Mike Stoops Named Arizona's Head Coach

Nov. 29, 2003

TUCSON - TUCSON, Ariz.-Mike Stoops, associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator for the top-ranked and undefeated University of Oklahoma Sooners, was introduced as head football coach at the University of Arizona today by athletics director Jim Livengood and UA President Peter Likins.

Stoops' hiring culminates a nine-week search begun Sept. 28 when Livengood removed John Mackovic as head coach and assigned defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz to direct the football program for the remainder of the season. The Wildcats, 1-4 at the time of Mackovic's departure, finished 2-10 overall and 1-7 for a first-ever 10th-place finish in the Pacific-10 Conference. Arizona concluded its season with a 28-7 loss at Arizona State Friday afternoon.

'I'm obviously very excited about the opportunity to become a head coach and lead my own program, and pleased to be working with a great administrative group that has shown its support of football. I think the quality of the people with whom I've been dealing in the hiring process is one of the compelling reasons I took the job,' Stoops said.

Stoops, who will turn 42 on Dec. 13, is the 28th head football coach in Arizona's 104-year football history, including the two-month tenure held by Hankwitz. He is the youngest Arizona head football coach since Larry Smith was hired in April 1980 at the age of 40.

A 12-member search committee chaired by senior associate athletics director Kathleen LaRose screened a list of more than 100 potential coaches, identified about a dozen top candidates, and then Livengood, UA President Peter Likins, LaRose and other athletic department officials interviewed five candidates for the job in recent weeks. Hankwitz, who accepted a difficult situation in late September, was one of the top choices.

'I have to be honest. Mike Stoops is one of the hottest names and bright coaching prospects in the game. We had some outstanding choices. We made the right one in selecting Mike,' Livengood said.

'Mike's been to the Rose Bowl three times - once as a player and twice as a coach. When we looked for a new man to lead Arizona's program one theme that most attracted me was finding someone whose background involved a winning tradition. Mike's been involved with three major-college programs and combined they've nearly won eighty percent of their games in his 18 years in the profession,' he said.

'Thanksgiving weekend is a great time for leftovers, but the University of Arizona did not plan to stand in line for any. We wanted the top man available. We're moving forward today,' Livengood said.

Stoops has been with the Oklahoma staff as coordinator since 1999. He worked directly with the defensive secondary and put together the Sooners' highly rated defensive package with co-coordinator Brent Venables, the linebackers coach.

In the Nov. 22 NCAA Division I-A statistical rankings, Oklahoma is No. 1 in total defense, No. 1 in pass efficiency defense, No. 1 in pass defense, No. 3 in scoring defense and No. 10 in rushing defense. The 12-0 Sooners, bound for the Big 12 Championship game Dec. 6 against Kansas State in Kansas City, also have the nation's top-rated scoring offense and are No. 11 in total offense.

Stoops will join Oklahoma for its Big 12 title contest, but has indicated he will return to Tucson after the first week in December to assemble his coaching staff and direct UA's effort during a key December recruiting period.

During Stoops' tenure as defensive coordinator under head coach Bob Stoops, his older brother, the Sooners have compiled a record of 55-9, including a perfect 13-0 mark in 2000 when Oklahoma won its seventh national championship, and its flawless record this season. OU has appeared in four consecutive bowl games under the Stoops' leadership, on the heels of a four-year bowl drought. A year ago, OU became the first Big 12 school to win the Rose Bowl, dispatching Washington State, 34-14.

The Sooners will finish in the Top 10 again this year, making a fourth final Associated Press ranking in Stoops' five years on the staff. The 2001 club finished No. 6 in the polls and the 2002 team was No. 5.

A year after the Sooners won the national title, Stoops was a finalist for the 2001 American Football Coaches Association assistant coach of the year award. That year's Oklahoma club was fourth nationally in scoring defense and total defense, fifth in pass efficiency defense, seventh in rushing defense, 11th in passing defense and sixth in turnovers gained.

This year's Oklahoma team, with nine returning starters on defense, has 20 interceptions including six by safety Brodney Pool and three by cornerback Derrick Strait, a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back. Also, the defense has forced 18 fumbles and recovered 11 of them for a total of 31 turnovers gained, eighth nationally.

Strait also is a finalist, along with OU defensive tackle Tommie Harris, for the Bronko Nagurski Award as national defensive player of the year as picked by the FWAA.

The 2001 Oklahoma defense was a dominating unit, ranking fourth in scoring defense and total defense, fifth in pass efficiency defense, seventh in rushing defense and 11th in passing defense. In 2000 and 2001 the Sooner defense had 33 takeaways in each season, rating in the top 10 among turnovers gained.

This year, among other highlights that emphasize its effectiveness, the Oklahoma defense didn't allow a touchdown in a splurge of one-sided November victories over Oklahoma State (52-9), Texas A&M (77-0) and Baylor (41-3). Earlier this year, the Sooners beat Pac-10 affiliate UCLA, 52-24, in Norman on Sept. 20.

A total of six Oklahoma players were named All-America last week by the Football Writers Association of America, including three on Stoops' defensive units - Strait, Harris and linebacker Teddy Lehman.

Lehman was a finalist for the Butkus Award in 2002 and earned first-team All-America honors. Linebacker Lance Mitchell was the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and led the Sooners in tackling.

Oklahoma netted a dozen Big 12 Conference All-Academic honors last Tuesday, including eight first-team selections. Defensive tackle Kory Klein, linebacker Pasha Jackson, nickel back Matt McCoy, defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek and cornerback Antonio Perkins earned first-team status while defensive end Dan Cody was a second-team selection among the Sooners' defensive players chosen to the scholastic squad.

Stoops has helped put a number of OU players into the National Football League in recent years including 2000 linebacker Torrence Marshall (Packers), 2001 linebacker Rocky Calmus (Titans), 2001 linebacker Brandon Moore (Chargers), 2001 safety Roy Williams (Cowboys), 2002 defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson (Chiefs) and 2002 cornerback Andre Woolfolk. Williams won the Jim Thorpe and the Bronko Nagurski Awards in 2001.

Stoops has coached in 14 bowl games and competed in four others as a player. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Iowa, in 1986. He served in that capacity for two years, and served for the Hawkeyes as a volunteer coach under Hayden Fry for another four seasons.

Iowa went to five bowls in six years and won 10 games three times during his stint in Iowa City, including a 10-2 mark and Holiday Bowl victory over San Diego State in 1986, a 10-2 mark and Holiday Bowl victory over Wyoming in 1987 and a 10-2 mark and Holiday Bowl loss to Brigham Young in 1991. The 1990 Hawks were Big Ten champions and finished with an 8-4 record after a Rose Bowl loss to Washington.

After his fifth year at Iowa, Stoops joined the Kansas State staff under Bill Snyder in 1992 as defensive ends coach. In 1996, he became KSU's co-defensive coordinator along with the defensive end responsibilities, then switched to focus on the secondary in 1997. In January 1997, Snyder elevated Stoops to assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.

In his first year on the Kansas State staff, the Wildcats finished 5-6, but turned it around dramatically and completed the following six seasons with marks of 9-2-1 in 1993, 9-3 in 1994, 10-2 in 1995, 9-3 in 1996, 11-1 in 1997 and 11-2 in his final year in 1998 when KSU won the Big 12 North Division title at 8-0.

KSU appeared in the 1993 Copper Bowl in Tucson against Wyoming, winning 52-17, then put together a string of five consecutive bowl appearances in Stoops' final years in Manhattan. In all, KSU was 64-19 during his tenure on the staff.

Kansas State was one of only four schools to rank among the Division I-A top 10 in every major defensive category during Stoops' final year on the staff. In 1997, the KSU defense also stood fourth and fifth in total defense and pass efficiency defense.

The three programs he has served under Fry, Snyder and Bob Stoops have combined to record a sparkling record of 168-48-2 during Mike Stoops' 18 seasons on collegiate coaching staffs, a winning percentage of .775.

While at player at Iowa, from which he graduated in 1984, Stoops earned United Press International first-team All-America honors as a defensive back in 1984, his senior year. He was a two-time, first-team All-Big Ten selection, in 1983-84. He led the conference in interceptions in 1983 as a junior with six in nine games. The Hawks played in bowl games each year including the Rose Bowl during his freshman year in 1982. He played on two squads that featured his brother, also a defensive back.

After graduation he played briefly with the Chicago Bears and the Arena Football League's Pittsburgh Gladiators before returning to Iowa City as a graduate assistant.

Stoops' father, Ron Sr., was a 28-year defensive coordinator at Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown, Ohio, where Stoops attended. Brothers Mark (Miami secondary coach) and Ron Jr. (defensive coordinator at Cardinal Mooney) also are football coaches.

Stoops and his wife, Nicole, have two children, daughter Peyton, 4, and son Colton, 1.

Arizona Head Football Coach Mike Stoops

Birth date Dec. 13, 1961, Youngstown, OhioHometown Youngstown, OhioHigh School Cardinal Mooney, Youngstown, OhioCollege University of Iowa, 1986Family Married to the former Nicole Wedgeworth Two children: daughter Payton (4), son Colton (1)

Mike Stoops' Coaching Chronology

1986 Graduate assistant coach Iowa1987 Graduate assistant coach Iowa1988 Volunteer assistant (linebackers/DB) Iowa1989 Volunteer assistant (linebackers/DB) Iowa1990 Volunteer assistant (linebackers/DB) Iowa1991 Volunteer assistant (linebackers/DE Iowa1992 Defensive ends coach Kansas State1993 Defensive ends coach Kansas State1994 Defensive ends coach Kansas State1995 Defensive ends coach Kansas State1996 Co-defensive coordinator/DE Kansas State1997 Co-defensive coordinator/DB Kansas State1998 Assistant head coach/defensive coordinator/DB Kansas State1999 Associate head coach/defensive coordinator/DB Oklahoma2000 Associate head coach/defensive coordinator/DB Oklahoma2001 Associate head coach/defensive coordinator/DB Oklahoma2002 Associate head coach/defensive coordinator/DB Oklahoma2003 Associate head coach/defensive coordinator/DB Oklahoma

Mike Stoops' Bowl Games Background1982 Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif. Iowa (player)1982 Peach Bowl, Atlanta Iowa (player)1983 Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, Fla. Iowa (player)1984 Freedom Bowl, Anaheim, Calif. Iowa (player)1987 Holiday Bowl, San Diego Iowa (graduate assistant)1988 Peach Bowl, Atlanta Iowa (volunteer assistant, LB/DB)1990 Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif. Iowa (volunteer assistant, LB/DB)1991 Holiday Bowl, San Diego Iowa (volunteer assistant, LB/DB)1993 Copper Bowl, Tucson, Ariz. Kansas State (defensive ends coach)1994 Aloha Bowl, Oahu, Hawaii Kansas State (defensive ends coach)1996 Cotton Bowl, Dallas Kansas State (co-defensive coordinator, DE)1997 Fiesta Bowl, Phoenix Kansas State (co-defensive coordinator, DB)1998 Alamo Bowl, San Antonio, Texas Kansas State (assistant head coach, DC/DB)1999 Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La. Oklahoma (associate head coach, DC/DB)2000 Orange Bowl, Miami, Fla. Oklahoma (associate head coach, DC.DB)2001 Cotton Bowl, Dallas Oklahoma (associate head coach, DC/DB)2002 Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif. Oklahoma (associate head coach, DC/DB)

Categories:
Now on Pac-12 Network
8:30 AM PT

Airing on:

  • Pac-12 Network
Get Pac-12 Networks
Pac-12 Networks Channel Finder
Close