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OU officials look to reassure fans in news conference reintroducing Stoops as head coach

Interim head coach Bob Stoops speaks at a news conference Monday.
OU Athletics
Interim head coach Bob Stoops speaks at a news conference Monday. Stoops, who resigned in 2017 after 18 seasons, agreed to come back to lead the Sooners through the rest of the season.

OU officials held a news conference Monday afternoon introducing interim head football coach Bob Stoops and answering questions about Lincoln Riley’s sudden departure for another college coaching job.

Stoops led the Sooners to their last national championship in 2000 and resigned in 2017 after 18 seasons with the team. He agreed to be interim coach after Riley announced Sunday he was going to the University of Southern California.

Stoops said he’s already had several meetings with players, parents, OU officials and boosters, and he plans to go recruiting.

"Listen, when I arrived here Dec. 1, 1998, there was something to be concerned about, a lot to be concerned about: four straight years without a winning record, no bowl games," Stoops said. "Two years later, we were 13–0 and won the national championship. This place is in a hell of a lot better shape than it was Dec. 1, 1998."

Stoops joined Fox Sports this year and said he will join his fellow college football broadcasters there for the Big 10 championship on Saturday because OU does not have a conflict.

Athletic Director Joe Castiglione said while rumors were flying about Riley possibly leaving the Sooners for LSU, USC didn’t come up until late Sunday morning, when Riley told him he was talking to them about becoming the Trojans’ coach.

"I have absolutely no reason to believe based on the conversations that I had with them, ongoing, that there were any conversations prior to the time he informed us," Castiglione said.

Castiglione said before Sunday, he’d discussed the future with Riley several times, and he was on board with Oklahoma’s pending big-money move to the SEC.

"We were talking about the resources and the process and things that we were going to want to have in place as we move toward the transition, whenever that occurs," Castiglione said.

Castiglione, Stoops and OU President Joseph Harroz assured fans candidates are already lining up to be permanent head coach.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.