The Short List: Mike Stoops

At most schools, an open coordinator position wouldn't be cause for serious contemplation. Coordinators come and go, in most circumstances. Iowa football isn't most schools, though; the program hasn't hired a new coordinator in thirteen years, and a full-on head coaching search looks to be years away. Defensive Coordinator LET'S TALK ABOUT IT.

We've covered two of the three coaches on the current staff, and Darrell Wilson can wait for next week. Let's get to the favorite of exactly 50% of deranged sports talk callers and message board posters, the most illogical choice ever offered by Adam Rittenberg on anything, the living embodiment of all the internal strife we feel over going all Sin Cara on the Bob Stoops hire twelve years ago. Mike Stoops, come on down!


Mike Stoops, of course, is the recently-deposed head coach of Arizona. We all know the basics of this part of the story. In 7+ years with the Wildcats, Stoops compiled a 41-49 record, with a 27-38 record in conference play. He never finished better than 8-5, never placed higher in the Pac-10 than a tie for second. Under Stoops' leadership, Arizona went to three bowl games, so there's that. They also beat Iowa by seven in 2010, in what was probably the high point of his time in Tucson. After starting the 2010 season with seven wins in eight games and reaching #13 in the polls, Arizona lost its last five, including a triple overtime game against a pretty horrible Arizona State squad and an Alamo Bowl beating that resembled...well, The Alamo. His 2011 team started 1-5; to be fair, four of the teams who beat Arizona at the beginning of the season are now in the AP top six. Nevertheless, the Arizona administration had finally had enough, and Stoops was fired at the half-mile pole. He's been the prettiest girl at the dance for every unscrupulous Iowa fan ever since.

Prior to his time in the desert, Stoops was a defensive assistant for his brother Bob at Oklahoma, a defensive assistant at Kansas State, and, for a five-year period in the late 80's and early 90's, an assistant for Hayden Fry at Iowa. And, of course, before that, he played defensive back for Fry at Iowa, just as his brother Bob had, just as his brother Mark would. He was a two-time All-Big Ten selection at Iowa, and played on the 1985 team that briefly held the #1 spot in the national polls. FUN FACT: He was one of 80 players in the first season of the Arena League, so at the Arena League alumni meetings, Stoops gets to wear one of those "First 80" patches on his jacket like Piney on Sons of Anarchy.

Of course, the current interest from Iowa fans has less to do with his brief stint in the Arena League and more with the time he spent playing and coaching under Hayden Fry. These things matter to fans, to be sure; those old enough to remember the 80's Iowa teams certainly remember Stoops' contributions and take those contributions as a rationale sufficient to justify his hiring. It's the basic logic of any coaching search, at least on the back of a fan's napkin: A former player with a memorable career on successful squads and a resume distinguished enough to justify the position has to be in consideration. It's why Iowa fans think they should have Bob Stoops coaching this team now.

These things matter not one damn to Kirk Ferentz, though. Not only is Ferentz's current staff completely devoid of coaches who once coached under Hayden Fry, not only is Ferentz's current staff nearly devoid of former Iowa players (Ferentz-era linebacker LeVar Woods is in his second year as an administrative assistant, and offensive graduate assistant David Raih was a walk-on quarterback), but Ferentz hasn't had a former Fry assistant on staff since Carl Jackson retired in 2008; he hasn't had a former Fry-era Iowa player on his staff since Bret Bielema left for Wisconsin in 2002. Ties to Iowa are irrelevant here.

What matters more to Ferentz than Stoops' relationship with the university is Stoops' relationship with HIM. Every person on this staff is connected to Ferentz through some sort of six-degrees-of-Kirk-Ferentz circumstance, most stopping within a move or two. This doesn't necessarily disqualify Stoops, who played and coached under Fry largely during the same period as Ferentz; KF has acknowledged Stoops as a professional acquaintance. But Mike Stoops comes from the Bill Snyder-Bob Stoops branch of the family tree, a branch that has yet to ever intersect with Ferentz (unless you're counting Chuck Long's one-year holdover period with Ferentz after Fry's retirement, after which he left to join Stoops in Norman). And if Ferentz is going to buck that trend, I doubt it's for a hotheaded ex-head coach known for aggressive risk-taking on defense. Ferentz won't adopt to that philosophy, and he can't turn Stoops into a Stepford Defensive Coordinator, mindlessly running two-deep coverages ad infinitum. Mike Stoops doesn't fit the mold of the most tightly-molded program in the country, and so Mike Stoops almost certainly won't be the defensive coordinator.

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