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Is Mike Stoops the Real Genius of the Football Family?

TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 28:  Head coach Mike Stoops of the Arizona Wildcats walks the sidelines during the college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Tempe, Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Sun Devils 20-17.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Rick PowellContributor IDecember 3, 2016

Coach Mike Stoops left the plains of Oklahoma for the sweltering heat of Arizona in 2004. The move to the desert allowed for the sun to shine on Mike and purged him of the shadow cast by older brother, Bob Stoops, head coach at the University of Oklahoma.

Bob Stoops has had the most head coaching success to date at Oklahoma, cruising to a 117-29 record since 1999. He’s also won six Big XII championships, appeared in the National Championship game four times, and succeeded in winning a National Championship, with Mike Stoops as his defensive coordinator, in 2000.

Bob Stoops was the beneficiary of solid recruiting at Oklahoma when he took over in 1999. He was able to build on a team that already had J.T Thatcher, Josh Norman, Roy Williams, and Rocky Calmus. The states of Oklahoma and Texas consistently produce the best football talent in the country and Bob greatly benefited from being able to recruit those players.

Oklahoma had already established itself as a football powerhouse as the Stoops era began. Granted, the 1990’s did not produce the expected results, which led to the eventual hiring of Bob. Recruiting football players to a football school was a fairly easy sell.

Mike Stoops’ accolades are less impressive on a national scale, but he has seen recent success. He has led Arizona to a 33-39 record as head coach, with the majority of those wins coming during back-to-back 8-5 seasons in 2008 and 2009. A dominating performance over BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl in 2008 and a crushing defeat against Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl in 2009 are Mike Stoops’ only bowl appearances.

Mike Stoops inherited a disheartened, motley crew of a team at Arizona when Coach John Mackovic left Tucson high, dry, and ransacked, much like a cattle thief of the Old West. Mike Stoops knew he was in for a rough couple years when he took the job, but started getting his hands dirty right away.

The hurddles were set high for Mike in the beginning and he began shaking the states of California and Texas to see if any prospects would fall out. Stoops has consistently pulled in prospects that were passed over by Texas, Oklahoma, UCLA, and USC. He and his staff have turned those underdogs into college football players and even sent some to the NFL.

Arizona had long been a basketball and softball school, with Lute Olson featured as Sheriff, and softball Head Coach Mike Candrea as Deputy. Coach Stoops undertook the task of turning Arizona into a football school, securing boosters, improving facilities, and gaining a proposed stadium upgrade.

Mike Stoops coached his underdog teams to victories over No. 20 ASU in his first season in 2004, No. 7 UCLA in 2005, No. 8 Cal in 2006, and No.2 Oregon in 2007. In 2006, the Wildcats posted a 6-6 record, the first non-losing season since 1999.

Bob Stoops has accomplished many great feats as the head coach at the University of Oklahoma, but he was the beneficiary of being in a recruiting hot-bed at an established football school.

The bigger surprise is the success of younger brother Mike and his resurrection of a football program frozen in the desert.

The Stoops family has definitely made its mark on college football, and while Bob Stoops may be nationally recognized as the genius of the family, Mike Stoops has done more with less at Arizona and thrown his own name into the discussion of Stoops family football virtuosos.

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