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Saturday, January 3, 2009
Stoops makes wise choice to diffuse NFL speculation


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

MIAMI SHORES, Fla. -- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops tried to diffuse any controversy linking him with the Denver Broncos job by taking some unusual steps.

Stoops originally was not slated to meet with the media before deciding late Friday that he would meet with them after the Sooners' practice Saturday at Barry University. He had to know that questions about the vacant NFL job would be asked  -- and they did, barely three minutes into the press conference. 

But by firmly discounting any stories of interest for the job, Stoops has done what he could to extinguish any controversy through the BCS title game on Thursday night.

It will be interesting to see how quickly the Broncos move on the job. If they do not hire somebody by the time the Oklahoma game is over Thurday night against Florida, look for Stoops' name to heat up again.

But at this point in his career, it would be hard to think that Stoops would be interested in coaching in the NFL -- despite his previous association with Denver owner Patrick Bowlen, an Oklahoma graduate as an undergrad and from law school.

The Broncos are one of the model franchises in the NFL. Bowlen isn't considered a meddling owner. He's fired only three coaches in his 24-season tenure as owner and cried when he let Mike Shanahan go last week.

But Stoops might have a better job with the Sooners. He's close with athletic director Joe Castiglione and school president David Boren and is assuredly bigger than the Oklahoma program. It wouldn't be that way in Denver.  

Stoops has maintained that the NFL could interest him one day and I think it would. But I think he would like to see his three children complete high school before taking the challenge.

And additionally, he's pretty well compensated at Oklahoma, which has to be considered one of the top 10 college jobs in the country. He will collect $6 million in 2008, thanks to cashing in a $3 million bonus for finishing 10 years on his job.

I don't think the Sooners were going to be distracted by talk about him and the Broncos.

But Stoops took steps to assure his team it didn't become a problem -- just to make sure.