Stoops family reunites on field
Two hundred players received tips from some of Youngstown's finest football minds.
By JOHN BASSETTI
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Two Bobs, two Mikes, two Marks and two Rons if you count a father looking down.
That summed up the first day of the Football Camp of Champions at Cardinal Mooney Wednesday when 200 campers entering grades four-nine were instructed by coaches with collegiate football championship and NFL ties.
Most of the staff, under the direction of current and former Mooney High coaches P.J. Fecko and Don Bucci, was from one family -- the Stoops brothers, who have a defensive bloodline.
In addition to Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops (2000 champion), present were Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and University of Miami (Fla.) secondary coach Mark Stoops.
Also helping were Ron Stoops, the Mooney defensive coordinator, and Bob Stoops, the Youngstown State defensive line coach who is an uncle to the Sooners coach.
Green Bay linebackers coach Mark "Bo" Pelini and former NFL safety Mike Zordich were among the others.
As Ron Stoops, who turns 45 today, looked around, he thought about his father, who died in 1988.
"It's hard not to think of him," Stoops said. "This was him. This was his life. He loved every minute of it and working with kids.
"I know he'd be proud and he is proud and looks down and sees all of us on this practice field. I think it's the first time that all four brothers and my uncle Bob -- there's five of us -- are coaching on the same field. This is historic and it's a thrill."
Stoops, who will begin his second season at Mooney after coaching at Boardman where he still teaches, said the camp was his brainchild.
"The impetus was that we're all going to be in town, so it was a great opportunity for kids in our area to see and be coached by some of the best in the college business," Stoops said. "It's hard to get guys like these together in July and be able to do stuff like this. Just because of circumstances, we just took it from there."
Mark Stoops, 35, begins his second year in Miami under Larry Coker. Previously, he was defensive coordinator at Houston for one year and secondary coach at Wyoming for three years.
Champs still strong
The defending national champion Hurricanes look to be strong, Stoops says.
"We have a really solid front seven of defense with the line and linebackers pretty much all back," Stoops said. "We're two-deep from last year with the exception of one player.
Three defensive backs -- Phillip Buchanon (Raiders), Mike Rumph (49ers) and Ed Reed (Ravens) -- went in the NFL draft's first round.
"I think it was the first time in the draft's history that three players from the same secondary were drafted," Stoops said. "It's going to be a task replace them, but, other than that, most of the other groups are going to be pretty solid."
The possibility of meeting brother Bob in a national title game would be inviting.
"We've had two good years and they're going to be very good this year," Mark Stoops said. "It would be fun."
Pelini lives about five minutes from Green Bay's Lambeau Field where he's beginning his third year and ninth as an NFL coach.
His NFL coaching career began in 1994 with San Francisco when the 49ers won Super Bowl XXIX. Three years later, he joined the New England Patriots for three seasons before moving to Green Bay.
After playing free safety in college at Ohio State, Pelini went to Iowa to coach for two years. His brother Carl is the Fitch head coach.
Life in the NFL teaches hard work, discipline and focus, said Pelini, 34.
"It's a hard business," Pelini said. "It's a high-pressure environment and, at the same time, it's very rewarding. It's been a great experience."
He had an opportunity to stay when Bill Belichick returned to New England, but decided to leave after three years. Instead, he joined Mike Sherman at Green Bay.
Zordich, who retired from the Eagles three years ago, seemed pleased to be part of the camp staff.
"It's a great deal for the school to get to see some of these kids and, hopefully, keep them in the school system here," Zordich said.
Zordich, who lives in Canfield, recently purchased a utility contracting business outside of Pittsburgh.