After eight hard years in the desert, Mike Stoops loves being a Sooner again

Stoops said he never felt comfortable at Arizona, even when the Wildcats had success.
by Berry Tramel Published: July 30, 2012

NORMAN – Mike Stoops misses some things about being a head coach.

He's like the rest of us. “I'd rather give orders than take them,” Stoops said with a smile.

It's good to have him back. Seems like old times. Same bluntness. Same honesty. Same passion.

A little hardened and a little humbled by eight years in the desert, trying to turn University of Arizona football into something it's never been, but now Stoops has returned to the campus where he'll have to take orders, but only from big brother Bob.

“This was my first choice,” Mike Stoops said about finding another job after ‘Zona fired him last autumn. “To me, this is a place that's very special. This is a place where you can win championships.”

Can and have. Mike Stoops coordinated the Sooners' 2000 national championship defense and now is commissioned to do the same, starting with the 2012 season, which starts Friday when the Sooners report.

OU fans clamored for his return. And Stoops was glad to be back.

“I never felt that stable at Arizona,” Stoops said. “I hung in there and fought the good fight. Even through our success, I never felt at ease.”

Stoops had his moments. The Wildcats were 8-5 in both 2008 and 2009, then got off to a 7-1 start and reached No. 13 in the AP poll. But ‘Zona lost its final five games of that season, then five of its first six games of 2011, and Stoops was fired, with an overall record of 41-50.

“A hard eight years,” Stoops said. “Really, really hard.”

Arizona's facilities fell behind most of the Pac-10's. Stoops compared them to a Mountain West school.

Arizona had some success under Larry Smith and Dick Tomey in the ‘80s and ‘90s. But it hasn't made a Rose Bowl in its 34 years in the Pac-10/12; ‘Zona's last outright conference title came in the Border Conference, in 1941.

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