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OU's Stoops named new UA head football coach

By Shane Dale
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Saturday, November 29, 2003

Oklahoma co-defensive coordinator Mike Stoops is Arizona's new head football coach, UA athletics director Jim Livengood announced today.

Stoops, brother of Sooners head coach Bob Stoops, has served as an OU assistant coach since 1999. He helped lead Oklahoma to the 2000 NCAA National Championship and has coached in 13 bowl games since 1987 as an assistant with Oklahoma, Kansas State and Iowa.

Stoops said he sees his new position as a chance to rebuild a once nationally dominant football team into a contender, particularly on defense.

"We would love to restore the passion that the Desert Swarm defenses of the '90s created," Stoops said. "We want that type of attitude and toughness on this football team, and in order to be successful, that is going to be paramount."

Boasting a 55-9 record in his five seasons with Oklahoma, Stoops said he plans on bringing the same winning mentality to Tucson.

"The type of football team that I envision here at Arizona is one that has a winning attitude," Stoops said. "To me, that is everything. You have to want to win, you have to know how to win and you have to expect to win. Every time that one of our teams has taken the field, we expected to win, and that will not change here starting next year at Arizona."

Livengood, along with a 12-member head coach search committee, chose Stoops over New York Giants defensive coordinator Johnnie Lynn, Cincinnati Bengals linebackers coach Ricky Hunley, Southern California offensive coordinator Norm Chow and interim UA head coach Mike Hankwitz.

Livengood said the decision to hire Stoops was made Wednesday.

Though Hankwitz was not granted the permanent head coaching position with the Wildcats, Livengood thanked him for the job he performed at the UA's helm for the final seven games of the 2003 season.

"I don't think there are enough Mike Hankwitzes around in college athletics or college football," Livengood said. "He's a good person, a good football coach and a wonderful representative of the University of Arizona, so I want to make sure everyone knows how special we think he is."

While he remained silent as to whether or not Hankwitz would have a job at the UA next season, Stoops said he and Hankwitz have been friends for years and would likely speak to him within the next 24 hours.

Livengood expressed as much admiration for Stoops as he did for Arizona's interim head coach.

"He is a tremendous fit for this university, for this program, and for this community. He is what it's all about." Livengood said.

UA President Pete Likins also expressed confidence in the 41-year-old Stoops.

"(The Arizona football program) is about building an experience and developing an experience for these athletes, for these young men who come here to develop themselves in a total way as athletes, as students, as human beings and Mike Stoops can do that job," Likins said. "He clearly understands how to develop young men young men who can function effectively on the field but young men who can also meet their responsibilities as students and meet their responsibilities as human beings."

Stoops said he will return to Norman, Okla. tomorrow morning to rejoin the Sooners, and will begin his head coaching duties in Tucson following next week's Big 12 Championship game between Oklahoma and Kansas State.

Stoops will be absent for Oklahoma's final game of the season, likely to be for the national championship at the Nokia Sugar Bowl in January.

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