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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“New year, new Stoops”

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It didn’t take Arizona head coach Mike Stoops long to gain a reputation. From the moment he took over as head coach seven years ago, Stoops quickly took on the role of the intense and temperamental tyrant.

Any time there’s a questionable call, Stoops is face to face with the referee. If a player drops a pass, misses a tackle or blows an assignment, Stoops explodes. With his face beet red, Stoops lets his players know where they went wrong.

The animated head coach’s sideline antics are must-see-TV every Saturday, and the nation has taken notice. Although his actions are entertaining to say the least, the national perception of Stoops isn’t a positive one, and he’s out to change that.

“”I think sometimes if I have to make the changes necessary I will because I feel like I’m a good person and I treat people fairly,”” Stoops said. “”I expect a great deal in certain situations, and when it’s not taken care of, that’s my responsibility to get it corrected.””

Stoops is well aware that he’s seen as a hot-head, and said “”it came to light after the Stanford game,”” which the Wildcats lost 42-17. He made it clear that he’s never been reprimanded by Pacific 10 Conference commissioner Larry Scott, and only owns one personal foul over the course of his seven years.

But if he has to settle down a bit on the sidelines to reshape that reputation, he’s willing to do so. During his Tuesday-morning press conference he spoke at length about how Arizona doesn’t only need to work on the Xs and Os, Stoops needs to work on himself.

“”A lot has come to light about certain aspects of our team. A big part of it, the focal point was myself as well,”” Stoops admitted. “”That’s certainly an area that needs to be worked on, and I certainly will as we move forward.””

When the Wildcats closed out the season with five straight losses, grumblings of Stoops’ job security resurfaced. Another lifeless performance in a big game has the media questioning Stoops’ ability to communicate to his players, which is something that the 49-year-old head coach is deeply hurt by.

“”That’s hurtful to me in a lot of different ways, and that’s really not who I am, and that’s unfortunate,”” he said. “”But I understand the business and people see all of the bad and they don’t ever see the good.

“”That’s who I am, and that makes me who I am, and that part won’t change. I think you always try to portray yourself in a different light if that’s what it is, but I would beg to differ that, again, my loyalty, my sincerity, my ability to coach is not questioned.””

Although he said that the way he treats his players shouldn’t be questioned, Stoops did say that “”as long as my players trust me I feel like I can coach them the way I feel fit.”” But after such an epic collapse, trust may be slipping and this kind of change may indeed be warranted.

Stoops said that his philosophies and what he expects of his players definitely won’t change but he does have to control his emotions more. He still seemed to believe that he’s done no wrong with his sideline antics and admitted that he’s seen college basketball coaches Gary Williams and Mike Krzyzewski do the same things he does, “”and that’s OK, but for me it’s not.””

Stoops also made it clear that his temperament has never steered away recruits in fear that they’re coaching under a tyrant. Parents have applauded his passion and intensity, according to Stoops.

But after falling apart down the stretch of the 2010 season, some things clearly needed to change. After the Alamo Bowl loss in San Antonio, Texas, Stoops said the Wildcats needed to re-evaluate every aspect of their program moving forward.

It all starts at the top, and Stoops is taking a long look at himself in the mirror and undergoing a makeover that seemed would never come. It remains to be seen how long it lasts, but Stoops seems committed to changing his image for the better.

“”I certainly understand criticism, some of it rightfully so,”” Stoops said. “”I evaluate all of it the best I can, and I look for it to make me a better coach and a better person. And that will be something I will always strive to be here.””

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