Younger Stoops exits program on a sorry note

2010-01-03T00:00:00Z Younger Stoops exits program on a sorry note Patrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 03, 2010 12:00 am  • 

In one of his last official acts as UA defensive coordinator, Mark Stoops apologized to the Wildcats head coach.

Which, if you've ever had an older brother or a bad day at work, or both, sounds pretty difficult.

The Wildcats had just lost 33-0 to Nebraska in Wednesday's Holiday Bowl when Stoops approached head coach Mike Stoops.

"I just told him, 'Sorry,' " Mark Stoops said. "I love him and I'm sorry.

"He just said, 'Hey, it wasn't any one side right there. That was a team effort right there of poor play.' "

Three days later, Mark Stoops took over the same position at Florida State. The Wildcats defensive coordinator since 2004 flew to Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday to begin work for new head coach Jimbo Fisher.

Friday, FSU coach Bobby Bowden won his finale at the Gator Bowl.

Mark Stoops will be greeted with a major challenge. Mickey Andrews' defensive squad gave up 443.5 yards per game in the regular season, ranking 110th of 120 nationally. But for Washington State, the Seminoles defense was the worst among Bowl Championship Series conference teams.

FSU allowed 30.75 points per game, No. 98 in the nation.

"(Mark Stoops) is fiery. His players love him," said Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini, who grew up with Mark Stoops in Youngstown, Ohio. "They play hard for him. He's a very genuine guy.

"There are a lot of good X's and O's guys out there, but to me the thing that separates the great coaches from the good coaches is the relationship you're able to build with your players - to make them want to play hard for you."

Mike Stoops said this past week that he "had a hard time thinking" about his brother leaving for Florida State. He said Mark Stoops made "probably 90 percent" of the defensive calls at Arizona, but joked that "I've made all the good ones" over the years.

"He'll be missed in a lot of ways," Mike Stoops said. "I don't know if there's anyone you trust more than your brother."

Mike Stoops, who served as brother Bob's defensive coordinator for five years, spoke with Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini about working with siblings. Bo is brother Carl's boss.

"I don't think anyone has harder jobs than Carl or Mark in leading their respective defenses when their coaches are so defensive-oriented," Mike Stoops said.

The Wildcats gave up 396 yards to Nebraska, about 80 yards more than the team average, in Wednesday's debacle.

Afterward, Mark Stoops tried to distance Wednesday's result from his UA experience.

"No one game defines you here or there," he said. "We've had big wins. We've had big losses. This game does not feel good because we built a strong foundation here.

"I cannot define my whole career on this game by any stretch. I feel proud of what we've done and how far we've come.

"It was a great experience. I learned an awful lot from Mike. I can probably never repay him for all the knowledge that I learned from him."

After apologizing to his brother, Mark Stoops addressed his team. He thought back to what defensive tackle Earl Mitchell said more than a month ago.

"Earl stood up at a team meeting before the Oregon game and said, 'Win, lose or draw, I'm proud to be associated with this group because we have changed the complexion of Arizona football,' " Mark Stoops said.

"And I feel the same way."

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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