Toughness, passion and accountability define the University of Arizona's football program under seventh-year head coach Mike Stoops. And now, too, high-flying offense and the program's return to the bowl season and the national rankings.
Stoops' move from a more traditional offensive style to the spread attack in 2007 rekindled the firepower and the program came through with the postseason nod in 2008, winning the Las Vegas Bowl in dominating fashion over No. 17 Brigham Young. A trip to the Holiday Bowl followed in 2009 and last year Arizona capped its season with the Pac-10's return to the Alamo Bowl lineup.
College football experts have called him a defensive guru, with a style and knowledge that have produced some of the best defensive teams in college football history. Stoops has coached recipients of some of the most prestigious awards in college football -- Lombardi, Butkus, Nagurski and Thorpe award winners - including 2007's Thorpe winner and first-round NFL pick Antoine Cason.
At Arizona, his growth and proficiency in offensive football also has evolved, and his leadership of a top-level program has been developed and fine-tuned.
Stoops' tenure at Arizona has been marked by tireless recruiting and a work ethic unsurpassed by any in college football. His program's focus on personnel development is on par with any league team. The Wildcats under Stoops are tough, physical and focused, playing with the passion he has for winning.
Prior to Stoops' arrival in Tucson, he was involved in three major college football programs -- Iowa, Kansas State and Oklahoma. The common theme associated with the three coaching stops was winning football. During his 18 seasons with those programs, he helped compile a record of 158-48-4. He remains among those credited for the success of the three programs including the 2000 National Championship club at Oklahoma.
Stoops, is the 28th head football coach in Arizona's 108-year football history. The success of Arizona Football bears his stamp of leadership and strength, and will grow on the solid foundation he's built in Tucson.
Led Arizona to its third consecutive bowl berth in 2010, matching the school's best previous streak.
Kept fans in the stands with a seventh consecutive 50,000-plus average attendance, Arizona's best-ever streak. UA reached its third-highest single-season average in 2010 at 54,408.
Placed five players on the All-Pac-10 first and second units including Sports Illustrated All-American receiver Juron Criner, a first-team all-league pick.
Led Arizona to its highest regular-season ranking in 12 years, No. 9, in 2010. The Cats were in the polls for 11 weeks.
Led Arizona to a second-place finish in the Pac-10 in 2009, its highest finish in 11 seasons.
Returned Arizona to the national rankings in 2009, with the team ascending to No. 18 in November.
Coached the Wildcats to back-to-back eight-victory seasons in 2008 and 2009.
Helped lead the program's defense to consecutive years in the nation's Top 25 in total defense in 2008 and 2009.
Arizona's victory over No. 20 Southern California in 2009 gave Stoops victories over a ranked team in each of his six seasons in Tucson.
Helped Arizona record a sixth consecutive 50,000-plus per-game attendance figure, its best streak in the 30 years Arizona Stadium has been near its current capacity. The 2006 club attracted a record 390,589 fans for the second-best game average in UA history, 55,798.
Arizona has had 12 players selected in the NFL Draft the past four seasons after their development under Stoops' training systems.
Capped the University's first eight-win season in 10 years with a bowl victory over No. 17 BYU in the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl in 2008, and took UA to the Holiday Bowl in 2009.
Has coached in 17 bowl games and competed in four others as a player.
The Cats have beaten ranked teams each of his five seasons in Tucson including an unbeaten squad in 2005 and the potential No.1 club hours before that possibility in 2007.
Stoops added 2007 Jim Thorpe Award winner Antoine Cason to his long list of national award winners. Cason was a consensus All-American and later first-round pick by the San Diego Chargers. Moreover, he was a team spokesman and representative of the program from his first day onward.
The Cats had four first-team All-Pacific-10 honorees in 2007 and 2008, the most in five years. Younger players also continue to earn national All-Freshman honors in Stoops' program.
Arizona's recruiting classes have attracted high-level players each year of his tenure. Arizona competes for top players at every position and has attracted a number of Top 25 classes. Moreover, young players develop under his guidance.
Stoops' last three Arizona teams were 8-4 in November and December, playing their best ball at season's end
During Stoops' tenure as OU's defensive coordinator, the Sooners put together a 55-11 record, including the perfect 13-0 mark in 2000 when Oklahoma won its seventh national championship. He helped develop four 2005 NFL draft picks. OU appeared in five consecutive bowl games after a four-year drought. In 2002, the Sooners became the first Big 12 team to win the Rose Bowl, dispatching Washington State, 34-14.
The Sooners finished in the Top 10 in the national rankings four times in Stoops' five years on the staff.
In April 2004 three of Stoops OU players were selected in the NFL Draft, Tommie Harris in the first round, Teddy Lehman in the second round, and Derrick Strait in the third round.
Cornerback Derrick Strait won the Jim Thorpe and Bronko Nagurski awards, and defensive tackle Tommie Harris won the Lombardi Trophy in 2003.
Six Oklahoma players were named All-America in 2003, including three on Stoops' defensive units -- Strait, Harris and linebacker Teddy Lehman. Lehman was a finalist for the Butkus Award in 2002, and he won the Butkus Award in 2003.
Oklahoma netted a dozen Big 12 Conference All-Academic honors as well, including eight first-team selections and six by defensive players.
Stoops was a finalist for the 2001 American Football Coaches Association assistant coach of the year award. That year's Oklahoma club was fourth nationally in scoring defense and total defense, fifth in pass efficiency defense, seventh in rushing defense, 11th in passing defense and sixth in turnovers gained.
Stoops helped put a number of OU players into the National Football League in his final years in Norman, including 2000 linebacker Torrence Marshall, 2001 linebacker Rocky Calmus, 2001 linebacker Brandon Moore, 2001 safety Roy Williams, 2002 defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson and 2002 cornerback Andre Woolfolk. Williams won the Jim Thorpe and the Bronko Nagurski Awards in 2001.
Iowa went to five bowls in six years and won 10 games three times during Stoops' stint in Iowa City, including a 10-2 mark and Holiday Bowl victory over San Diego State in 1986, a 10-2 mark and Holiday Bowl victory over Wyoming in 1987, and a 10-2 mark and Holiday Bowl loss to Brigham Young in 1991.
Stoops coached on Kansas State teams that finished 9-2-1 in 1993, 9-3 in 1994, 10-2 in 1995, 9-3 in 1996, 11-1 in 1997 and 11-2 in his final year in 1998 when KSU won the Big 12 North Division title.
KSU put together a string of five consecutive bowl appearances in Stoops' final years on the staff.
Kansas State was one of only four schools to rank among the Division I-A top 10 in every major defensive category during 1998. In 1997, the KSU defense also stood fourth and fifth in total defense and pass efficiency defense.
The three programs he served before arriving at UA combined to post a brilliant record of 168-50-2. As an assistant coach Stoops was part of a winning percentage of .764
As a player at Iowa, Stoops earned United Press International first-team All-America honors as a defensive back in 1984. He was a two-time, first-team All-Big Ten selection in 1983-84, and led the Big Ten Conference in interceptions in 1983 as a junior with six in nine games.
Stoops played with the Chicago Bears and the Arena Football League's Pittsburgh Gladiators for a year after college graduation.
Mike Stoops' Coaching History 1986 Graduate assistant coach Iowa 1987 Graduate assistant coach Iowa 1988 Volunteer coach (LB/DB) Iowa 1989 Volunteer coach (LB/DB) Iowa 1990 Volunteer coach (LB/DB) Iowa 1991 Volunteer coach (LB/DB) Iowa 1992 Defensive ends coach Kansas State 1993 Defensive ends coach Kansas State 1994 Defensive ends coach Kansas State 1995 Defensive ends coach Kansas State 1996 Co-defensive coordinator/DE Kansas State 1997 Co-defensive coordinator/DB Kansas State 1998 Assistant head coach; DC/DB Kansas State 1999 Associate head coach; DC/DB Oklahoma 2000 Associate head coach; DC/DB Oklahoma 2001 Associate head coach; DC/DB Oklahoma 2002 Associate head coach; DC/DB Oklahoma 2003 Associate head coach; DC/DB Oklahoma 2004 Head Coach (3-8) Arizona 2005 Head Coach (3-8) Arizona 2006 Head Coach (6-6) Arizona 2007 Head Coach (5-7) Arizona 2008 Head Coach (8-5) Arizona 2009 Head Coach (8-5) Arizona 2010 Head Coach (7-6) Arizona 2011 Head Coach Arizona Head Coaching Record: 40-45
Mike Stoops in bowl games 2010 Alamo Bowl Arizona head coach 2009 Holiday Bowl Arizona head coach 2008 Las Vegas Bowl Arizona head coach 2003 Sugar Bowl Oklahoma coordinator 2002 Rose Bowl Oklahoma coordinator 2001 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma coordinator 2000 Orange Bowl Oklahoma coordinator 1999 Independence Bowl Oklahoma coordinator 1998 Alamo Bowl Kansas State coordinator 1997 Fiesta Bowl Kansas State co-coordinator 1996 Cotton Bowl Kansas State co coordinator 1994 Aloha Bowl Kansas State assistant 1993 Copper Bowl Kansas State assistant 1991 Holiday Bowl Iowa volunteer assistant 1990 Rose Bowl Iowa volunteer assistant 1988 Peach Bowl Iowa volunteer assistant 1987 Holiday Bowl Iowa graduate assistant 1984 Freedom Bowl Iowa player 1983 Gator Bowl Iowa player 1982 Peach Bowl Iowa player 1982 Rose Bowl Iowa player
Mike Stoops' All-Americans & NFL athletes DT Earl Mitchell (UA) Houston '09 TE Rob Gronkowski (UA) New England '09 OT Eben Britton (UA) Jacksonville `08 WR Mike Thomas (UA) Jacksonville `08 CB Antoine Cason (UA) San Diego `08 LB Spencer Larsen (UA) Denver `08 CB Wilrey Fontenot (UA) Atlanta `08 SS Michael Johnson (UA) New York `07 WR Syndric Steptoe (UA) Cleveland `07 DE Copeland Bryan (UA) Buffalo `07 RB Chris Henry (UA) Tennessee `06 PK Nick Folk (UA) Dallas `07 CB Mike Hawkins (OU) Green Bay `05 SS Donte Nicholson (OU) Tampa Bay `05 CB Antonio Perkins (OU) Cleveland `05 SS Brodney Pool (OU) Cleveland `05 DT Tommie Harris (OU) Chicago '04 LB Tedy Lehman (OU) Detroit '04 CB Derrick Strait (OU) New York Jets '04 DE Jimmy Wilkerson (OU) Kansas City '03 CB Andre Woolfolk (OU) Tennessee '03 LB Rocky Calmus (OU) Tennessee '02 LB Brandon Moore (OU) San Diego '02 FS Roy Williams (OU) Dallas '02 LB Torrance Marshall (OU) Green Bay '01 DE Darren Howard (KSU) New Orleans '00 DT Damion McIntosh (KSU) San Diego '00 CB William Bartee (OU) Kansas City '00 LB Jeff Kelly (KSU) Atlanta '99 CB Chris Canty (KSU) New England '97 LB DeShawn Fogle (KSU) Philadelphia '97
The Mike Stoops File Arizona Head Coach Career Record: 40-45, seven years Birthdate: Dec. 13, 1961, Youngstown, Ohio Hometown: Youngstown, Ohio High School: Cardinal Mooney, Youngstown, Ohio College: University of Iowa, 1986 Playing Experience: University of Iowa, safety, 1981-84 Family: Daughter, Payton; son, Colton