NORMAN, Okla. — It was a surreal scene.
Bob Stoops standing at a dais, but with no crimson or cream near him. Just a cluster of three-letter logos no one ever thought they’d associate with his name — especially after June 2017.
That was when Stoops said he wanted to have his own time, which is partly why he retired as Oklahoma football coach back then. He gave little indication he’d ever coach again.
Almost two years later, he said had maybe a little too much time.
Stoops was formally introduced as the XFL’s Dallas franchise general manager and head coach Thursday in Arlington. He will be back in football, part of an eight-team league under the World Wrestling Entertainment umbrella that hopes to begin playing games in February 2020.
During a press conference at Globe Life Park — where his new team will compete — Stoops said he was interested in starting something from the ground floor, which he'll get the chance to do alongside XFL commissioner Oliver Luck. Stoops was the league's first head coach to be announced.
He says the process reminds of him of building a coaching staff after OU hired him in 1998.
"It's been 20 years and three months since I was last named a head coach. So I'm not real used to this," Stoops said.
A year ago, wrestling mogul Vince McMahon announced a "re-imagined XFL.” In November, the cities involved — Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, Washington D.C. — were announced.
The league rose and fell after one season in 2001. Luck said Thursday he wants to make the new XFL’s brand of football “innovative and distinctive.” The ideas and theories being incubated over the past year are already being put to test through official research.
“The feedback we got from coaches and players was simply awesome,” said Luck, who anticipates a rulebook being finalized by late summer.
Stoops is a coup for the league. He was one of the most well-known college football coaches during his time, a perennial candidate for major jobs at other universities or the professional level.
He brought OU’s program out of disrepair and became its winningest coach, going 190-48 over 18 seasons, which included the 2000 national title.
Stoops remains entrenched in Norman, having served as special assistant to the athletic director. He was visible at practices and games and his son, Drake, will be a redshirt freshman for the Sooners this fall. He has two other children in school at OU, son Isaac and daughter Mackenzie.
Norman's close proximity to Dallas and the league's schedule — it will run from February to around April — gives Stoops a coaching opportunity without major disruption to his life or the college football season he’s still attached to at home.
"As everyone knows I still have an attachment to the [OU] football program, Joe Castilgione and Lincoln Riley and on and on," Stoops said. "With that connection, this works pretty well."