By John Shinn
CNHI News Service
NORMAN – Part of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops’ press conference Monday turned into a discussion on the physical and mental stress football coaches face.
The issue has become timely after two NFL coaches — Denver’s John Fox and Houston’s Gary Kubiak — are now away from their teams due to health issues. Kubiak remains in a Houston hospital after collapsing at halftime of the Texans’ game against Indianapolis Sunday night. Fox underwent heart surgery over the weekend and will miss several games while he recuperates.
The stress the game and coaching can cause are no secret to Stoops, whose father, Ron, died of a heart attack at 54. He suffered the heart attack during a game.
“I know the stresses of it. Not that (knowing) can prevent it, but I’m checked by my doctor routinely and monitored, even cholesterol,” Stoops said. “I’ve got a lot of issues that I’ve got to manage. I think everybody should.
“That’s the one positive thing about coaching – we’re around great medical teams. So use them to make sure you’re in as good a position as you can be. It still doesn’t mean you can prevent anything, but hopefully you lessen your percentage.”
The physical checkups help, but the stress that comes from long days and nights also take a toll. Stoops pointed out that from late July through the end of the season there is no time off.
Just last week, OU’s players had Thursday and Friday off to help set the schedule for Thursday’s game against Baylor.
The coaches? They hit the road recruiting.
“The lifestyle is different. Not everyone understands it. Not all spouses understand it. I don’t know that the general public realizes it,” Stoops said. “From late July through January, it’s seven days a week. You get home at eight, nine, 10, 11, sometimes midnight or one, depending on how you’re scheming things. It’s a different lifestyle that isn’t for everybody. The guys that are in it, we love it. It’s what you do.”
The pressure to win is the same, but the time constraints the NCAA has placed on practice — 20 hours a week — does help college coaches. Players don’t typically arrive for meetings until early in the afternoon. Coaches have all morning to get work done before meeting with players. Burning the midnight oil isn’t as common as it is in the NFL.
“Our players don’t walk in here at eight in the morning ready to work all day. They’re in class. I can’t get them until two o’clock. We have all morning and early afternoon to plan for what we want that day,” Stoops said. “It different than if had they shown up at eight. We’d need to be ready to work. I think the NFL style, they probably have to be (work) later evenings than we do.”
Stoops has always been known for stressing the importance of a personal life with his coaching staff. They have jobs to do getting game plans prepared, running practice, being fully prepared for games and there’s always recruiting. But when the job is done, go home.
“Do what you need to and make sure our plans are what they need to be, but don’t guard your desk and tell everyone that you guarded it and you were there until whatever time,” Stoops said. “Make sure you are productive.
“We all try and do that. It’s a comfort level with different coaches. Some coaches are, ‘Hey, I know what I want and I’m done.’ Other coaches second-guess it and want to watch it a little more. That’s OK. You have to do what you feel is right.”