Before his “Salute to Stoops” celebration in April 2018, legendary Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops was asked if he had interest in writing a book.
“I’m thinking about it,” Stoops said before his statue revelation on the eve of the OU spring football game. “Possibly. We’ll see. I don’t know if there’s a market out there for it or not. So we’ll see.”
The Tulsa World received an advance proof of “No Excuses: The Making of a Head Coach” this week. The 294-page book was written by Stoops and ESPN reporter Gene Wojciechowski. It has an official release date of Sept. 10 and is published by Little, Brown and Company.
Wojciechowski was at the “Salute to Stoops” event. He shared a story about a conversation that he had with Stoops two nights after he accepted the OU job.
“I said, ‘Bad program, bad facilities, bad everything,’” Wojciechowski told the crowd at the Bennett Event Center at Oklahoma City’s State Fair Park. “All he kept saying was, ‘No excuses.’”
Two decades later, it became the title of Stoops’ book, which is reflective on his life growing up in Youngstown, Ohio. He discusses the tragic loss of his father and his journey to becoming OU’s head coach after assistant stops at Kent State, Kansas State and Florida.
As expected, much of the book focuses on his 18-year career at OU.
Stoops writes in detail about his decision in choosing OU over Iowa for his first head-coaching job. He discusses the early challenges of immediately turning OU’s culture around.
There is an intriguing section after the 2000 national championship season about how much he weighed head-coach vacancies at Ohio State and with the Cleveland Browns. He also spoke about how extremely close he was to taking the Florida job following the 2001 season.
Stoops, very protective of his personal life while OU’s coach, also dedicated pages to a scary moment before the 2001 season. He spoke about his then-5-year-old daughter Mackenzie’s surgery on the base of her brain.
OU’s winningest coach also analyzes the tough losses, including the 2004 setback to USC and the defeat against Boise State two seasons later.
He touches upon controversial topics, including Joe Mixon’s much-publicized altercation with an OU female student and Rhett Bomar’s dismissal for receiving pay for work not performed. Stoops explained the importance of solidarity following a Sigma Alpha Epsilon racism incident in 2015.
There are “what-if” moments for OU fans on some pages, including Stoops lamenting not signing Michael Crabtree and Oklahoma City’s Wes Welker.
Stoops wrote about how difficult it was to fire Josh Heupel, the ex-Sooners quarterback-turned-offensive coordinator who fueled the team’s renaissance in 1999. He also discussed how Lincoln Riley reached out to him before dismissing Mike Stoops as defensive coordinator and likened the decision to the Heupel situation.
Perhaps the most emotional chapter is Stoops discussing the courage of patients at the Children’s Hospital at OU Medicine. Stoops never publicized his Thursday visits to patients and said he would play games with the children, take pictures, laugh and, sometimes, cry with them.