NORMAN — Carol Stoops went back to her hometown of Cresco, Iowa, recently to visit family.
During her stay in the tiny town less than 10 minutes south of the Minnesota state line, she made time to visit the house she grew up in. The house where she had birthday parties and sleepovers and holidays. The house where her parents lived for 56 years.
Stoops got a little weepy standing there in the front yard.
They were happy tears, not just for her good fortune but for that of her three children.
“Boy, our kids are lucky to have an upbringing like I did, to be in the same place the whole way through high school,” she said. “My memories aren’t all over the country. They’re in my little town.
“Our kids’ will be here.”
Here in Norman.
On the day that Oklahomans ring in the start of the college football season, Stoops’ husband, Bob, will begin his 16th season as Oklahoma’s football coach. He will also coach his 200th game for the Sooners.
It’s a significant milestone. Only three other active major-college football coaches — Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer, Troy’s Larry Blakeney and Kansas State’s Bill Snyder — have coached more games at one school. And if Stoops stays through 2020 and the end of his current contract, he’ll approach the 300-game plateau only reached by six coaches, legends like Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden and Tom Osborne.
In a nomadic profession, Stoops’ stability is a rarity.
“I agree with you — it isn’t easy in today’s world,” Stoops said earlier this week when I asked about it. “A lot of people want change because they always feel the grass is greener on the other side.”
Schools often feel that way.
So do coaches.
But Stoops has stayed, even as attractive and wealthy suitors have come calling, and OU decision makers have never wavered in their support of him.
“I consider myself fortunate, lucky, blessed to be at a place like this for so long,” Stoops said. “My family has been raised in one place, which doesn’t happen much in my profession.”
That is likely something that few outside of the coaching profession think about. It’s rarely considered. It’s underrated.