Stoops Showing Interest in Ohio State?
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — If Urban Meyer is really going to assemble the best coaching staff in college football, he might start with a familiar name.
Most of Meyer’s top choices are likely tied up coaching other teams around the country as they head into bowl season, but one of the top defensive minds in college football is already available.
After more than six seasons at Arizona, Mike Stoops was relieved of his duties as the head football coach in Tucson following a 1-5 start to the 2011 season. He has since been replaced by former Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, which means Stoops is available as a potential defensive coordinator.
He also sounds very interested at the prospect of joining Meyer in Columbus, where the former Florida coach took over as the 24th head coach in school history on Monday evening.
“Being able to work with a guy like Urban would be exciting,” Stoops told TucsonCitizen.com on Monday morning.
“He’s a guy you know you can win a championship with. He’s been there and done that. You’d love to have an opportunity like that.”
Stoops maintains that he has not been contacted by Meyer or Ohio State, but that could change in the near future. One of Meyer’s priorities over the next month will be to fill out his coaching staff in Columbus.
“I haven’t been offered a job, anywhere,” he said.
“It’s an interesting time right now. It will be an interesting week; I will put it that way. I don’t know what all is going to happen, but something will happen between this and next week.”
Meyer’s first move after accepting Ohio State’s six-year, $24 million offer was to convince interim head coach Luke Fickell to remain on staff with the Buckeyes. They agreed that Fickell would have a prominent role on the staff, but they did not decide exactly what his position would be.
The 38-year old Fickell served as Ohio State’s linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator before taking over the top job after Jim Tressel was forced to resign. He may end up being Meyer’s choice for defensive coordinator, but that could also depend on who else is interested in joining the staff.
Stoops is a decorated defensive coordinator, and if he is interested, it might allow Fickell to coach the linebackers or defensive line while holding the title of assistant head coach.
“Ohio State has always been a place we looked up to as one of the premier programs in all of football,” Stoops said.
“That’s always exciting to have a chance to work at a place like that. And I love coaching defense.”
The name Stoops is a familiar one in the state of Ohio. Mike and his three brothers—Bob, Mark and Ron Jr.—grew up in Youngstown and attended Cardinal Mooney High School, where their dad, Ron, was an assistant coach and defensive coordinator.
He went on to play safety at the University of Iowa (1982-84) and eventually coached alongside his brother, Bob, on the defensive staff for Bill Snyder at Kansas State in the mid 1990’s.
After a brief stint as the defensive coordinator at Florida, Bob took over the Oklahoma program, where he has become one of the most recognizable names in college football. The 51-year old has been in Norman since 1999, but has been linked to Ohio State every time the job has come available since the firing of John Cooper back in 2000.
Bob’s first move was to hire his brother Mike as the Sooners’ defensive coordinator in 1999, and it paid immediate dividends. During his six seasons at Oklahoma, the Sooners put together a 55-11 record, including the perfect 13-0 mark in 2000 when Oklahoma won its seventh national championship.
They finished in the top 10 four times while he was there and often featured some of the best defenses in college football. He is a fiery coach, who would seem to fit exactly what Meyer is looking for in his coaching staff.
Only time will tell of Stoops will have his own homecoming with the Buckeyes.
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