Urban Meyer Stepping Down: Florida Will Call Bob Stoops First
In January of 2001, the stars aligned but the timing wasn't right.
Bob Stoops had just won a BCS title with Oklahoma, in the state of Florida, over Gators' rival Florida State.
Meanwhile, Steve Spurrier was stepping down in Gainesville.
Young, energetic, with ties to the university, and newly-proven as a major college football head coach; Florida had every reason to want Stoops.
As Spurrier's defensive coordinator, his Gators were among college football's best units. Stoops held opponents to fewer than 14 points on 21 occasions across three seasons. In 1996 and 1997, his defenses were scoring nearly as often as the Florida offense. And as a result, Oklahoma came calling with its head coaching vacancy.
Two years later, Stoops was a national champion and the keys to the Florida Ferrari were his for the taking.
However, two years was simply too soon. Stoops' loyalty restrained him, as did OU's outstanding athletic director Joe Castiglione.
Now, another elite AD has an unexpected coaching search on his hands. Expect Florida's Jeremy Foley to get his man the second time around.
Unlike in 2001, the stars clearly aren't aligned. Urban Meyer's resignation citing health concerns is completely unexpected and comes very late in the college football and recruiting seasons.
Meanwhile, Stoops' reputation as "Big Game Bob" has been tarnished by a string of post-season struggles, having lost five straight BCS bowls. His Sooners suffered five regular season loses for the first time in his tenure and face a serious rebuilding process in 2010.
But despite the less natural circumstances, perhaps now the timing is right.
Stoops' Sooners are undeniably still among college football's elite. They gave Meyer's Gators a serious run for their money in Miami a year ago in the 2008-09 BCS Championship. And the Swamp faithful remember the late '90s well.
Meyer stepping down gives Stoops the second chance at Florida he probably never thought he'd have before Saturday night's announcement.
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