Mike Stoops officially returns to OU
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Writer
Thursday, January 12, 2012
1/12/12 at 10:55 AM
The Stoops brothers are back together.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops officially re-hired younger brother Mike on Thursday, reuniting an intense tandem that once ruled college football with an iron defensive fist.
Bob Stoops confirmed the hiring in a text message to Tulsa World columnist Dave Sittler.
Sooner Nation now hopes Stoops’ return rekindles the spark that helped OU rank in the top 25 of every major defensive statistical category from 2000 to 2003 and helped the Sooners win a school record 48 games, two conference titles and the 2000 national championship.
Mike Stoops, 49, was fired in October after 7 1/2 seasons as head coach at Arizona. He will be co-defensive coordinator alongside Brent Venables. It’s unknown who will call defensive signals.
Since then, Stoops has gotten dozens of questions about his brother returning. He said he would bring him back “in the right circumstances,” and Mike Stoops told the Tulsa World minutes after the Insight Bowl he was “ready to get back to work.”
After Bob Stoops hired them both from Kansas State in 1999, Mike Stoops and Venables co-coordinated OU’s defense (with Stoops calling signals) until Stoops left for Arizona in December 2003.
Venables, 41, also is the Sooners’ associate head coach. He has called defensive signals since Stoops left prior to OU’s 2003-04 Sugar Bowl loss to LSU. Venables was co-coordinator alongside Bo Pelini in 2004, and has held the defensive coordinator title since Pelini left to direct LSU’s defense a month after OU’s 2004-05 Orange Bowl loss to USC. Defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright, 61, holds the title of OU’s assistant defensive coordinator.
Mike Stoops will replace defensive backs coach Willie Martinez. Bob Stoops told Sittler he didn’t know yet where Martinez was going.
Martinez was at OU for two seasons after he was fired as defensive coordinator at Georgia. Sooner defensive backs — who also receive daily coaching from Bob Stoops —have been susceptible to long passes in recent years, and OU ranked 51st and 80th nationally against the pass the last two seasons.
This season, after a particularly shaky first half at Baylor — OU gave up completions of 55 and 69 yard (and an 80-yard touchdown that was called back) — Bob Stoops and Martinez were seen shouting at each other as the team went into the locker room.
Mike Stoops’ return gives Sooner fans hope that those big pass plays are a thing of the past. As he did from 1999-2003, Stoops will coach OU defensive backs. (Stoops’ defensive backs were good but not perfect; he was DBs coach when the Sooners gave up deep throws in losses to Oklahoma State and Texas A&M in 2001 in 2002.)
Mike Stoops continued to follow in his big brother’s shoes as defensive coordinator at Kansas State from 1996-98, then was instrumental in helping restore Oklahoma to glory in 1999.
When the Stoopses arrived, OU hadn’t had a winning season in five years and hadn’t competed for a conference title in 12 years. After going 7-5 in their first season, the Stoops-led Sooners went 13-0 in 2000 and 48-6 over the next four years — then an NCAA record for wins over four seasons (Boise State won 49 from 2003-06).
In those four seasons, OU never finished lower than 25th in any of the four major defensive statistical categories (rushing, passing, overall, scoring), and 11 times finished in the top 10 nationally. Three times — 2000, 2001 and 2003 — the Sooner defense ranked in the top 10 in three of the four statistical categories.
Conventional wisdom holds that offenses have become more prolific in recent years. But many contemporary defensive numbers are comparable to what they were in 2000. For example, OU’s 279 yards per game allowed in 2000 ranked eighth nationally then; this season that number would rank seventh in the country.
During the eight years Mike Stoops was in Tucson, OU had just one season (2009) in which the Sooners ranked in the top 10 in three of the four major defensive categories. In the last four seasons, national rankings ranging from the 50s to the 80s have become commonplace. The 2008 defense ranked 99th nationally against the pass; this season’s unit ranks 80th. Only one OU defense in the last four seasons ranked in the top 30 nationally in total yards allowed.
Much of the blame for the Sooners’ defensive dip since 2008 falls on the offense, which adopted a fast-paced, no-huddle attack that puts the defense on the field more often. In the four seasons since the up-tempo offense was installed in 2008, OU has led the nation three times in plays per game, averaging 81. During that time, the defense has allowed 71 plays per game.
In the four seasons Mike Stoops was OU’s co-defensive coordinator, the Sooner offense snapped the ball 73 times per game, and the defense faced an average of 66 plays per game.
Stoops brings a fiery personality and mercurial sideline demeanor that insiders think brought out the best in past OU players. The 2000-03 Sooner defenses produced 10 All-Americans, but only had nine players selected in the NFL Draft. Since then, OU has had just six defensive All-Americans, though 18 defenders were drafted.
OU had five defensive backs earn All-American honors under Mike Stoops, but only four were drafted. Since Stoops left, only one Sooner DB — Quinton Carter last year — was named All-American, but eight OU defensive backs have been drafted.
Two years younger than Bob, Mike Stoops, like his brother, was a two-time All-Big Ten defensive back at Iowa. He led the conference in interceptions in 1983 and helped the Hawkeyes to four consecutive bowl games.
As head coach at Arizona, however, Stoops was unable to sustain success. His teams went 41-50 and he was fired midway through the 2011 season after the Wildcats started 1-5. Stoops guided Arizona to three straight bowl games from 2008-10, but his teams never won more than eight games in a season.
Much of that lack of success could be pinned on Arizona’s defense. The Wildcats finished in the top 25 nationally in total defense just twice in eight years, and never finished better than 33rd in scoring defense. This year’s defense ranked 110th out of 120 teams in total yards allowed and 107th in points allowed.
Stoops was hired at Arizona the week before Oklahoma played Kansas State in the 2003 Big 12 championship game, but he still coordinated the OU defense against the Wildcats. The Sooners allowed just 233 yards per game that season before K-State strafed them for 519 yards in a shocking 35-7 upset.
Stoops was back and forth between Norman and Tucson the week leading up to the game. He missed meetings and film sessions but Bob Stoops said then that he never missed an important practice.
“It’s hard,” Mike Stoops said in December 2004. “It’s very difficult to be at two places at one time. I don’t think you can do it.”
Department of defense
Oklahoma posted some of its best statistical performances — and produced plenty of All-Americans and NFL Draft picks — in its last four seasons under Mike Stoops. But in the eight seasons since Stoops left to take over the program at Arizona, OU has twice put up numbers that rivaled the worst in school history, and defensive accolades have slowed considerably despite having more overall NFL talent.
Oklahoma defense with Mike Stoops
|2000|| 2001|| 2002||2003|
|Rush|| 108.2 (23rd)|| 89.9 (7th)||107.9 (14th)||113.2 (20th)
|Pass|| 170.8 (9th)|| 172.9 (11th)||185.3 (25th)||146.4 (2nd)
|Total ||278.9 (8th)||262.8 (4th)||293.1 (10th)||259.6 (3rd)
|Scoring|| 16.0 (7th)|| 13.8 (4th)||15.4 (6th)||15.3 (5th)
Oklahoma defense without Mike Stoops
|2004|| 2005|| 2006||2007||2008||2009||2010||2011|
|Rush|| 94.6 (6th)|| 90.6 (4th)||98.7 (16th)||110.3 (17th)||116.2 (20th)||92.9 (8th)||148.9 (58th)||134.7 (43rd)
|Pass|| 204.5 (48th)|| 214.2 (53rd)||188.4 (41st)||228.1 (59th)||251.5 (99th)||179.7 (20th)||212.9 (51st)||241.5 (79th)
|Total ||299.0 (13th)||306.7 (13th)||287.1 (16th)||338.4 (26th)
||367.7 (68th)||272.6 (8th)||361.9 (53rd)||376.2 (55th)
|Scoring|| 16.8 (11th)|| 23.1 (37th)||17.3 (19th)||20.3 (19th)
||24.5 (58th)||14.5 (7th)||21.8 (33rd)||22.1 (31st)