Oklahoma football: Bob Stoops’ Kent State year
Sometimes, like Hollywood, we condense the Bob Stoops story. For the purpose of conciseness, we make the Bob Stoops/Iowa/Bill Snyder connection uninterrupted. But there was a nine-month period when Stoops worked for neither Hayden Fry nor Snyder.
When Stoops was 27, he took his first full-time job, at Kent State. Stoops coached at Kent for a season, then was hired by Snyder.
And Kent State prepared Stoops for what he would face at Kansas State. Kent State was in many ways a mid-major Kansas State. Kent State entered the major-college division in 1962. Kent won the Mid-American Conference in 1972 under coach Don James, who would leave two years later for Washington, where he turned the Huskies into a national power. After James’ departure, his successor, Dennis Fitzgerald, had two winning seasons. In 1987, Glen Mason coached Kent to a winning record. And that’s it. In 38 seasons since James’ departure, Kent State has had three winning seasons.
Stoops would know all about Kent, having grown up in Youngstown, 41 miles east. Kent State is a huge university, with eight campuses, including 27,000 students in Kent. It’s a school scarred by the 1970s shootings of Vietnam War protesters by Ohio National Guardsmen.
Stoops was hired by Dick Crum, who had just gotten the Kent job. Mason had been hired away by Kansas, and Crum had just been fired by North Carolina, despite a 72-41-3 record in 10 years on Tobacco Road. Crum hired Stoops to coach the secondary. In their one year together, 1988, Kent went 5-6. Then Stoops went to Kansas State with Snyder — and Kent went 0-11 and 2-9 the next two years, and Crum was fired.
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