Two divisive words among the Arizona Wildcats fanbase since he arrived in Tucson in 2004, but even moreso since his unceremonious departure in 2011.
But as time separates us from that disastrous end to his tenure, hearts have grown fonder of the less successful Stoops brother that led Arizona to its first bowl game in a decade.
The recruitment and development of NFL-caliber players was unarguably better in the Stoops era compared to the Rich Rodriguez era, and I think we’re starting to see why with how far reaching the Stoops coaching tree is growing.
In this current offseason, three FBS schools have hired former Stoops assistants to lead their programs as head coaches. Central Florida replaced Scott Frost with Josh Heupel (Arizona TE coach 2005), UTEP hired Dana Dimel (Arizona TE coach 2006-08 plus RBs in 2008) and SMU has tabbed Sonny Dykes (Arizona OC/QBs coach 2007-09) to take over for Chad Morris.
They’ll join Kentucky’s Mark Stoops (Arizona DC/DBs coach 2004-09) and North Texas’ Seth Littrell (Arizona OC/RB/TE coach 2009-11) as current head coaches in the FBS level. Another Stoops assistant, Eric Wolford (Arizona OL coach 2004-06), was the head coach at FCS Youngstown State for five years before Bo Pelini took over there.
With only 130 FBS programs out there, the fact that five of them will be led by guys that were on Stoops’ coaching staffs at Arizona is kind of astonishing. And Stoops himself is still the defensive coordinator at Playoff-bound Oklahoma after getting passed up for the head coaching gig there this summer when brother Bob suddenly retired.
It probably shouldn’t be lost on people that three of these five head coaches are now at schools in the state of Texas, somewhere that RichRod has finally returned Arizona’s recruiting efforts to this year.
Say what you will about Stoops, but he brought Arizona back from the dead, and did so with some really talented people around him and a smart way to go about it. He probably deserves a lot more credit around the Old Pueblo than most people are willing to give him.
And now he has his fingerprints all over the game of college football in some way. Crazy.