YSU’s Ron Stoops retires at 61
Oldest brother from
family did it his way
By Brian Dzenis
Ron Stoops knows what he likes and doesn’t compromise.
He was 30 years old when he finished his two-year tenure as Canton Central Catholic’s boys basketball coach and joined Boardman’s football team as an assistant coach.
This is how Stoops, 61, remembers his lone stint as a head coach from 1985 through 1987: coaching the game and building relationships with players was great, but he didn’t care for some of the additional duties that come with being a head coach. His time with the Crusaders cemented his vision for his coaching career: he wanted to coach and teach in his hometown and he didn’t need the title of head coach to do that.
“I knew I never wanted to be a high school head coach,” Stoops said. “I enjoyed coaching. I enjoyed teaching, but as a head coach when you’re in the weight room or at summer workouts and [dealing] with parents and boosters — I wasn’t interested in that. I liked coaching and I liked getting away from it.”
The Youngstown State football team’s special teams coordinator is retiring after 40 years of coaching. He spent nearly all of those years as an assistant football coach at the high school level before coming to YSU in 2010.
“I don’t have any plans. I want to spend more time with my kids and grandkids and maybe travel a little bit with my wife,” Stoops said. “I’ll see where life takes me.”
Stoops said on Friday that he currently isn’t considering other coaching opportunities. Through his career, he never ventured too far from Youngstown, making him the odd man out amongst his three younger brothers: former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, former Arizona head coach and current Alabama analyst Mike Stoops and Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops. He had every opportunity to join his brothers, but he was happy in his hometown.
“This is my lifestyle. It wasn’t the football that deterred me from college. It was the lifestyle. I didn’t want to get caught in the cycle of moving state to state,” Stoops said. “I’ve worked with guys for the last nine years that had eight different jobs in the last 10-12 years and that wasn’t going to be for me.”
Ron said Bob and Mike understood his coaching desires and left him alone as their careers progressed. Mark, the youngest of the four, tried to talk Ron into joining him at Kentucky in when he took over the program 2012, but Ron declined.
His career arc coincides with some of the most successful eras of the schools he coached.
“I was very fortunate to coach with some really good head coaches and mentors. My uncle Bob, Dick Angle at Ursuline when I also got my first teaching job, Lowell Klinefelter at Canton Central Catholic, Bill Bohren at Boardman and P.J. Fecko at Mooney,” Stoops said. “I was able to work with some really good coaches and kids. We all had success and part of that was the good people leading it.”
He was part of the Boardman team that made a state championship appearance in 1987 and the Spartans’ state semifinal team in 1995. At Mooney, Stoops was part of the 2004, ’05, ’07 and ’09 state title teams. There were also numerous standout athletes, like current East coach Brian Marrow at South High, where Stoops started his coaching career in 1978, D.J. Durkin at Boardman and Michael Zordich and John Simon at Mooney. He’ll see the latter in tonight’s Super Bowl when Simon lines up at defensive end for the New England Patriots.
“I don’t know if you could come across a guy who was more focused, more intense or more serious about his workouts or playing the game [than Simon],” Stoops said. “He lived it.”
Former YSU football coach Eric Wolford proved to be more successful than Stoops’ brothers when it came to pulling him into the college ranks, but arrangements had to be made. Stoops had three years left until he qualified for a pension from his days teaching in Boardman. Once the two agreed that he could finish out his teaching career while coaching — which he did in 2013 — Stoops entered the college coaching ranks.
“I’m a very practical person and my family comes first. I wanted to be smart about it,” Stoops said. “It’s a family decision, but it was the chance do it here in Youngstown with Eric Wolford, a man I always respected for how hard he works and he really wanted me.”
Stoops coached the secondary, linebackers and served as a co-defensive coordinator before retiring as YSU’s special teams coordinator under Penguins head coach Bo Pelini.
“I’m very appreciative of the opportunity to have coached at YSU,” Stoops said. “YSU — the entire institution — is very important to this community and working there, I was able to get a better sense of that and I was glad to be apart of that.”