Ohio's contribution of great coaches to American football is well documented. But this is getting ridiculous. Youngstown's Bob Stoops squares off with Akron's Gary Pinkel in the Big 12 title game Saturday night in San Antonio, but Ohio's imprint on 2007 college football goes far deeper. Five of the BCS' top 10 teams are led by Ohio-bred coaches. All five come from the Rust Belt area surrounding Cleveland and Pittsburgh, and two more come from the same area, just across state lines. Ohio State's Jim Tressel is from the Cleveland suburb of Berea. LSU's Les Miles is from the Cleveland suburb of Elyria. Florida's Urban Meyer comes from Ashtabula, which is east of Cleveland up Lake Erie. Youngstown is close to all those ports: 50 miles from Akron, 57 miles from Ashtabula, 73 miles from Berea, 87 miles from Elyria. Youngstown is even closer to New Castle, Pa., home of Kansas coach Mark Mangino. And not too far away is Farmington, W.Va., home of West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez and 98 miles south of Pittsburgh. What in the name of Friday Night Lights is going on? "I don't know what to say, other than it's awfully important up there,” Stoops said this week of football in Ohio in general and the Rust Belt in particular. "You go to games, it's packed. All of 'em got a great following.” This is nothing new, by the way. Notre Dame legend Ara Parseghian is from Akron, which is just south of Cleveland. Michigan legend Bo Schembechler was from Barberton, just south of Akron. Cleveland Browns legend Paul Brown is from Massillon, just south of Barberton. Ohio State legend Woody Hayes is from Newcomerstown, just south of Massillon. Lou Holtz is from East Liverpool, which is just south of Youngstown, halfway between Massillon and Pittsburgh. The lesson is clear. Get your football players wherever you want. California, Texas, Florida. But get your coaches from Ohio.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, right, and Missouri coach Gary Pinkel are both from Ohio. Stoops is from Youngstown, while Pinkel is from Akron. by STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN