Retired Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops made a brief return to the field on Tuesday, coach Lincoln Riley said.
"We brought Coach Stoops out of retirement today," Riley said at his weekly news conference. "He was out on the field and coached with us today. It was great to have him out there."
The Sooners' game scheduled for last weekend against West Virginia was postponed because of positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing within the Oklahoma program. Riley said that testing results and contact tracing "affected all parts of our program," including coaching staff, support staff and players.
Test results released by the Oklahoma athletic department on Monday showed that there are 27 active COVID-19 cases among athletes and 13 among staff members across all sports. It's not clear how many of those cases in either category are specifically tied to the football program.
The Sooners paused football activities last week after the positive cases surfaced; they returned to practice on Monday after five days off. Riley said the Sooners have had this as a contingency plan with Stoops this season in case the need arose.
"It was great," Riley said. "It's nice. We've kind of had it in our hip pocket this whole time, that if we had any staff member that fell off, we've got a Hall of Famer sitting on the bench. That's a pretty good bench when you can call that guy up."
Stoops coached the Sooners for 18 seasons before retiring in June 2017. He led Oklahoma to a national championship in 2000, 10 Big 12 championships, 14 seasons of double-digit victories and held a 190-48 overall record before handing off the program to Riley ahead of the 2017 season.
"Just how much he cares about this program, I don't think there's anything that he wouldn't do," Riley said. "So it was great to have him out there today. It was awesome. Our kids were excited to see him, all of us were excited to see him, so I think he had some fun as well."
Stoops has been under contract with Oklahoma as a "special assistant" to athletic director Joe Castiglione since his retirement from coaching, thus making him eligible to assist the Sooners in this capacity. Stoops also spent the early part of 2020 coaching the XFL's Dallas Renegades.
In a statement Tuesday, Stoops said he looks forward to helping in any way he can but promised to keep a "low profile."
"If I can add some enthusiasm or positive energy for these players -- and I do know most of them -- that's a good thing," he said in the statement. "But let's not get carried away. The people that will influence this game and the rest of our games this season will be Coach Riley, his staff and the players."
The Sooners (6-2, 5-2 Big 12) are scheduled to return to game action on Saturday night when they host Baylor. Riley did not rule out the possibility of Stoops coaching on the field in the game.
"We'll just have to see how the week plays out and what's available as far as the normal staff," Riley said. "But it's certainly a pretty darn good option to have."
Riley said he and Stoops still speak often and he leans on Stoops for advice.
"He's one of the few people in my life that I know that, regardless of what it is, I can go to and get really well-thought out, honest, great advice," Riley said. "This program is still, obviously, very near and dear to him and he's obviously still a part of it."