OU came closest to losing Stoops not to the University of Florida in 2002, but to the Cleveland Browns in 2001. Some close to Stoops thought he was gone when the Browns, 75 miles from hometown Youngstown, came calling. But a meeting with Boren convinced Stoops to stay, with Boren emphasizing the impact on the school and the state Stoops could make, and a year later, during another meeting with Boren after Florida came calling, Stoops told his president this wouldn't become an annual affair. It hasn't. Steve Spurrier, Stoops' friend and mentor, had a turbulent two-year run coaching the NFL's Washington Redskins, "Spurrier's experience with the Redskins made it less attractive” to Stoops, Boren said. "Hopefully, he's here for quite a while.” Stoops said the NFL "has been very volatile lately. I don't know that it always will be. "Everything has its time. Everybody wants to know, what are you going to be doing in 10 years? I'm a young guy. I'm only 47. "Life changes. Situations change. People you work with change. That's too long down the road. I'm too young to have everyone set what I want to do.” Ah, another clue. The people Stoops works with have not changed, at least above him. The two men who hired him, Boren and athletic director Joe Castiglione, remain in those same jobs, 10 years later. "Highly unusual,” Boren said. "Joe and I and Bob have been there together. It has been absolutely seamless.” Maybe we're asking the wrong guy. Maybe the key to Stoops' time at OU is Boren. In Stoops' contract is a clause that pays him a $3 million bonus if he stays on the job through the 2008 season; but under the contract, Stoops could have resigned after the 2006 or 2007 season and still collected the bonus had Boren left office. How long will the 67-year-old president stay on the job? "I plan to be here a long time,” Boren said. "This is a life's calling.” Is OU football a life's calling for Stoops? No. But he's now been in Norman 10 years, which is as long as he was at Iowa, his alma mater, and as long as he was at Kansas State and Florida combined. Will there be a Stoops@20? I don't know. But I didn't think there would be a Stoops@10.
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No one knows for sure what the future holds for Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. But that won't stop people from guessing. By NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN archive