Pac-12: Ruffin McNeill

How will Stoops replace his brother?

December, 12, 2009
12/12/09
11:12
AM ET
A Stoops has done well in Florida in the past.

[+] EnlargeMark Stoops
Kirby Lee/WireImage.comMark Stoops will join FSU's staff following the Holiday Bowl.
Bob Stoops paired with Steve Spurrier to win a 1996 national title. Then he got the head job at Oklahoma and won one for himself.

Mark Stoops was hired Friday to be Florida State's defensive coordinator under transitioning head coach Jimbo Fisher, thereby ending the successful tandem he had with head coach -- and brother -- Mike at Arizona.

Stoops was a top candidate for the head-coaching job at Youngstown State, but he likely sees this as the best step for him toward one day getting a chance to lead his own BCS conference program. This allows him to step out of his brother's shadow and to move into a football hotbed where there are more future job opportunities.

Mark Stoops will remain with Arizona until after the Wildcats play Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30.

It will be interesting to see what Mike Stoops does next. With his brother, the Wildcats' defense was "in the family." The issue with the next coordinator will be whether he's asked to retain the Stoops system, which has been very effective through the years, or will he have the autonomy to bring in his own system. Keep in mind Mike Stoops is an old defensive coordinator himself, so it could be a challenge for him to keep his fingers out of the batter.

Not to mention it's his program.

Another element to consider is the Wildcats will be rebuilding on defense. They lose seven starters, including all three linebackers. Ends Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed -- probably the best tandem in the conference in 2010 -- will be a good starting foundation, and Stoops has recruited well, but there will be unformed clay for a new guy to work with.

In other words, it won't be a bad year to tweak the system because a lot of guys won't have much experience in the old system.

Stoops may promote from within -- linebackers coach and assistant head coach Tim Kish might be a possibility.

Other names to think about include Boise State's Justin Wilcox, Utah's Kalani Sitake, Air Force's Tim DeRuyter, Texas Tech's Ruffin McNeill or perhaps former Arizona linebacker Ricky Hunley.

The guess here is that Stoops, considering his family connections, has plenty of names in his rolodex.

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