Stoops To Stay Put

Monday, January 7th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Ending days of speculation that he might want to coach for Florida, Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops said Monday he has decided to stay put.

He said he told Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley Monday that he will stay at Oklahoma.

``Jeremy knew coming in, I felt strongly committed to our program, how strong and positive our program was, the way we're developing and where we're going with our program,'' Stoops said.

Stoops said he did not renegotiate his contract with Oklahoma, and a report that he would get a raise to continue coaching for the Sooners was incorrect.

Speculation that Stoops might be interested in coaching at Florida began shortly after Friday's announcement that Steve Spurrier was resigning as coach of the Florida Gators.

Stoops met briefly at his home Monday morning with Foley.

``I'm out here just to talk to Bobby and go from there,'' he said. He declined comment after returning to the airport about 90 minutes later for a flight that reportedly was headed for Colorado.

Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan is considered another top candidate for the job. Shanahan said Sunday he would talk to Florida about the vacancy only if he were contacted by Foley, a close friend.

Stoops, 41, served as Florida's defensive coordinator under Spurrier from 1996 to 1998 before becoming head coach at Oklahoma.

The Sooners won the 2000 national championship and were in the hunt again this year before winding up 11-2. They are 31-7 under Stoops after not cracking the .500 mark in the five years before he arrived.

A contract extension approved last summer made him a $2 million man. Only Spurrier, at $2.1 million, was making more among college coaches.

Stoops has a condominium in Crescent Beach, Fla., where he visits in the late spring and early summer.