Tim Kish was weighing a few professional possibilities when one suddenly popped up at Oklahoma. In his eighth year as an Arizona assistant coach, he was promoted to interim head coach when Mike Stoops was fired in October. Hired earlier this week as the Sooners linebackers coach, Kish will again work with Stoops. The 57-year-old spoke Thursday to The Oklahoman about the transition. Kish said he has introduced himself to his linebackers. He plans to meet with them together, for the first time, on Friday.
You arrive with the reputation of being a solid recruiter. Could you explain how you're unique to that description and what you think is important in the recruiting process?
“I think there are a lot of good recruiters out there. For me, it's building relationships with people and establishing friendships with the prospects, themselves, or whoever might be the champion in that family, the moms or dads or aunts or uncles. For the most part with me, you get what you see. I'm very honest about where I've represented, where I've been and what we've done.
“I'm tireless at doing what I do. I enjoy being in homes, talking with the kids. Now, I understand, too, the amount of work that goes into it. I think people are looking for genuine people to be around. It's going to be easy for me to sell the University of Oklahoma and Coach Stoops.”
To that end, it can only help you, right, that you're at a school now with the resources that a school like OU has?
“I've been at schools that are traditionally schools that need to be worked up from the bottom up. When you get those programs turned around, that's very rewarding for everyone involved. In our profession, we call it the haves and have nots. This is a place that's a have. For me, to be a part of Oklahoma – its tradition, its future – that's something that, in its own right, that's very, very exciting for me to be involved with.”
How much of a surprise was this, really, to land here? Even with Mike coming back, it still seemed for a while as if Brent Venables would stay.
“Oh, I never thought that for a minute this would happen. I understand where Brent's coming from. I've known Brent for years, because of the interactions between the staffs. He's a great guy. He did an excellent job here, I know that. For him, at that time, when he made his decision, he felt it was best for him and his family. It was hard for anyone to predict that might happen. I had been in conversation with both Mike and Bob. I knew there was a possibility of this coming to fruition, but you never know until it actually happens.”
After your interim stint ended, and Rich Rodriguez was hired, did you have other job opportunities? Were you considering other things when OU came along?
“I was involved in several other situations. The timing of everything is always critical. There was no decision that needed to be made. I was waiting to see what might happen here. There was no other option that came close to this option here.”
Could you describe what Mike's excitement level is, being back here and again working with his brother?
“I know he's on cloud nine. (laughs) I say that, but I've only been around him a couple of hours since I was hired. He's been on the road (recruiting). I know he's excited. He's got a lot of pride in what he does. His expectations will be high, as will mine. We're excited to see where we can take this defense from here.”
What did you enjoy about working with Mike in Arizona?
“There were a lot of things I enjoyed. He and Bob are very similar in a lot of ways, their passion for the game, their desire for excellence. I don't know if they're two peas in a pod, but their intentions are the same. I love being around a guy who is passionate about what he does. He's a tremendous, tremendous mind in football. He's got a real bead on our players and understanding what their needs are. I learned a lot from Mike in those eight years.”
What was it like to take over that program when it was in turmoil, with Mike out and half the season remaining? What did you take from that? (The Wildcats went 3-3 under Kish, after a 1-5 start.)
“That was an interesting experience. It was a curveball in life, for sure. I was trying to teach a little bit about adversity. Adversity introduces a man to himself, was my mantra going forward to the team. It was a great start there in the beginning (a 48-12 win against UCLA).
“In the end, I know we learned that lesson. I know these seniors were able to hold their heads high and know that they accomplished something in the end of the season. But, really, it was all under the guise of what Mike had done in the first 7 1/2 years. I was just being the loyal soldier and guiding the troops at that point. It was an experience for me, though, that I'll cherish for the rest of my life.”