Mike Stoops, in his first public comments since his Sunday (Oct. 8, 2018) firing as Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator, took full responsibility for the team’s struggles.
On Wednesday (Oct. 11, 2018) afternoon, Stoops was a guest on The Monsters of the Midday Show on WWLS The Sports Animal. The show is hosted by former OU player Dusty Dvoracek.
“I think everything kind of came to a head Saturday,” Stoops said, pointing to the Sooners’ 48-45 loss to Texas in Dallas. “Our inability to play a level of football that Oklahoma should expect. And ultimately that fell on me. That was tremendously hard. I have so much respect for this program, all the players that have played in it, for Lincoln (Riley), the administration and just didn’t get it done.”
Stoops said he understood how “tremendously hard” it was for the OU head coach. Then he nailed down the timeline that led to his departure.
“(After the Texas loss) I told him how sorry I was and we hugged each other, walked out of the locker room. We went and said we would talk on Sunday,” Stoops said. “We talked Sunday morning for about a half-hour. Talked about some of the issues, what happened, why so-and-so, we left each other, talked about the future, what’s gonna be best for our program. We talked about five, six hours later and came to this conclusion.”
Stoops had two different tours as defensive coordinator, in 1999-2003 (which included a national championship season) and 2012-18.
“There’s just so many different factors that lead to all of that and just for whatever reason we just haven’t been able to find consistency and just too many bad games throughout the course of this second stint. I wish I could put my finger on it,” Stoops said.
A few hours later, Stoops was back on WWLS to take aim at host Jim Traber, who had reported Monday that a physical confrontation between the coach and OU linebacker Curtis Bolton led to Bolton walking out of Cotton Bowl Stadium and onto the Texas State Fairgrounds during halftime Saturday.
Stoops denied that happened on Dvoracek’s show, then sparred with Traber during an afternoon call.
“I told you two days ago what the truth was,” a heated Stoops said. “I heard you were going to stick to your source.”
Traber: “That’s right. I’m sticking to my story. That’s exactly correct.”
Stoops: “You’re telling me my truth is not true? How else could you look at that if you were me?”
Traber: “If I were you, I would look at it that I don’t care what Jim Traber says. That’s what I would do.”
Stoops: “But it’s attacking my character, Jim.”
Stoops then added he was just trying to get the truth out. Traber said, “You said what the truth is.”
Stoops: “But you don’t believe my truth?”
Traber: “I do not believe that that is the truth.”
Earlier in the day, Stoops called the story “ludicrous,” and said he didn’t say one word to Bolton at halftime and didn’t even know he’d left the locker room.
Stoops often has talked about the challenge of Big 12 offenses and mentioned that again Wednesday. Dvoracek joked if he coached again, it should not be in the Big 12. Stoops laughed and said it took five years off his life.
“Each game, it would be nerve-racking — you ask any defensive coordinator and if they are honest with you about going up against any of these teams — you are kind of sitting on edge, knowing that some of your flaws can be exposed at any time, and certainly a lot of ours were exposed,” Stoops said.
Stoops saw teams attacking weaknesses beginning in the Iowa State game, and it carried over to the next three games.
“People started seeing things and people have you on tape and understand your strengths and your weaknesses,” Stoops said. “It was just too much to overcome, ultimately.”
What’s next for the 56-year-old coach?
Stoops mentioned when he was dismissed as Arizona’s head coach in 2011, he jumped right into his new role as OU’s defensive coordinator, going right into another high-profile situation that can take a toll.
“I just want to rest, get healthy. It’s been a great strain on all of us, my whole family. I think everybody here. Just want to rest, heal, reflect and see where it takes me. I really don’t know,” Stoops said. “I would say I’m in the same situation Bob (Stoops) is in. I don’t know. I could see myself doing a lot of different things. I could see myself trying to be an understudy to somebody — a Nick Saban, a Kirby Smart, somebody of that magnitude and trying to rethink, relearn, reteach.
“I could see myself, you know, I don’t know (about) going back into the fire, coaching defense right now. I don’t know. I have to see where my gut takes me, whether media, any of that is something I’d enjoy doing.”
As for his relationship with Riley, he said they “will always be friends. It was a great three-and-a-half years together,” Stoops said. “He couldn’t have been kinder to me.”