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Mike Stoops: 'I'm on my way to Oklahoma'; Could Brent Venables be leaving for West Virginia?

BY MIKE BALDWIN AND TRAVIS HANEY, Staff Writers,; Modified: January 12, 2012 at 11:58 am •  Published: January 12, 2012

So did family.

“To be able to do it with your brother is even more exciting,” he said. “We’ve certainly had a great relationship. I loved my time working there. I love the guys I’ll be able to work with.

“To be able to work with Brent, Bobby Jack (Wright) and Jackie (Shipp) is even more exciting.”

Mike Stoops was fired Oct. 10 after 7 1/2 seasons as the head coach at Arizona. He had taken the Wildcats to bowl games the past three seasons, but then the program ran into a buzz saw to begin the 2011 season.

They were manhandled in consecutive weeks by Oklahoma State, Stanford, Oregon and Southern Cal — teams that finished in the top eight of the final Associated Press poll. The Wildcats started 1-5, and Mike Stoops was out of a job.

With some idle time, he hung around his old stomping grounds in Norman. He attended the Oct. 22 game against Texas Tech, a stunning loss that halted OU’s 39-game home win streak and battered the Sooners’ national title dreams.

He again appeared on the OU sideline for the team’s Dec. 30 Insight Bowl victory against Iowa in Tempe, Ariz. Bob Stoops downplayed his brother’s visit, saying it was mostly due to the location of the game.

The next day, though, he said he would like to bring Mike back “in the right circumstances.” That included finding a spot for him. Willie Martinez’s name was connected to openings at Auburn, Illinois and Kansas, but he has yet to land one of those jobs. Martinez, the secondary coach the past two seasons, is expected to be the odd man out in the moves.

The Big 12 has changed since Mike Stoops last coached at OU, evolving into a quarterback-heavy and pass-happy league.

He countered that he saw much of the same in the Pac-10, which last season became the Pac-12.

Arizona’s defenses were ranked in the top 35 from 2008-2010, but they were struggling mightily in October when the staff change came about.

It was a sore spot in Oklahoma, too. OU gave up 241.5 passing yards a game in 2011, 79th in the country. Breakdowns in the secondary were chiefly to blame in the losses to Texas Tech and Baylor. The Sooners gave up a whopping 931 passing yards in those games.

“Those offenses are very difficult (to defend),” Mike Stoops said. “They use the entire space on the field. That’s what offenses are doing now. Making you defend the entire field is difficult.

“You have a lot of one-on-one matchups. Obviously, you have to be very strong in the secondary.”


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