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Why Bob Stoops, Not Nick Saban, Was the Best Coach of the BCS Era

Stoops' (center) success in the BCS era has been unmatched.
Stoops' (center) success in the BCS era has been unmatched.Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Sebastian LenaAnalyst IJanuary 2, 2014

Forget Big Game Bob, there’s a more fitting moniker for Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops: Mr. BCS.

As most of the college football world gladly prepares to bid good riddance to the Bowl Championship Series following Monday’s tilt between Auburn and Florida State, the game’s passing will have far more significance to Stoops.

The BCS was first introduced in 1998. The following year, a fresh-faced, 38-year-old Stoops was announced as the new head coach of the Oklahoma football program.

But while his peers struggled to adapt to the changes, the Youngstown, Ohio, native thrived.

In just his second season at the helm, Stoops led his Sooners to a 13-0 record and the BCS title. By the completion of year six, he had made four BCS appearances and played in three national championships.

Fast-forward to Thursday night, and Stoops will be playing in his ninth BCS bowl when Oklahoma takes on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl. 

That puts him at the top of the class when compared to other coaches during the BCS era:

Coaches With the Most BCS Bowl Appearances
NameAppearancesBCS W-LOverall BCS Era W-L
1. Bob Stoops93-5*159-39 (80.3%)
2. Jim Tressel85-3106-22 (82.8%)
3. Nick Saban75-1*142-38 (78.8%)
4. Pete Carroll76-197-19 (83.6%)
5. Bobby Bowden61-5108-46 (70.1%)
6. Frank Beamer51-4156-53 (74.6%)
7. Urban Meyer54-0*128-24 (84.2%)
Sports-reference.com

*Still has a bowl to play in 2014


Haters will be quick to point out that Stoops has been anything but Big Game Bob in those first eight appearances, compiling a 3-5 record. But those same people forget to mention that no other coach has won more games than Stoops since the inception of the BCS.

As far as consistency goes, there hasn’t been anyone better.

Since 2000, Stoops has posted a 152-34 record, finished with 12 10-win seasons, won eight Big 12 titles and has seven bowl game victories to his credit.

Year in and year out, he has helped Oklahoma remain relevant. Even in the darkest of seasons, Stoops has always found a way to pick out the silver lining.

Take the 2005 season, for example. The Sooners had just lost Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jason White along with many other key contributors, including 11 players who were taken in the 2005 NFL Draft.

Behind inconsistent play from freshman quarterback Rhett Bomar, Oklahoma struggled to a 7-4 regular-season record. However, the team still managed to upset a 10-1, No. 6-ranked Oregon team in the 2005 Holiday Bowl, 17-14.

This season has been no different, as Stoops and the Sooners were tasked with trying to replace the school’s all-time passing leader, Landry Jones.

Through 12 games, the team hasn’t had much luck finding a successor, rotating as many as three quarterbacks. In fact, with the Sugar Bowl just hours away, Oklahoma still doesn't know who its starting quarterback is.

Yet somehow, someway, Stoops has still managed to carve out another 10-win season and once again has the Sooners playing in a BCS bowl.

Ironically, on Thursday night, he’ll be going head-to-head with the only other man who can contend that he is more deserving of the honor of being the BCS era’s most successful coach: Nick Saban.

In seven seasons at Tuscaloosa, Saban has led the Tide to a ridiculous 74-14 record. He has won three of the last four BCS titles and appeared in five BCS bowl games since 2009. 

While all of that is nice, let’s not forget that Saban only managed to put together two 10-win seasons and two BCS bowl appearances from 1998-2007.

Altogether, his overall resume is hardly enough to be considered the BCS’ all-time best.

Not to mention, with a win on Thursday, Stoops will become the first head coach to win each of the four BCS bowls—Orange, Fiesta, Rose and Sugar. In comparison, Saban has only won the Sugar.

You can call Stoops a fluke, a choke artist or a beneficiary of good luck. Heck, some have even grown fond of “Big Game Boob”.

But hate him or love him, the best adjective to describe Stoops during the BCS era is a simple two-syllable word that is synonymous with some of the best to ever walk the sidelines in college football history.

Winner.


All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of CFBstats.com.

For complete coverage and everything college football, you can reach Sebastian on Facebook, on Twitter and via email at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com.

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