Why "it all seemed to fit" when the XFL courted former Sooners' coach Bob Stoops

Photo courtesy of USA Today
Clark Judge

(EDITOR’S NOTE: To access the Bob Stoops interview, fast-forward to 24:57 of the above attachment)

When Bob Stoops retired two years ago as the University of Oklahoma’s winningest football coach, he had no interest in returning to the game. Or, at least, that’s what he said.

And that’s what he did. Until now.

Because now Stoops, 58, will be back on the sidelines as coach and general manager of the XFL’s Dallas franchise.

He was named to that position in February by league commissioner and CEO Oliver Luck, and he joined the Talk of Fame Network’s latest broadcast to explain why the XFL appealed to him when, as he put it, “I wasn’t looking to do something else.”

Maybe not. But the XFL was looking for him.

And, in the end, it made him an offer he couldn’t refuse … which is a story in itself. Because Stoops, who was 190-48 at OU, with 10 Big-12 championships and one national championship, had rebuffed the NFL more than once when it made overtures while he was at Norman.

So why now? And why a pro league that plays in the spring and that failed once before? That's going to require some explaining, and Stoops was more than willing to oblige.

“Initially I had some inquiries from other people and to my agent about the XFL,” he told the Talk of Fame Network, “and initially I said, ‘I’m not interested.’ And then when Oliver Luck called me and we got to talking more and more about it, my wife and I sat down and started thinking about it a little bit more.

“And the fact that I got my entire summer and fall (off) … I can watch my son and OU play in the fall … the worst months of the year to golf are February, March and April out in this area of the country … I thought, ‘You know what? This is a 10-game schedule, (and) the proximity to Dallas works for my family, my kids and my wife to travel back and forth … to be down there part time. It all seemed to fit.' ”

This is the second try for the XFL, a spring league that folded after one season in 2001. It won’t begin play until 2020, and, as Stoops mentioned, it will be a 10-game schedule -- with the Dallas franchise playing in a reconfigured Globe Life Park, in its last season as home to the major-league baseball Texas Rangers.

But it was more than geography and spring scheduling that appealed to Stoops.

“I believe In Oliver Luck, who’s a really serious guy that’s been an accomplished guy and (in XFL founder) Vince McMahon,” he said. “And you can’t deny his accomplishments and his success. I knew they wanted to play real and good football, which mattered to me. I wasn’t going to get in something that wasn’t really good football.

“So the more I kept thinking about it with Oliver, I called him back after a few days, and I said, ‘You know what? This fits me. For this period of time it eats up a pocket of the year that I think will work really well for my family and I at this point in my life.’ “

As most people familiar with the first XFL realize, the league won't be a reproduction of the football we see on Saturdays and Sundays. There are a myriad of experimental rules changes, including no extra points, no fair catches on punts and a 30-second play clock.

"Truthfully," said Stoops, "there are no rule changes that are in stone yet. So nothing has been fully decided.

"But for the most part, it's still going to be football as you see on Saturdays and Sundays … with some modifications maybe for overtime (and) some modifications for an extra point. The main part of the football, though, is still going to be what you're used to watching."

Follow on Twitter @ClarkJudgeTOF

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