Stoops Hits Ground Running

Dec. 8, 2003

Arizona head football coach Mike Stoops spent his first full day on the job in Tucson Monday, but hits the road quickly, leaving on an Arizona-California recruiting swing Tuesday.

The former co-defensive coordinator at Oklahoma finished the regular season on the sidelines in Kansas City on Saturday, where Kansas State secured its first Big 12 Championship with a 35-7 victory over the Sooners.

Stoops, 41, has jumped into the recruiting process for players in the 2004 Arizona class and also is involved in recruiting the rest of his UA coaching staff. He huddled in the morning with the first two assistants he's brought on board -- brother Mark Stoops, secondary coach at Miami the past three seasons, and Eric Wolford, offensive line coach at North Texas last year.

Mark Stoops is expected to direct Arizona's defense next season while Wolford will coach on the offensive side of the ball. Stoops said he has contacted a number of prospects to fill out the staff and might make an addition sometime this week, but also could wait until after the bowl season. 'Some of the guys will coach in bowl games and some are in the NFL. I'm taking my time, too, in order to make the right choices,' he said.

Stoops told reporters after a 30-minute morning photo session for UA promotional materials that he had not decided if he would join Oklahoma, coached by his older brother, Bob, in the Nokia Sugar Bowl for the BCS Championship Jan. 4 in New Orleans. He said if he did attend it would not be in the capacity as OU's defensive coordinator. 'Obviously all my time now is really involved with the University of Arizona and our football team here.'

Stoops spent most of the day getting some organizational work completed, meeting with various support staff, and with UA athletics director Jim Livengood and top aides, then held a widely anticipated meeting with returning Arizona players in the late afternoon.

'I'm excited, almost enough to get out there and start playing right now,' junior-to-be defensive back Darrell Brooks said after the meeting. Stoops was direct with the team about players' expected improvement in work habits, yet was positive about the 2004 season and emphatic about how Arizona will be a different team, in just nine months, Brooks said.

Stoops said Arizona is getting a good reception from prospective recruits in Texas, Arizona and California, the three states he plans to most emphasize in recruiting efforts. 'We feel like we can put together a great recruiting class.' He said, too, that name recognition has not been a problem. 'What Bob's done at Oklahoma, having Mark come from Miami of Florida, all that will help,' with the various Stoops success stories now intertwined with Arizona.

So far, Arizona's new coaching staff is well connected and has a background of playing and working together.

Mark Stoops, 36, has been Miami's defensive backs coach for the past three seasons, and also has experience as a co-defensive coordinator at Houston in 2000. He coached DBs at Wyoming in the late '90s for three years, one year in the same capacity at South Florida in 1996, and five years in the Ohio prep ranks.

Wolford was a colleague of Mark Stoops at Houston in 2000 in his first of three years with the Cougars. He coached offensive line, defensive line, running backs and special teams. He also was offensive line coach at South Florida from 1996-1999, was OL coach and strength coach at Emporia State in 1995 and was a graduate assistant at Kansas State in 1994 where Mike Stoops was defensive ends coach from 1992-95 and co-defensive coordinator in 1996-97 before taking the OU coordinator's position.

Mark Stoops played in four bowl games as an Iowa Hawkeye from 1986-88, while Wolford was a four-year starter on the offensive line at Kansas State from 1990-93, the latter two years when Mike Stoops was a graduate assistant for the Wildcats.

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