Stoops Will Stay Coach of Oklahoma; Florida Turns Attention to Shanahan

NORMAN, Okla.?Bob Stoops decided to stay put at Oklahoma, ending speculation that he would leave to coach Florida.

Stoops met with Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley on Monday and told him of his decision.

“Jeremy knew coming in, I felt strongly committed to our program, how strong and positive our program was, the way we’re developing and where we’re going with our program,” Stoops said.

Stoops said he did not renegotiate his contract with Oklahoma, and denied a report that he would get a raise to continue coaching for the Sooners.

Speculation that Stoops might be interested in coaching at Florida began shortly after Friday’s announcement that Steve Spurrier was resigning as coach of the Florida Gators.

Stoops served as Florida’s defensive coordinator under Spurrier from 1996 to 1998 before becoming head coach at Oklahoma.

Stoops met briefly at his home Monday morning with Foley.

“I’m out here just to talk to Bobby and go from there,” Foley said. He declined comment after returning to the airport about 90 minutes later for a flight to Colorado, where he met with Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan.

Shanahan said Sunday he would talk to Florida about the vacancy only if he were contacted by Foley, a close friend.

Oklahoma won the 2000 national championship and was in the hunt again this year before winding up 11-2. The Sooners are 31-7 under Stoops after not cracking the .500 mark in the five years before he arrived.

A contract extension approved last summer made him a $2 million man. Only Spurrier, at $2.1 million, was making more among college coaches.

Stoops has a condominium in Crescent Beach, Fla., where he visits in the late spring and early summer.

GAINESVILLE, Fla.?While Steve Spurrier said goodbye to his Florida family Monday, the Gators’ top choice to replace Spurrier turned them down.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops told Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley that he decided to remain with the Sooners.

“Jeremy knew coming in, I felt strongly committed to our program, how strong and positive our program was, the way we’re developing and where we’re going with our program,” Stoops said.

Foley then left for Colorado, where he met with Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, now the leading contender for the Florida job.

“Obviously, there is nothing certain,” Foley said. “I’m out here to visit Mike, but that’s all it is right now.”

Shanahan, a good friend of Foley’s and long considered one of his favorite coaches, said Sunday he would be willing to talk about the opening, although he said he has not been contacted.

“We always teased each other that if the job were open, he’d talk to me,” Shanahan said. “Obviously, he’s a friend of mine and I would talk to him about it. I’m very happy here. I’ve got a contract and I intend on keeping that contract, but that doesn’t mean I won’t sit down and talk with Jeremy.”

Shanahan’s contract pays about $4 million a year and he would almost certainly take a pay cut. He has a new house in Denver, and his reputation is still strong, even though the Broncos have had three straight disappointing seasons on the heels of two straight Super Bowl titles.

Asked about the search Sunday, Foley refused comment. He is essentially a one-man search committee in charge of replacing Spurrier, the man who took Florida from decades of mediocrity to one of the top, and most entertaining, programs in the country over his 12 seasons.

Spurrier scheduled his resignation to give the Gators a chance to fill the opening before the dead period for recruiting ends Saturday. Foley would like to have somebody in place by then.

“To all the recruits out there that are considering the University of Florida, I ask that you have faith in us that we’ll find a quality football coach that will take this on and build upon what coach Spurrier has already built,” Foley said Friday at his news conference.

Still, in the past, when asked about the coaching search he’d have to conduct someday, Foley always said that he would rather take too long and risk losing a few players than to hire the wrong person.

The Florida job is one of the very few that could lure Shanahan away from Denver. He was offensive coordinator there from 1980 to ’83, when Charley Pell coached the Gators. At the time, Foley was working his way up the ladder in the athletics department, and the two became good friends.

“We’re very close to a number of people there in the university,” Shanahan said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Jeremy. That’s the only reason that I would really sit down and talk to him. That does not mean I’m headed off to be a Florida Gator.”