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Stoops staying at Oklahoma

Jan. 7, 2002 at 8:28 PM   |   Comments

GAINESVILLE, Fla., Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Shortly after former Florida coach Steve Spurrier publicly announced his intentions to land a coaching job in the NFL by next season, Bob Stoops, his former assistant, said he planned on remaining as coach of Oklahoma.

Stoops has been mentioned as the leading candidate at Florida after Spurrier surprisingly announced his resignation on Friday.

The 41-year-old Stoops served as defensive coordinator at Florida for three seasons under Spurrier before taking over at Oklahoma in 1999.

"In the end I felt too committed to what we're doing here at Oklahoma," Stoops said. "That's what's important to me."

Stoops said he met Monday with Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, who wanted to find out if Stoops had any interest in the vacancy. Stoops said that he never discussed contract terms with Foley nor did he discuss a contract extension with Oklahoma.

Stoops, who just completed his third season at Oklahoma, led the Sooners to a national title in 2000.

In a press conference held earlier on Monday, Spurrier said he did not steer Stoops to Gainesville.

"I'm not big on recommendations," Spurrier said. "I told him you should do what you feel is best."

Spurrier is at the center of coaching rumors himself, and proclaimed he was interested in landing an NFL job for the 2002 season.

"I'm intrigued to see if my style of coaching can be effective in the NFL," the pass-happy Spurrier said. "I need to find that out. I hope to get that opportunity real soon."

Spurrier said he would not limit his NFL choices to a team from Florida, indicating he could be candidate for the vacancies with the Carolina Panthers or Minnesota Vikings.

George Seifert was fired as coach of the Panthers on Monday while Dennis Green was forced out as coach of the Vikings last week.

There also is speculation the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also will make a coaching change if they lose in the wild card round to the Philadelphia Eagles. Spurrier came close to becoming coach of the Buccaneers in 1996 before Dungy was hired.

Spurrier reiterated that he was not burned out at Florida, but was looking for a new opportunity.

"You have to be smart enough to say, 'this is it we had a good run,'" Spurrier said. "Toward the end of the year it started hitting me this would be as good a year as any to say goodbye."

Spurrier, known as an offensive genius, said he had no desire to handle personnel issues early in his NFL career.

"I'm not going to be a salary cap guy," said Spurrier, the 1966 Heisman Trophy winner. "I think they got other people to do the math."

Florida won the national championship in 1996, six Southeastern Conference titles and as many as 10 games nine times in Spurrier's 12 years at the school. Before Spurrier arrived, the Gators had never won an SEC title or 10 games in a season.

There has been speculation that Spurrier might balk at the long hours associated with being an NFL coach, but noted that being a good coach involves using the time wisely.

"(New Orleans Saints coach Jim) Haslett is coming in at 4:30 a.m., It's not doing him a lot of good," Spurrier said. "There are all kinds of ways to get a job done."

The Gators were 10-2 this past season, but lost a chance to play for the national championship when they fell to Tennessee in their regular-season finale on December 1. Florida capped its season with a 56-23 trouncing of Maryland in the Orange Bowl on Wednesday.

Spurrier's departure might result in several star players leaving school.

Quarterback Rex Grossman, who was benched from the start of the Orange Bowl, had planned on returning, but now is not so sure.

"I'm not ready to leave but it may be best decision for me in the end," said Grossman, the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy.

Wide receivers Jabar Gaffney, Reche Caldwell and Taylor Jacobs and cornerback Lito Sheppard are other Gator underclassmen who have yet to announce their intentions.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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