Both Mike, the Arizona coach who Mark worked for last season, and Bob made it plain during the last bowl-selection season that they opposed any berth that would put them across the field.
But Bob had some fun after Monday’s practice speaking fondly of the days he and the two other older Stoops brothers (including Ron) enjoyed the runt of the family—at least five years younger than any of his older brothers.
“He is a bad guy, he is the black sheep of the family and nobody likes him,” Stoops said, laughing.
“No, he is being the youngest. . .he was the favorite of my parents and the favorite of us as siblings. When he is that much younger than you, then you enjoy him as a little guy, because you are old enough to take care of him, or take him with you.”
Then the stories started to come.
“I always thought it was hysterical when he first started playing Pop Warner or Little League football,” Stoops remembered. “He had been running around with three older brothers forever playing ball, at (his football-coaching dad’s) practices, and I mean he really understood how to play.
“So he was like Dick Butkus and Walter Payton out there. I mean he would play middle linebacker and he would kill everybody. And he would play running back and he had all the moves as a young guy.”
Being the youngest had both its rewards and drawbacks in a family with three older brothers—all of whom shared one bedroom.
“Mark wasn’t like Mike, Ron and I as my brother Ron was three years older than me and we were always scuffling or into something, especially me,” Stoops said. “But Mark was too young he couldn’t be in the middle of it.
“So there wasn’t anybody fighting him, so we would pretty much throw him around the room in fun ways and he was in the hospital getting stitches about every other week. We would just be playing with him bouncing him off the bed because we were all in the same room and so we would have him jump on the board and we would try to take his feet out from under him with pillows.”
And, of course, the brothers put him up to things for their own amusement.
“He would do anything in the neighborhood,” Stoops said. “And that was the idea too; because I had a bunch of buddies in the neighborhood and we would get Mark to do just about anything.
“I remember I would get him up on the high dive when he was about five at the city pool and he would do anything. He would do back-flips and land on his seat or smack himself, and he would get up and do it again.
“So he was a little bit of a daredevil too, but I think he was doing it because we were all telling him too, you know. You know the little guy doesn’t want to tell you no.
“He knew he was entertaining us.”
It’s a wonder Mark still speaks to his brothers. He wasn’t, however, able to speak of their childhood together. Seminoles’ coach Jimbo Fisher doesn’t permit his assistants to talk to the media.
Among Stoops’ other observations this week:
*He twice mentioned that OU “held some things back” offensively last week that would surface Saturday against Florida State.
*He complimented receivers Cameron Kenny and Dejuan Miller, in addition to lauding Ryan Broyles.
*Said the secondary errors were caused by players who did not make plays they were in position to make. But said freshman nickel back Tony Jefferson “had an excellent game.”
*Seemed to indicate Ronnell Lewis would remain more in the end rotation than at linebacker, a premise later enforced by defensive coordinator Brent Venables discussing the return this week of ends Frank Alexander and Pryce Macon. Lewis played end and on special teams against Utah State when the Sooners were in essence in a nickel defense throughout.
“(Lewis) just needs to be in the rotation,” Stoops said. “He did well (vs. the Aggies).
“He’s still learning. He’s still getting upfield more than he should, those kinds of things, instead of closing on the tackle when he blocks down. But he’s getting it more and more and made a nice sack.
“So we feel the more he plays the more comfortable he’s going to be there. You’ve got to have four or five guys there to rotate to play as hard as you need them to, to rush the passer. And he will be one of those guys.”
*Said the offensive line was, “much further along than a year ago, but we want more.”
*Said Flower Mound Marcus freshman defensive tackle Daniel Noble “has really played well in practice” and should play this week.
-- Mike Jones.