Snap decision: Heupel returns to Sooners as QB coach

Updated: December 23, 2005, 9:16 PM ET
Associated Press

NORMAN, Okla. -- Josh Heupel, who led Oklahoma to the national championship in 2000, returned to the Sooners on Thursday as the team's new quarterbacks coach.

Heupel, the 2000 AP Player of the Year, fills a position opened when offensive coordinator Chuck Long became the head coach at San Diego State on Saturday. The Sooners named Kevin Wilson as Long's replacement at offensive coordinator, leaving an opening at quarterbacks coach, a position also held by Long.

"I'm extremely excited about being back here and being part of this football program and university," Heupel said. "It's a great opportunity for me to come back. It's an opportunity for me to coach quarterbacks. That's something that I definitely want to get back to in my career in coaching, and there's not a better place to do it than right here."

Heupel left Arizona after one season as the Wildcats' tight ends coach. Before that, he was a graduate assistant for the Sooners for one year. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops' brother, Mike Stoops, is the coach at Arizona.

"Even when I played here, this was a great place to be. I truly enjoy it," Heupel said. "It's a home of mine. A lot of my family lives here, so that's definitely a major part of why I came back.

"But the opportunity to coach quarterbacks and to do it at the place that you played ... just makes it an easy decision."

Heupel was 20-5 in two seasons as Oklahoma's starting quarterback and guided the Sooners to a 13-2 win against Florida State in the Orange Bowl in January 2001. The 2000 Heisman Trophy runner-up holds or shares 13 school records and his 7,456 passing yards rank second on the school's career passing list behind Jason White.

"This isn't just about fit. Josh brings a lot," said Stoops, who recruited Heupel to Oklahoma when he arrived in 1999. "I think he's matured beyond his years coaching-wise. Being in our offices, I've seen him contribute even in a GA role, working with coach Wilson, his leadership on the field.

"Josh is a good football coach."

Stoops said Heupel would join the Sooners (7-4) for practice immediately and coach in the Holiday Bowl against No. 6 Oregon (10-1) on Dec. 29.

Heupel said the two most important lessons for him to instill in a quarterback are how to eliminate critical mistakes and how to become a leader.

"If you can get the 10 other guys in the huddle to raise their game and play at a higher level, then you're going to be successful as a quarterback," Heupel said.

After his college career, Heupel was drafted in the sixth round of the NFL draft by the Miami Dolphins. He spent one season each in Miami, Green Bay and in NFL Europe before returning to Oklahoma as a graduate assistant.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press