Stoops brothers cut from the same coaching mold

Maybe it was the four brothers sharing one room.<BR> Maybe it was the film sessions projected on the family refrigerator.<BR> Maybe it's just the culture of Ohio.<BR> Whatever it was, the Stoops brothers of Youngstown, Ohio were weaned on football, and right now they're among the hottest commodities in the game. Ron, Bob, Mike and Mark all coach football, as their father did before them. All four were standouts at Cardinal-Mooney High School, but the love of the game began even earlier.

It led to all four being high school stars. Three of the four went on to play college ball at Iowa. As coaches, the tradition continues.

"We were born to a working class family," said Ron Stoops, the oldest of the Stoops brothers. "Our father was a coach and teacher. We lived in a small bungalow with the four boys shoved into a bedroom. The whole upstairs was one bedroom that we all shared."

The four brothers were always around the game. Dad would watch film with his sons and take them around the players and the field. Unlike most boys who watch football with their dads on weekends, the Stoops brothers lived it.

"My dad was an accomplished coach in his own right," Stoops said. "We were always around the game. It is what we grew up with. Dad was a great defensive coach at the high school level and we all kind of took to it."

Ron paved the way for the football-playing brothers, but it was Bob who has reaped the greatest success to date. Ron was a very good high school player, but Bob, now Oklahoma's head coach, was the first to go the extra mile and yearn for something more than prep stardom.

"Bob had more drive and passion," Stoops confessed. "He worked harder and had that goal of being more than a high school player. In high school he was 160 pounds and next thing you know he's going to play at Iowa, and the rest is history.

"Mike is the same. Nobody is more like Bob than Mike. We're all very similar, but they are the most alike."

Mike and Mark followed in their brother's footsteps and attended Iowa on football scholarships. Like Bob, they later moved on to the coaching ranks.

Meanwhile, Ron followed the path of his father and remained in Youngstown as a high school coach. Despite the brothers being in three different states, they remain very close.

"Every summer we go to a lake and rent a house," Stoops said. "We could each rent a house, but we like to share one big house."

The eldest Stoops brother has nothing but praise for all three of his younger brothers. He can't compliment one without referencing the others. A discussion of Mike's defenses at Oklahoma quickly turns into a discussion of the pass defenses Mark has coached at Miami.

As proud as he is of his brothers' accomplishments on the gridiron, Ron's more impressed with them as people. He was quick to point out that despite their varied lifestyles, the brothers have many of the same friends.

Ron and Mike have not spoken specifically about the Arizona job, but have discussed Mike's desire to be a head coach. He knows his younger brother would like to run his own program, but isn't consumed by the idea.

"We talk about it periodically," Ron said. "I think the time is right. He's been quietly waiting, doing everything he needs to do to get his own job."

The brothers' close bond is apparent. Ron's affection for his younger brothers is obvious.

"All of us are very similar," Stoops said. "We all have great faith and love of family. We all have great intensity and that comes out on the sidelines."

When asked about Mike specifically, the tone remained the same.

"Mike's a great defensive coordinator. He was a great player and I think he'll be a great head coach. More importantly, Mike's a great person, a great husband and father. These are the things we are most proud of. Arizona is lucky to have him."


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