Mike Stoops, the younger brother of Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops, was introduced Saturday as the new head coach at Arizona and promised a return to the glory days of bowl games and all-out defense.
"We're going to be ready to play when we start in September," he said. "We're going to have a defense that attacks people from a bunch of different ways, and we're going to have an offense that's going to spread people out and make them defend the whole field."
The younger Stoops, the top-ranked Sooners' co-defensive coordinator, takes over a team that went 2-10 and finished last in the Pacific 10 Conference.
But Stoops, 41, said good coaches can win anywhere, a view reinforced by his six years as an assistant at Kansas State, a former have-not that has become a perennial bowl team. He cited Washington State as an example of what can be done in the intensely competitive Pac-10.
The secret, he said, is instilling a winning attitude in the players and coaching preparation. Stoops said Arizona has the facilities, attractiveness and athletes to reverse its string of four losing seasons.
"Every team I've ever been associated with has been as well-prepared as any team we played," he said.
Stoops is Arizona's 28th head coach, and the youngest since Larry Smith (40) in 1980.
"He's worked hard and deserves this," Bob Stoops said. "He's more than prepared for it."
Given the upheaval in the program under former coach John Mackovic and the contrast with the successful men's basketball program, Athletic Director Jim Livengood wanted to make sure he had the right man.
He said Oklahoma basketball Coach Kelvin Sampson, a friend of Livengood's from their time together at Washington State, recommended Stoops two years ago.
Stoops will help coach Oklahoma in its Big 12 title game against Kansas State on Saturday but will return to Tucson after that and not stay with the Sooners for their bowl game.
Nick Holt, USC's linebackers coach, was contacted again by Idaho officials Saturday and said he may interview for the school's head coaching job Tuesday.
North Texas Coach Darrell Dickey was regarded as the leading candidate, but Holt is thought to be one of three other finalists for the job, which came open when Tom Cable was fired last week.
Holt, 41, was an assistant at Idaho from 1990 to '97 and served as defensive coordinator his last four years there.
"I'm one of those guys who wants to get into that arena [of being a head coach]," said Holt, who was initially contacted by Idaho last Tuesday. "I wouldn't be talking to them if I didn't like the people who are there."
Mississippi State offered its head coaching position to Green Bay Packer assistant Sylvester Croom and he promised a decision by early this week, ESPN.com reported.
Croom, 48, would be the first African-American head football coach in the Southeastern Conference.
Staff writer Gary Klein contributed to this report.
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'Cats' Cradle of Coaches
Arizona football coaches since 1914:
*--* Coach Years Record J.F. McKale 1914-17, 1919-30 80-32-6 Fred A. Enke 1931 3-5-1 A.W. Farwick 1932 4-5-0 G.A. Oliver 1933-37 32-11-4 Orian M. Landreth 1938 3-6-0 Miles W. Casteel 1939-42, 1945-48 45-26-3 Robert E. Winslow 1949-51 12-18-1 Warren Woodson 1952-56 26-22-1 Edward A. Doherty 1957-58 4-15-1 Jim LaRue 1959-66 41-37-2 Darrell Mudra 1967-68 11-9-1 Robert W. Weber 1969-72 16-26-0 James C. Young 1973-76 31-13-0 Tony Mason 1977-79 16-18-1 Larry Smith 1980-86 48-28-3 Dick Tomey 1987-2000 95-64-4 John Mackovic 2001-03 10-18 Mike Hankwitz 2003 1-6
Note: Arizona had nine coaches in 13 seasons before McKale. Source: Arizona football media guide.
-- Steve Galluzzo