BREAKING: OU announces Mike Stoops hiring, Martinez’s departure
CAMPUS CORNER — It’s finally official. Mike Stoops is in. Willie Martinez is out. Brent Venables is in, for now.
Here’s the release from OU.
I find it interesting that Martinez leaving is, for some reason, played up and Mike Stoops’ coming on board is kind of pushed down the page. Seems to me the Sooners, in an effort of goodwill, buried the lead.
NORMAN, Okla. – Oklahoma Head Football Coach Bob Stoops announced changes to his staff today. Defensive backs coach Willie Martinez has resigned to pursue another position and Mike Stoops will fill the vacancy on the staff and also serve as co-defensive coordinator with Brent Venables.
“Willie has some attractive options and is going to pursue them,” Bob Stoops said. “I appreciate all of Willie’s work here. He represented our program in the right way and will continue to do well in our profession.”
Martinez, while looking ahead, said he was grateful for his time at OU.
“I’ve been presented with some professional opportunities that I want to pursue,” he said. “In leaving Oklahoma, I want to convey my thanks and appreciation to Joe Castiglione, Bob Stoops, the football staff, our players and the Sooner fans. OU has a great football tradition and I am pleased that I’ve had the opportunity to coach here and meet a number of wonderful people. I certainly wish the Sooners all the best going forward.”
Mike Stoops, the younger brother of OU’s head coach, returns to Oklahoma where he coached from 1999-2003 while working with the Sooner secondary. The move will reunite Mike Stoops with Brent Venables, OU’s Associate Head Coach. The two previously served as co-defensive coordinators and authored some of the nation’s best defenses.
“Mike and Brent have a long history and comfort level working together, and have together led some great defenses,” Bob Stoops said.
When Mike Stoops left Oklahoma at the end of the 2003 season, it was to become the head coach at Arizona. He led the Wildcats to a school-record three consecutive bowl appearance and saw his teams post 84 program records.
“We feel very fortunate to have Mike on our staff. Over the past few months, because of the reputation he has built among his peers, he was a highly sought-after coach,” said Bob Stoops. “People across the country recognize his tremendous knowledge of the game and great energy. He will have a very positive impact on our program.”
For Mike, the move is a natural as he returns to Norman where he helped direct a 2000 team that won the national championship with a record of 13-0.
“Obviously, it’s very comfortable to come back to Oklahoma,” he said. “Bob and Brent and I grew up in the profession together and all of that feels very good.”
Individual players under Mike Stoops’ direction excelled during his previous tenure. Roy Williams and Derrick Strait, both defensive backs, became the only players to win both the Nagurski (best defensive player) and Thorpe (best defensive back) Awards in the same season. He observed that players of that caliber often translate into team success.
“You’ve got a chance to win every time you step on the field at Oklahoma,” Mike said. “It’s one of the best situations in all of college football.”
But it’s not necessarily the same Mike Stoops who coached at OU earlier.
“You grow and mature as a person and I believe my experience at Arizona has helped me become a better coach,” he said. “We had to fight through a lot to accomplish several good things, and I grew a lot through that process.”
Mike said that his first priorities are to put a strong finish on the recruiting period and then to meet a new group of players. The recruiting process has already begun.
“Mike and Brent were out the door recruiting together within two hours of Mike’s hiring so we’re off to a good start,” Bob Stoops said.
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