a successor. "That night, after I left that room, I put together my game plan for the next morning and I was beginning to reach out, confidentially, sometimes through others, to find out if there would be interest.”
•Monday, Nov. 23:
Castiglione immediately goes to work considering candidates. He produces two lists: A and 1A. Stoops is the lone assistant to make the A list.
•Tuesday, Nov. 24:
Working the phones, Castiglione talks to several candidates and sets up a Wednesday interview with Stoops in Dallas.
•Wednesday, Nov. 25:
Castiglione and Stoops talk for six hours in the Admiral's Club at DFW International Airport. Already, Castiglione senses Stoops may be the man. After the meeting, Castiglione heads to Kansas City, where he'll have Thanksgiving dinner the next day with his family, who have yet to join him in Norman. He dines at a deserted Houston's restaurant with a friend, yet reports still get back to Oklahoma City that he's interviewing an "unknown” candidate.
•Thursday, Nov. 26:
After dinner, Castiglione returns to his temporary residence in Norman and flips on the TV. "I remember turning on the late news, trying to find out what was going on in Oklahoma. Well, I had been gone. Here comes this breaking story, ‘We've figured out where Joe Castiglione has been.' They break out one of these maps of the United States like they do for the weather patterns, and they have these dots, criss-crossing the country. I'd have to have the Concord to be all the places they would have me be. It was kind of humorous.”
•Friday, Nov. 27:
Back to work in the search. The to-do list: Define or eliminate possibilities.
•Saturday, Nov. 28:
The search goes on, but momentum builds, with a second interview with Stoops planned for Sunday in Dallas, this time with OU president David Boren and others involved.
•Sunday, Nov. 29:
The interview goes splendidly — "They're blown away,” Joe C. said — and the group agrees it has found its man. An offer is made and they talk deal specifics. Then Stoops puts negotiations on pause when he reveals that he has a meeting with officials from his alma mater, the Iowa Hawkeyes, the next day. Still, those in the group — six total — feel confident, if uneasy, and return for Norman, only to have stormy weather divert them to a small airport in Shawnee. One of Boren's assistants, who lives nearby, is called to retrieve them. A long day becomes longer with a cramped drive in torrential rain.
•Monday, Nov. 30:
After hours of waiting nervously, Stoops calls to tell Castiglione he is indeed their man. Arrangements are made for a press conference in Norman.
•Tuesday, Dec. 1:
Amid crimson balloons and the OU pep band blaring "Boomer Sooner,” Stoops is introduced as OU's 21st coach.
By John Helsley