NORMAN — Bo Pelini often thinks of his Youngstown days. Those families and coaches and teachers who made that rusty patch of Ohio so special. Made it Mayberry North.
The Nebraska football coach often thinks of the father of his pal, the father of his rival today on Owen Field. Pelini often thinks of Ron Stoops Sr.
You rarely catch Bob Stoops in a reflective mood. But he’ll usually make an exception for his hometown, and tonight’s Youngstown Bowl, a Big Red matchup of coaches from Cardinal Mooney High School, offers more tales about the people and place that so impacted Oklahoma.
Pelini, 40, grew up friends with Mark Stoops, the youngest of the brothers. He coached with Bob at OU in 2004. Pelini still talks regularly with Ron Stoops Jr., who is coaching back at Cardinal Mooney.
Pelini sees the father in the sons.
"Everybody liked him, everybody respected him,” Pelini said.
Ron Sr. coached his boys and the Pelini boys at Cardinal Mooney, where he was defensive coordinator for 23 years, before he died in 1988 of a heart attack at age 54.
"Great family man,” Pelini said. "Devoted husband. Great person. Great role model.
"Great to be around. He used to play with us in gym class.