Bob Stoops became the head football coach for the University of Oklahoma Sooners in 1999 when his daughter Mackenzie was just two and wife Carol was pregnant with their twin sons. In the 14 years since, Stoops has earned a reputation for being a family man, strong leader and community supporter, solidifying his spot in OU’s rich and storied football legacy. Heading into his 15th season, Stoops is on pace to attain an historic milestone in 2013, being only nine wins away from surpassing legendary coach Barry Switzer for the most victories in Sooner football history.
Stoops has led the Sooners to 14 consecutive bowl berths and eight Big 12 titles, as well as winning 17 coach of the year awards—an accomplishment that only five coaches across the nation have topped. A proven leader, Stoops reached 100 victories faster than any coach in college football history and is preparing to enter his 30th professional year in coaching.
Growing up as the son of a coach himself, Stoops is familiar with the joys and obstacles of blending a high-profile coaching position with everyday family life. “I remember one time that I was coming back from recruiting, probably six or seven years ago, and I had been gone all week,” he recollects. “I had left my house keys at home, so I knocked on the door. My son Isaac was just five years old then, and he answers the door and yells back ‘Hey, everybody, Bob Stoops is here!’ I think that was the age where they figured out what I do for a living. It was funny to see my two personas combined—that of Bob Stoops, the coach, and Dad.”
Here is more on how the Ohio-native balances the demands of coaching—and parenting—in the spotlight.
How do you balance the demands of being head coach at OU with being a father of three?
Like everybody, you do what you feel is comfortable. You concentrate on what you feel like you need to do at different times, different weeks, different days. You do the best you can and spend quality time when you are able.
What are the benefits and challenges of parenting in the public spotlight?
On occasion, we have to have patience with photos and autographs, but it really doesn’t happen all that much. We really go about our family life and our business like everybody does. I don’t feel like we are local celebrities at all.
What did you learn from your father that has impacted how you parent your kids?
I lost my dad when he was only 54. I learned from his example to allow your children to be part of whatever you are doing. I grew up with a father who was a coach, teacher and baseball player. I was allowed and invited to go wherever he was going. If he was playing baseball, I was the batboy. If he was coaching football, I was in locker room and on the field. I spent my Saturday mornings in gym while he was refereeing. All my coaching staff knows my children and their kids are welcome to be part of what they are doing on any given day. It helps our children to feel connected to what we do as well.
Do you find that you sometimes have to use fathering skills in your coaching—and use your coaching skills in your parenting? How are being a coach and a dad similar or different?
There are lots of similarities. I see [my players] almost every day. I want to be that type of role model for my players and speak to them in a way that they know I care about them. I want to be a person that both my players and children can look up to and trust. As a parent, I am always trying to motivate and inspire my kids, so I find myself turning into a coach at home, too.
What’s the best advice you ever received about being a dad?
My wife said it best. Her mom told her that children at different ages can be challenging. But, no matter what the situation or what difficulties may come, love your kids no matter what. If you don’t, someone else will—and you don’t want the wrong person influencing them. Love them unconditionally, even in the trying times as they are growing. Be there for them and just love them.
How has fatherhood changed you? How has having twins affected your perspective on parenting?
I’ve become accustomed to sacrifices that come with parenting, it is just part of it. I have to give credit about raising the twins to my wife, Carol. She is with them daily and has had to work her way through all that, especially since I am away often. But I can say there is nothing like having two at the exact same age. One parent with two kids of the same age—it’s tough to play man-to-man defense when there are two kids. But, it’s a blessing, too.
What do you like best about Oklahoma? How do you feel about your kids growing up here?
I like the overall values of the state—the principles of hard work, good people and integrity. It’s just a great place for kids to grow up and to be involved in the community. It’s a wholesome atmosphere, where people are used to working for what they get.
When your children are adults, what do you want them to say about you?
That I was there for them, to help build them up and love them unconditionally.
If you could only give your children one piece of advice as they grow, what would it be?
I would advise them to carry humility to everything they do. I want them to know that nothing comes easily, that you have to work for everything you get. Enjoy the struggle and have great faith. It will take you a long way in life.
What’s the best part about being a dad?
Just being able to participate in my children’s life. There’s nothing like family and that family bond. I love being able to enjoy that and to be part of their lives every day.
Quick Facts About Coach Stoops:
- What are 3 words that describe you? Humble, respectful and intense.
- What’s your favorite indulgence? Vanilla ice cream.
- What’s your favorite getaway? I love to take my wife to Chicago, her favorite city.
- What’s your favorite TV show? Seinfeld or Modern Family.
- Coffee or tea? Coffee.
Read more about Coach Stoops at www.bobstoops.com.
Brooke Barnett is the Assistant Editor of MetroFamily Magazine.