Bob Stoops wont be rooting for his brother Saturday when South Carolina and Kentucky meet in Williams-Brice Stadium.
Thats how much Steve Spurrier means to Oklahomas longtime football coach. Stoops younger brother Mark is in his first year at Kentucky and could get a program-catapulting win today against the No. 13 Gamecocks. Still, the man who hired Bob Stoops at Florida in 1996 means too much to him to pull against the Gamecocks.
I wont root as much as anything, Bob Stoops told The State this week. Of course your brother, its really hard, but Coach (Spurrier) and Jerri (Spurrier) and their whole family I am really close with.
Spurrier hired Stoops away from Kansas State, where Stoops was co-defensive coordinator, the season after losing 62-24 to Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl, and the Gators went 32-5 the next three seasons. In 1999, Stoops was hired by Oklahoma. He won a national title the next season and has been there since.
Hes an appreciative guy, Spurrier said when asked why he and Stoops remain so close. Hes appreciative that he got a chance to be a head coach at Oklahoma after three years as an assistant (at Florida).
Spurrier calls Bob Stoops Bobby or Stoopsie and the two talk often in a business in which Spurrier says its tough to retain many close friends. Both men say they are similar, but neither can, or will, say how.
I dont know how to explain that, Stoops said. Its just we are.
He and I have a lot in common, Spurrier said. He plays a little golf. I play a little. We have just remained good friends.
They are so close that Stoops bought a condominium in Crescent Beach, Fla., where the Spurriers have a home, and the families often spend time together.
My wife and Jerri and me with Jerri and Coach, we just all have been great, great friends ever since our time there coaching, Bob Stoops said. Really, very much in a lot of ways like family, like extended family.
The Spurriers and Stoops, and Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, spent a week vacationing and golfing in Ireland this summer.
This will be the first meeting between a team led by a Spurrier and a team led by a Stoops. The Gamecocks played Florida State in the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl when Mark Stoops was the Seminoles defensive coordinator. The Gamecocks lost that day 26-17 despite outgaining the Seminoles 414 yards to 308 yards.
I always love seeing coach Spurrier, Mark Stoops said. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. Anytime you play an offensive mind like coach Spurrier, you have to change things up. Hes just very good, great play caller, and they have great balance in their offense right now. Itll be a real challenge, but itll be exciting.
Mark Stoops and Spurrier have spent time together at Crescent Beach and visited during the week leading up to the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Hes a good guy, really good guy and good coach, Spurrier said. Its a tough job there at Kentucky, especially right now, but they supposedly have one of the best recruiting classes going into next year, so maybe they are heading in the right direction.
Mark Stoops has picked up at least some football from Spurrier through his brother. Bob Stoops learned plenty about coaching defense from the offensive-minded Spurrier, Bob Stoops said.
Being smart and being aggressive and as much as anything knowing what you are asking players to do and then take away the strengths of what the offense wants to do, Bob Stoops said.
None of that will factor in Saturdays outcome, though, Bob Stoops said. And neither will his loyalty to family or friends.
It makes it really hard, he said. Ill just stay out of it.