NORMAN — Former Oklahoma Panhandle State coach Rick Haasl has wanted to thank Bob Stoops for years.
I interviewed Haasl recently for this story on new OU offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh, who worked in 1995 at OPSU under Haasl.
Haasl said that in 1999, he was defensive coordinator at Southeastern Oklahoma State in Durant. That spring — Stoops’ first as OU’s head coach — Haasl and the SOSU coaching staff visited OU for its coaches’ clinic.
Here is Haasl’s recollection of his first meeting with Stoops:
“I don’t have any contact with coach Stoops; he wouldn’t know me if I walked in his office. But I respect that man so much.
“As a coaching staff at Southeastern, we were going to the OU clinic.
“We were country boys in the city trying to find out where to register. We’re walking around the stadium trying to see where we’re supposed to go. We’re lost down some long hallway, and about 50 yards in front of us, a door opens in front of us and that guy starts walking the same way. They kinda turn around and look at us, and stop and they wait for us to get up to them. It’s coach Stoops.
“He was all sweaty, I guess he was on a treadmill or something. He took us, and he walked us — we were way off — but he walked us where we needed to register, talked to us like he knew us his whole life.
“The next day, they had a scrimmage, and he came over on the sideline, recognized our faces, and came over shook our hands. He made some kind joke about, ‘You guys finding everything OK?’
“I was so excited to hear that Bill’s going to OU because I’m such a big Sooners fan. I choose my teams by who the head coach is.
“He’s such a humble man. It’s those little things that people do that are so impressionable.”