Sooners' coordinator, Wildcats holding pat

Originally Published: November 20, 2003
By Ivan Maisel | ESPN.com

If opinion and gossip have anything to do with it, then Oklahoma co-defensive coordinator Mike Stoops will be the next coach at Arizona.

However, Wildcats athletic director Jim Livengood and Stoops both said Wednesday that they have not reached an agreement.

At this point, Mike Stoops, right, says he prefers to prepare the Sooners to face Texas Tech on Saturday.

"I've had TV stations calling asking if the announcement [Thursday] can be pushed back to earlier in the afternoon," Livengood said. "The job is open. Nobody has been hired. Nobody has been offered. Dec. 1 is still the target date."

Here's what has been confirmed by sources privy to the negotiations: Stoops met last week in Oklahoma City with Jim Click, a prominent Wildcat booster and a member of the search committee. Stoops and Livengood spoke on the phone as recently as Tuesday night, but Stoops begged off any lengthy discussion so as not to interrupt his preparation for the No. 1 Sooners' regular-season finale Saturday at Texas Tech.

The Oklahoman reported Friday that Stoops will meet this weekend for a second time with members of Arizona's search committee.

The interview is one of five Arizona has scheduled in the next few days and a hire could come shortly after the interviews, Kathleen "Rocky" LaRose, chairwoman of the search committee, told The Oklahoman.

"I would hope we would get to the decision here pretty quick and that we wouldn't have to belabor this any further and have more speculation," LaRose said.

The Arizona Board of Regents will be presented a salary range that Livengood and his committee feel is necessary to hire a coach, which is reportedly around $1 million per season. If the board voices no objection, Livengood and university president Peter Likins will proceed.

Stoops, asked to confirm if he would leave Lubbock to meet with Livengood, refused to comment. Livengood said that there are still "a number" of candidates that he intends to speak with. USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow told The Los Angeles Times on Wednesday that he would meet with Livengood after the Trojans play UCLA on Saturday to discuss the opening.

There is some sentiment within the Arizona athletic department for Livengood to wait to hire a new coach until after the Wildcats' last game against Arizona State on Nov. 28, in respect to interim coach Mike Hankwitz, who would like to be hired permanently. Livengood said making the hire next week is "possible. I'm not looking at it being probable."

Two friends of Stoops say that if he takes the job, he would remain with Oklahoma through the Big 12 championship game on Dec. 6, but not for the bowl game, even if the Sooners are playing for the national championship. Stoops saw firsthand how Mark Richt tried to be the new head coach of Georgia while preparing Florida State for the 2001 Orange Bowl. Oklahoma shut out the Seminoles' offense in winning the national championship game 13-2.

Arizona fired coach John Mackovic on Sept. 28, when the Wildcats were 1-4. They have gone 1-5 under Hankwitz, a veteran defensive coordinator in his first head coaching position.

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer at ESPN.com. He can be reached at ivan.maisel@espn3.com.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com