Update: Steve Sarkisian tells Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman Stoops will not be the choice as linebackers coach. "I'm really excited about who we're talking to," he said.
See tweet at bottom of the article.
If you can, lace up your walking shoes and take a trip down memory lane with me.
There was a time around the turn of the century when Mike Stoops was Enemy No. 1 for the Texas football program. His brother Bob's teams had the Longhorns' number, but it was Mike's defenses that really put the screws to the Texas offense. From 2000-03, all Oklahoma wins, Stoops's defenses limited Texas to 13.5 points per game -- all while Texas scored around 40 a game against everyone else.
That success allowed Stoops to get the Arizona head coaching job and, though he would eventually return to Oklahoma in 2012, the dynamic had changed. By 2018, Stoops was a Texas fan favorite, when Tom Herman's Longhorns dropped 48 on Stoops's defense. Lincoln Riley fired Stoops the following Monday. “I told Lincoln I was so sorry after (the) game,” Stoops toldThe Oklahoman at the time. “We hugged each other, and I said let’s talk tomorrow.”
Stoops spent the past two years incubating as an analyst at Nick Saban's Finishing School for Fired Coaches, re-tooling for the next job. Which happens to be at Texas.
AL.com reported Thursday night Stoops will be the linebackers coach on Steve Sarkisian's new Longhorns staff.
Once completed, Stoops would complete Sark's 10-man staff:
OC/OL: Kyle Flood
QBs: AJ Milwee
RBs: Stan Drayton
WRs: Andre Coleman
TEs/STC: Jeff Banks
DC: Pete Kwiatkowski
DL: Bo Davis
LBs: Mike Stoops
Safeties: Blake Gideon
CBs: Terry Joseph
It's likely Kwiatkowski will coach outside linebackers, leaving Stoops to handle inside 'backers. While Stoops has a wealth of experience leading an entire defense, his positional speciality in the past has been centered around defensive backs. He coached DBs in both his Oklahoma stints and at Kansas State before that. Stoops also coached defensive ends at K-State; the last time he handled linebackers specifically was at Iowa in 1991.
Stoops would be the fourth member of the 2020 Alabama coaching staff to don the burnt orange, joining Flood, Milwee, Banks, plus the head man himself.
While Sarkisian has reflected on how he's changed since his 2015 firing at USC, it will be interesting to see if Stoops's time in Tuscaloosa led him to evaluate his own approach. In addition to his failure to adapt to changing Big 12 offenses, Stoops's in-your-face coaching style was also part of the reason why his defenses struggled at Oklahoma. He talked about that in this exit interview with The Athleticin 2018:
You have alluded to this before, but why do you think you have had such a difficult time connecting with players today?
I think kids nowadays take things more personal, maybe don’t have the ability to take criticism as well as maybe back 15 years ago. It’s coaching; it’s not criticism. But I think they take it personally. The lack of trust is part of that, too. They need to know you’re out for their best interest, always. I think that’s the most important thing that kids have to know.
That’s where some of the disconnect comes. It would never be personal. No coaches want to yell just to yell. They’re coaching to teach and trying to make you understand the point. If you’re not precise in this game, you’re going to get lit up. Some kids think they’re being picked on or that coach doesn’t like me; well, it has nothing to do with that. It’s just about trying to put them in the best possible position for their own success.
You have to be a strong-minded person and you’d better have thick skin. Not everyone’s going to like you, but they’d better respect you and what your knowledge is and what you’re trying to teach.
I’m not out there running for prom king. That’s not what I’m there to do. I’m there to teach and get our players in the best position, and get them to understand why it has to be that way.
Clearly, Sarkisian believes Stoops can connect with players after working with him day-to-day over the past two years or he wouldn't have hired him in the first place.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.