Pac-12 football: Colleagues sympathize with Stoops

2011-10-12T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T16:08:50Z Pac-12 football: Colleagues sympathize with StoopsPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 12, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Mike Riley knows what it's like to be fired.

He was let go after three years as head coach of the San Diego Chargers, and he witnessed his father, a former coach, be fired.

So it's safe to say that neither Oregon State's Riley, nor any Pac-12 coach, can be genuinely surprised by schools' directives for change.

From the day they're hired, coaches know they're likely to be fired one day.

Very few aren't.

"That's kinda the life we live," Riley said. "We can't dwell on that or think about that all the time. It's always out there. You just have to do the best that you can."

One day after the Arizona Wildcats fired Mike Stoops, Pac-12 coaches expressed sympathy for the latest former member of their fraternity.

It was out of respect - both for Stoops and the hazards of the profession.

"It's always out there; it's always a possibility," Riley said. "We all know that when we get into it. that's just life."

Coaches defended Stoops, praising his defensive acumen and predicting success at his next stop, wherever that may be.

"He's a heckuva coach, especially a defensive coach," said David Shaw, whose Stanford team beat the UA 37-10 last month. "Don't let some of their scores fool ya. They'll make a game interesting."

Shaw, whose father was a respected NFL assistant coach, said he never likes to see a change, much less one in-season.

"But they felt they needed that to help their team," he said, "and that's what they chose to do."

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said he was "extremely impressed" with Stoops' coaching job.

"I was very surprised (by the move) - I have the upmost respect for Mike, and his ability to coach football," he said.

"He's a dang good football coach."

Asked what he thought of the decision to fire Stoops, Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson was direct.

"It's none of my business," he said. "I think Mike Stoops is a great football coach."

Stoops' teams shared his personality, for better or worse, UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said.

"Sometimes, some people might have thought he was almost too passionate, with the way he comported himself on the sidelines," Neuheisel said. "Because he wore it on his sleeve. But it was not anything of an act....

"His teams played like that."

Neuheisel said he believes that UA interim boss Tim Kish "is very popular among the players," and that Kish "has to be excited about the chance, despite the circumstances."

The UCLA coach will find out firsthand. After a bye, Kish will make his head coaching debut Oct. 20 against the Bruins.

"We're going to go into a hornet's nest," Neuheisel said. "There's no question about it."

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