NORMAN — We end our Stoops@10 series today by looking not back, but ahead. Will there be a need for a Stoops@20?
What is Bob Stoops' future? Will he remain the Oklahoma football coach another five, six, seven years, which would elevate Stoops to the longevity level of Barry Switzer and Bud Wilkinson? Will he be here another 10 years, by which time he would be an icon unlike any in Sooner lore?
Unanswerable questions, of course, because the only person who could possibly know probably doesn't know himself and wouldn't tell us if he did.
But clues abound, which point in all kinds of directions.
Earlier this year, Stoops told a small group of Tulsa boosters that the NFL might still be in his future.
Last month in Kansas City, he told Big 12 media that the NFL "is not something today that's real intriguing to me, with my children the age they are (9-year-old twin boys and a 12-year-old daughter). But life changes.”
Those are not conflicting statements. Stoops told it straight. Life does
But we can guess. If you had asked me five years ago, would Stoops be around in five years, I would have said no. I would have been wrong.
Ask me now if Stoops will be around five more years, I would say yes.
"Everything has its time,” Stoops said the other day in a rare lapse into introspection. "I've loved what I've done, what I'm doing.”
But sometimes, Stoops admitted, he thinks about wanting more time to himself. The best part of his job, he said, is being around the players. "The relationship with them. Helping develop them. The excitement of competing on Saturdays.”
The worst part of his job is time demands, from media and other requirements.
"It's necessary and important, but sometimes your time gets eaten up,” Stoops said. "It can be sometimes pretty consuming ... I notice it more with my kids starting to be older.
"You start thinking, well, maybe you want to have more of your time. I'm no different than anyone else. Hey, gets to be a certain time, maybe it's time to do something different.”
But life in Norman is good. Stoops and his family are not prisoners in their own home. He is able to live a semi-normal existence and is paid a handsome sum to compensate for those time constraints.
"Do I think he'll be always at OU?” asked school president David Boren. "I used to think he would maybe some day take one shot at the pros, late in his career, kind of climbing the Matterhorn.”
"I don't know now.