There will be plenty of eyes on the end of Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry in the Big 12 Championship game on Saturday, but expect Youngstown, Ohio, to draw a high share of TV ratings.
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops share the hometown, graduating from Cardinal Mooney High School seven years apart.
Stoops' father, Ron Stoops, also coached both Bo Pelini and his brother, defensive coordinator Carl Pelini, at Cardinal Mooney.
"It’s a long relationship, of course. Both families, not just us. We’re both from large families. Brothers, sisters, we’re all intertwined, all friends, all went to school together," Bob Stoops said. "Our parents were good friends, so just very close family friends and of course through coaching, we’ve been around each other."
Bob Stoops and Carl Pelini have spent plenty of time together. In 1989, Pelini made the move from Cardinal Mooney to come on as a graduate assistant at Kansas State. Stoops coached defensive backs under Bill Snyder on the team, and opened his door for Pelini to live with him ... for awhile.
"Really, a long while," Stoops said.
Friendly rivalries aside, Stoops says personal pride won't play a factor on Saturday night, when the two coaches cross paths for the last time in the foreseeable future. They enter the game with a 1-1 record against each other -- making Saturday a proverbial rubber match.
"I don’t look at it that way. The good thing, one of us is going to win a Big 12 Championship, but there’s nothing whatsoever personal about it," Stoops said. "It’s teams it’s programs, that there’s so many different people involved with it, that that doesn’t really play into it for me."
Stoops says he has a feel for how the Pelini brothers operate, but plenty's changed since Bo Pelini last worked under Stoops, as the co-defensive coordinator at Oklahoma in 2004.
"You really know a team’s personality by watching them play so many games, and we break each other down with watching all the games that I don’t know that it’s a big deal, having coached with someone before or not, having a relationship with them," Stoops said. "In the end, we’ve been apart here for a good number of years. You evolve, you tailor your offense, your defense to your personnel, so you kind of evolve as you’re away from each other in different ways."
Stoops' brother, Mike Stoops, is the head coach at Arizona, and his other brother, Mark Stoops, is the defensive coordinator at Florida State, who Oklahoma beat earlier this year.
"I never envisioned, or had an idea, I'd be at Oklahoma or that how ironic it would be for Bo to be at Nebraska," Bob Stoops said. "I was very fortunate, as Bo was, to be around a lot of excellent coaches in our high school, a lot of great men that my father worked with that were around every day, that were very strong character guys that we got a chance to be around every day because my father had us around whenever we wanted to go to practice, had us around the locker rooms, and so we were fortunate to have been molded, without knowing it, around a lot of good people."