The Arizona Wildcats’ defensive coordinator is being considered to replace Jon Heacock.
By ROB TODOR
VINDICATOR SPORTS EDITOR
YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown State athletic director Ron Strollo has a million dollar question sitting on his desk.
That’s the figure that may make the difference as to whether Mark Stoops, 42, is the next football coach of the Penguins.
The contract for Stoops, currently the defensive coordinator at the University of Arizona and a Youngstown native, could be worth between $250,000 and $280,000 per year, at least double the value of former coach Jon Heacock’s deal.
Stoops, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, is also negotiating for a pool of $850,000 for his coaching staff.
The YSU counter-offer is reportedly for $750,000.
Over the length of a standard five-year contract, Stoops’ contract increase from Heacock’s, coupled with the difference in the assistants’ salaries, could mean an increase of between $1.125 million and $1.5 million for YSU.
Strollo would not confirm the offer on Monday. Through a university spokesman he said only that the process is ongoing.
Stoops also declined to comment on the YSU offer at a press conference Monday in Tucson, Ariz.
“I’ve invested too much in this program to go anywhere with this stuff until after the season,” Stoops told the Arizona Daily Star. “I’ve put too much into it, I’m too close to this program, I work for my brother [Mike Stoops] … all this stuff takes care of itself later.
“I really just care about trying to finish on a good note. To finish 8-4 here, and to have a chance to finish tied for second in this league [Pac-10] is really quite amazing.”
Arizona plays at Southern California on Saturday in the regular-season finale.
Landing Stoops would be a major hire for Strollo.
Stoops is also the brother of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops and of Cardinal Mooney High defensive coordinator Ron Stoops.
Mark Porter, who operates the respected recruiting site scoutohio.com, said Stoops would bring instant credibility.
“The Stoops name is well-respected throughout the country,” he said, “and recruits would have that familiarity with him before he ever stepped in their home.”
Porter said Mid-American Conference schools, particularly Kent State and Akron, have made recruiting inroads into the Valley in recent years. He said Stoops would “level that playing field.”
He added Stoops, who has recruiting ties in Florida and Texas, could create new inroads in those states.
Stoops currently makes $283,914 at Arizona, according to a recent article in USA Today.
Heacock resigned as YSU coach on Nov. 22 with one year remaining on his contract. He compiled a 60-43 record as the Penguins’ head coach in nine seasons after succeeding Jim Tressel.
Strollo said last Monday he wanted to have a new coach named by Christmas.