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Saturday, December 26, 2009
Will Stoops be able to say 'no' to Florida?

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Bob Stoops
Coaching at Florida could be a special opportunity for Oklahoma's Bob Stoops.
An indicator of how strong a pull Florida still has on Bob Stoops and his family could be seen earlier this week.

The Stoops family packed up for their condominium to spend Christmas at Crescent Beach, Fla., not too far away from the beach house owned by Steve Spurrier, his old boss at Florida.

Stoops still loves the Florida lifestyle and found virtually any excuse to return there -- even during the salad days of his Oklahoma run through the Big 12.

So now with the Florida job open, it will be interesting if Stoops can turn down an offer to return to the place he first built his coaching reputation. Stoops was the respected defensive coordinator under Spurrier for three seasons before he was hired at Oklahoma in December 1998.

He's still known as "Bobby" by Gator fans, but is respected for the job he did in leading the Gators to the national championship in 1996.

Stoops has had other opportunities over the years. Notre Dame made a big push earlier this season after other schools and professional teams came calling. Stoops was in the mix when Florida hired Ron Zook and Urban Meyer earlier this decade.

You don't hear him called "Big Game Bob" as much around the Big 12 as before -- particularly after his 7-5 record this year. It was his worst regular season mark in his 11 years with the Sooners. But Stoops remains one of the seminal figures in the conference's growth after claiming a record six Big 12 titles.

He enjoys a relationship with Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione and school president David Boren that might be unrivaled for a college coach anywhere.

And it appears he is already itching for the challenge of bouncing back after this season's disappointment. Stoops has already arranged for the Sooners to have the Seattle-based Pacific Institute help rebuild his team's psyche next season like it did with Alabama this year.

But Florida clearly would be a special opportunity. He is familiar with recruiting throughout the sunshine state and it would give Stoops a chance to claim a program that is only a season removed from back-to-back national championships.

Would that be enough of a pull to get Stoops to leave Oklahoma after he's turned down so many other jobs over the years?

We'll have to see over the next several days.