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Bob Stoops: No question NIL makes coaching more challenging; ‘There’s no rules’

Bob Stoops
Photo credit: AP Photo

Former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops built up a legendary resume during his 18 years in Norman, but believes current college coaches have it even harder in the new NIL-dominated world of college athletics.

Stoops, head coach of the Arlington Renegades of the XFL, weighed in on NIL and other topics during an appearance on the GBag Nation on 105.3 The Fan last week.

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“Well, I don’t think there’s any question (it does),” Stoops said, when asked if NIL makes coaching in college more challenging. “It’s a constant battle now. People recruiting your players. There’s no rules. It’s like the NFL without any salary cap or any particular guidelines.

“So, sure, it’s made it more challenging and I still think there’s a place for players who want the overall college experience and it’s better at one place than another,” Stoops continued. “If you’re only concerned with money then some places aren’t for you, and that’s okay. There’s plenty of good players out there and finding the right ones that fit your program, I think is still the important thing. But it’s definitely made it more challenging.”

It’s not the first time the Hall of Fame coach has spoken out on NIL. Asked in January about some of the features that now dominate college football, from NIL to the Transfer Portal, Stoops said he wants “nothing to do with any of that.”

“I love coaching the XFL Arlington Renegades,” Stoops said during a Q&A while receiving the Paul “Bear” Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award last month. “We’ve got great ownership. It’s been incredibly fun.”

Stoops, 62, retired from college coaching in 2017, well before NIL deals were cleared by the NCAA, after posting a 190-48 (.978) record in 18 years as the Sooners head coach. He was named Big 12 Coach of the Year on six occasions, won the Big 12 10 times and led the Sooners to the 2000 BCS National Championship.

Stoops returned to Oklahoma as interim coach for one game in 2021, taking over for Lincoln Riley, who had left to take the USC coaching job prior to the Sooners’ Alamo Bowl game. Oklahoma defeated Oregon, 47-32, in that matchup.

While seemingly uninterested in returning to the new world of college football, Stoops helmed Oklahoma at a time when the Sooners were punished for NCAA violations that today likely wouldn’t be an issue.

Oklahoma dismissed quarterback Rhett Bomar and lineman J.D. Quinn in 2006 for allegedly receiving up to $18,000 for work not performed for a Norman-based auto dealership. Both players lost one year of eligibility, and were forced to pay restitution money by the NCAA.

In 2008, the NCAA overturned its decision to erase eight wins from the Sooners’ 2005 season.

In comparison, former Sooner and Heisman winner Caleb Williams, now at USC, already has several NIL deals that could be worth seven figures.

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After a break from coaching following his retirement from the college game, Stoops became the head coach and general manager of the Dallas Renegades of the XFL in 2019.

The league filed for bankruptcy in 2021. Stoops again signed with the XFL last April, rejoining the team now branded as the Arlington Renegades.

Stoops appears to have retired from the college game for good, but two other members of the coaching family continue to find success. Stoops’ younger brother, Mark Stoops, is the head coach at Kentucky and the university’s winningest coach in program history. Mike Stoops, another brother, also serves on the staff as linebackers coach.