The Oklahoma Sooners won the Sugar Bowl in incredible fashion last night behind an impeccable performance from redshirt freshman quarterback Trevor Knight, who showed the improvisational skills of Johnny Manziel and was throwing lasers all over the place. Bob Stoops did an incredible job of leading his team to victory over Nick Saban and the favored Alabama Crimson Tide, and it appears that the NFL is calling again for Stoops. The long-time Oklahoma head coach has resisted plenty of overtures from the pros in the past, but it’s possible that the college football legend, whose name is synonymous with Norman’s recent successes, decides that it’s time to make the jump. The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported earlier this week that Stoops is “open” to the NFL, and it looks like one team is receptive.
ESPN’s Tony Softli reports that Stoops “may have the inside track” to the Cleveland Browns head coaching position. While this report has come out of the blue (Stoops hasn’t been linked to the Browns before, let alone any specific NFL team), it shouldn’t be ignored. First of all, Softli is a former front office man and is still well-connected in league circles. Secondly, the Browns have shown a high amount of interest in college football coaches, and it’s becoming clear that they are very interested in going that route. Not only did they go hard after Chip Kelly last offseason before ultimately losing out to him, but they also have high interest in Gus Malzahn and James Franklin. Although New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who will interview with the Browns tomorrow, remains the favorite, CBS Sports’s Jason La Canfora reported earlier this week that Malzahn, McDaniels, and Franklin are the top three choices for the Browns.
But the Browns are looking into loads of potential head coaching candidates, as there are a laundry list of names that have been linked to the Browns. It’s a surprise to hear that Stoops has emerged as a top candidate, but it isn’t surprising either. The timing of the report also increases the chance of it coming to fruition, because it is possible that Stoops and everyone else did their best to bottle up any news so that Oklahoma would be 100% focused for the Sugar Bowl. Of course, a source had no problem leaking to La Canfora that Malzahn, who is coaching a team in the national championship, is a top candidate for the Browns job.
Ultimately I expect Stoops to remain in Norman, but watch closely for any further news regarding interest from the Browns.