Stoops Set to Join Star-Studded Staff in Columbus?
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Less than a week after the blockbuster hire of vc head coach Urban Meyer, Ohio State is on the verge of adding another big name to the staff in Columbus.
Since agreeing to a 6-year, $24 million deal with the Buckeyes on Monday, Meyer has been hard at work recruiting for his new university. His biggest commitment may be on the way in the form of a new defensive coordinator.
Sources have confirmed that former Arizona head coach Mike Stoops could be on the verge of signing a multi-year contract to coach the Silver Bullets under Meyer and alongside interim head coach Luke Fickell.
Stoops, who coached the defense under his brother Bob at the University of Oklahoma from 1999-2003, was in Columbus this week to meet with Meyer. He has not commented publically on whether he has been offered a job on the Buckeyes' staff, but it is clear this was more than just two Ohio guys getting together for a cup of coffee.
“I don't comment on that stuff,” Stoops told The Oklahoman on Thursday.
“But I can confirm that I have visited with coach Meyer.”
The nature of that visit was business, and Meyer has a proven track record of getting his man, or at least doing everything in his power to make it happen. When he took his first head-coaching job at Bowling Green back in 2001, Meyer called one potential assistant three times a day for three months.
That coach was Meyer’s friend, Mickey Marotti, who eventually became his Director of Strength and Conditioning at Florida. At the time Marotti was the strength coach at Notre Dame, where he had worked with Meyer, but he wasn’t ready to give up that kind of gig to work in the Mid-American Conference.
When Meyer came calling four years later, Marotti was ready to join him in Gainesville. Now he may be following Meyer back to Columbus, where the two worked together as graduate assistants in 1987.
“That would be a big loss for Florida,” a source said.
“He is one of the best at what he does.”
The same goes for Stoops, who coached a top-10 defense during each of his five seasons in Norman. That included Oklahoma’s perfect 13-0 season in 2000 when they won a seventh national championship.
The Sooners allowed just 14.9 points per game that season and held Florida State’s offense scoreless in a 13-2 Orange Bowl victory.
“Coaching defense has always been my passion,” Stoops told The Oklahoman.
“You get very close to the defense. If the right opportunity presents itself, and it's a good arrangement, I would certainly be excited about it.”
That opportunity appears to have presented itself in Columbus, where Stoops would work under Meyer and alongside Fickell, who will coach the Buckeyes in their bowl game.
Fickell was told he would have a major role on Meyer’s staff, but the fact he was not named the outright defensive coordinator leaves the door open for Ohio State to add a big name like Stoops, who was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio.
If and when the two sides can agree on a deal, Stoops would likely become the defensive coordinator at Ohio State with Fickell serving as the a co-defensive coordinator, a role he shared with Jim Heacock on Jim Tressel's coaching staff from 2005-10.
In this scenario it is also likely that Fickell would serve as Meyer’s assistant head coach, and probably a positional coach on defense, although there is serious talk about Meyer retaining linebackers coach Mike Vrabel.
Vrabel was on the short list of current assistants Meyer wanted to evaluate after taking the job. Sources confirmed that he already has plans to keep assistant Stan Drayton on the new coaching staff, along with possibly Taver Johnson, who has coached the cornerbacks at Ohio State since 2007.
Drayton will likely be moved back coaching running backs after one season working with the receivers, which would leave three or four more spots available on offense. Former Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster could be in line to fill one of those spots.
According to The Austin Statesman, Brewster has been offered a position on Meyer’s staff, as well as that of Rich Rodriguez at Arizona. Brewster was a bright recruiter for Mack Brown at both North Carolina (1989-97) and Texas (’98-2001), where he helped recruit Vince Young out of the Houston area.
A former tight end himself at the University of Illinois, Brewster would go on to coach the tight ends for five seasons in the NFL. He worked to develop Antonio Gates in San Diego before spending two years with the Denver Broncos under Mike Shanahan.
With his star on the rise, Brewster was tabbed by Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi to replace Glen Mason as the Gophers head coach in 2007. He was only 15-30 in Minneapolis, including 6-21 in the Big Ten, before his contract was terminated in October.
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