sportsOklahoma Sooners

Ex-Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops discusses XFL, NIL, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

Stoops said on The Fan that he was fine not dealing with the current state of NIL and college football.

On Tuesday former University of Oklahoma head football coach Bob Stoops hopped on 105.3 The Fan to discuss the XFL, his tenure with the Sooners and the future of college football. Here are some of the highlights.

Interview has been edited for length and brevity.

Q: Can you explain how hard it is to replicate that type of success, when you have a championship season?

Stoops: “Yeah, it really is. I say that, but we went back in 2003 and (2004), just a few years later, so we went back and couldn’t get it done. That kind of just shows you. I thought we were going to do this all the time too until still we lost in (2003) and (2004). It is difficult, ya know? You look around and just here recently and Bama has made it look routine, but they are about the only one. Overall, it is really difficult to do it multiple times because we were close but couldn’t get it finished. But that 2000 year was really special to go undefeated and play as strong as we did down the stretch.”

Q: Now, you mention Alabama. You were back with Oklahoma for their bowl game this last year. what are your thoughts about Oklahoma eventually making their way to the SEC??

Stoops: “Listen, we’ve got a long track record against SEC teams overall and it’s pretty positive. We will be prepared for it and ready for it. I enjoyed coaching our guys for a month and they played a really strong game against Oregon there in the Alamo Bowl, so the neat part was how well they embraced me and they were really wonderful and great to work with that whole month. Anyway, OU will be a strong player in the SEC. I get it, we aren’t going to win it like we won the Big 12 for so many years, but we understand that. There are other great teams still at the top, and right now that is Alabama and Georgia both. Georgia is really strong, at least a year ago they were.

“But anyway, I think we fit well in that league and I believe we will do well in the league.”

Q: Coach Stoops, I played baseball and played at the major league level, and I know there is a difference between how you attack and pitch in college vs how you attack and pitch in the minor league vs how you attack and pitch in the major leagues. Can you tell us when you are putting together a system for OU vs XFL and the NFL level? How different are your schemes and plays, or is it not much difference between college and the pros?

Stoops: “I think the biggest difference is just your personnel, your players. Football is football, overall. Believe me, you see a lot of, in the last four or five years, NFL teams working a lot of college teams, right? Especially with a lot of quarterbacks and what not. So I think you play to your personnel with your schemes and you recruit, draft to your system. But ultimately, the players are what win and lose games. You’ve got to play to their strengths and it’s all about getting the right personnel, I think, at whatever level you are at.”

Q: When you are recruiting, whenever you are looking for guys for your XFL team, where do you start? What is the foundation of the Bob Stoops team build?

Stoops: “I think, as much as anything, you find those players who love football. They love to practice, they have a passion for it and it means a lot to them. Win or lose, how they play. It’s finding the right character guys with the right passion and love for the game.”

Q: When the XFL, like so many other things, ran into problems in 2020 when the pandemic hit, I know everyone was hopeful that it would come back, clearly an ownership change needed to take place for the league, but did you believe the league would be back in place at some point?

Stoops: “I believed and knew that it was going well. I think everybody was pleased with the fan attendance. The TV viewership was strong and good and improving. I didn’t know who might buy it, but I figured somebody would because of the beginning success it had. People were enjoying it and I think numbers bare that out when you look at fan attendance overall. I mean, the last game at St. Louis, they were over 50,000 going in. We averaged 17,000 right there in Arlington. So there’s a good market for it, so it doesn’t surprise me that it’s back and the reason I’m in it because of the confidence in our ownership. When you look at Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia. RedBIrd Capital is another. These guys are real players and this is a strong ownership group that loves football and they want to make it great. You look at the track record of all three, between DJ, Dany and Redbird Capital and they don’t lose. So we’ve got great confidence it’s going to move forward positively.

“We’ve got a strong ownership group that is going to push this forward in a positive way.”

Q: Have you had the chance to sit down with “The Rock” and do you call him The Rock or do you call him Dwayne?

Stoops: “We’ve talked, in fact we just got done with a big weekend in Dallas with everybody, all the head coaches. A lot of support staff around you and Dwayne and Dany were both there for the whole weekend, so it was great. But yeah, we talked and he’s a great guy to be around. When I refer to him out there, I say Dwayne or The Rock, but when we talked I’m at the point where all I say is “Dwyane.” Great guy to be around, as he appears. Really easy guy and a good, fun guy to be around.”

Q: Did it take you any time to get used to playing in the baseball stadium? I know you were talking about the attendance and everything, but for a lot of us it was kind of jarring when we saw it shifted into a football stadium.

Stoops: “Well I hadn’t been there much when it was a baseball stadium, so it didn’t have that affect on me. When I walked out there I saw a full, 120-yard field, the same dimensions I coached on forever. So, no it wasn’t much of an adjustment for me.”

Q: I’m kind of curious, Bob. With the way college football is rocking right now with NIL, do you kind of wish ‘ya know what, I kind of wish we had this NIL opportunity when I was doing my thing at OU?”

Stoops: “I’m all for the players and having an opportunity like this and some kind of financial support. I worry there are no parameters and no guard rails on it and so I don’t know if this is all sustainable, and what it is going to do in the next year or two for college football, which has been so successful and so good. And then you add in, now you can transfer whenever you want, twice a year, every other year, whatever you want. That’s basically free agency with NIL money without any parameters. Even in the NFL, they’ve got some guidelines, right? On free agency and salary caps. Well, right now we don’t have that in college football, so who knows where it is going?

“Do I wish I was dealing with it? No.”

Click or tap here to listen to the full interview here.

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