Once upon a time, Matt Campbell wrote Bob Stoops a letter

Oct 15, 2016; Austin, TX, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell reacts against the Texas Longhorns during the third quarter at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. The Longhorns won 27-6. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

At age 36, Matt Campbell is the youngest head coach in Power 5 football.

That means when Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops took over as the Sooners’ head coach in 1999, Iowa State’s head coach was a college student working his way towards three national championships at Mount Union.

He was just a kid while Stoops, a Youngstown, Ohio, native, was rebuilding one of college football’s powerhouses.

When Campbell’s playing career ended and it came time to take the next step in his coaching career, he sent Stoops a letter.

“I sent a (graduate assistant) letter right after college to try to get a GA job there,” Campbell, a native of Massillon, Ohio, said. “But I didn’t get it. I don’t know if I even got a return back on it.”

Campbell didn’t even hear back from Stoops, who had already won a national championship and two Big 12 titles when Campbell’s college career ended after the 2002 season.

Instead, Campbell ended up as a graduate assistant at Bowling Green and set down the path that would lead him to Ames almost 15 years later. Despite not getting a letter back, Campbell has looked up to Stoops, who has won 185 games in 18 years at OU, while building his career as a football coach.

“Coach Stoops being from from our area, seeing the program he’s built over the last 18, 19 years at Oklahoma, how he’s done it. The character in which he’s done things. I think those are things that I’ve always had a great amount of respect for what he’s done and who he is,” Campbell said. “As a young guy growing up in our area, seeing a guy like Coach Stoops whose had the success that he’s had. It has been, from afar, a great mentorship and respect from our end.”

The two coaches will go head-to-head for the first time on Thursday when Stoops’ Sooners visit Jack Trice Stadium for a 6:30 p.m. kick.

Jared Stansbury


Jared is in his sixth year covering Iowa State football and basketball for Cyclone Fanatic. He's the site's lead reporter for ISU recruiting. He worked as the site's intern for three years while studying Journalism in Iowa State's Greenlee School of Journalism. He started as the full-time staff writer in May 2016. Jared spent five falls covering Iowa high school football as a reporter for KMA Radio, 1460 KXNO and 1430 KASI.