Report: Stoops interested in Browns' vacancy
Updated: Saturday January 13, 2001 12:11 AM
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Bob Stoops, who put Oklahoma football back on the map, may get a chance to do the same thing with the Cleveland Browns.
Stoops, fresh off winning a national championship with the Sooners, said Browns president Carmen Policy has been trying to reach him for the past two days, perhaps to discuss the NFL team's coaching vacancy.
On Thursday, the Browns fired Chris Palmer, who went 5-27 during two turbulent seasons in Cleveland and Stoops may already be on the club's short list of candidates.
Stoops, who grew up rooting for the Browns, expressed interest in the Cleveland job when he was informed of Palmer's dismissal while in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he accepted a coach of the year award.
"Well, I just found it was open," Stoops told the Tulsa World. "But, sure, I'd talk to them. I've always been intrigued by the NFL. And it would certainly be a job close to my home."
Stoops was returning to Oklahoma from Arizona and could not be reached for comment.
Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione had a brief phone conversation with Stoops before the coach boarded a plane Friday afternoon. Castiglione said Stoops told him he and not yet been contacted by the Browns.
Policy was not in his office, and his assistant said he was leaving town for a week along with team owner Al Lerner.
"Mr. Policy didn't want to comment on any of the rumors that were likely to arise until there was something substantive to say," Browns team spokesman Todd Stewart said.
Policy and Stoops already share a background.
Both are from Youngstown, Ohio, and have known each other for several years. One of Policy's sons played for Stoops' late father, Ron Stoops Sr., at Cardinal Mooney High School.
"I know coach Stoops through his family," Policy said Thursday. "His father was a great guy. The whole family has been steeped in football for generations. His father was a high school coach in Youngstown and my son Edward was on the team when coach Stoops died on the sideline."
"Bob is a wonderful man," Policy said. "He's a very accomplished coach. I was going to the [Orange Bowl], but because of certain reports that were floating around, I opted to stay away."
Policy was referring to a scheduled meeting he had allegedly made to visit Miami head coach Butch Davis. Policy has denied a meeting was ever set, but those rumors fueled speculation Palmer's days were numbered.
Stoops said Policy had attempted to call him.
"But my cell phone went dead for two days and I just got it working again and got my messages," Stoops told the paper. "I don't know if that [job opening] is why Carmen Policy has been trying to call me, or if he just wanted to offer congratulations on winning the national championship."
The 40-year-old Stoops appears to fill all the criteria the Browns are seeking to become Palmer's successor.
He is young, energetic and prefers a wide-open offense. One of Palmer's downfalls was that his offensive schemes were too conservative for Policy and Browns director of football operations Dwight Clark, who favor a West Coast attack similar to what they ran in San Francisco.
Another positive for Stoops is that his offense at Oklahoma utilizes a short passing game like the one Browns quarterback Tim Couch used at Kentucky.
Policy said the Browns would likely interview NFL and college coaches, but indicated he would prefer someone with head coaching experience.
If the Browns are looking for a coach to reverse things quickly, Stoops would be a solid choice. In just his second season at Oklahoma, Stoops led the Sooners to their seventh national title.
Stoops recently received a five-year extension on his contract at Oklahoma, and a raise to $1.4 million a season.
Policy said Browns defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will be interviewed for the head coaching job. Among the other possible candidates are New Orleans offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy, Giants offensive coordinator Sean Payton and Denver offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, who worked for the Policy in San Francisco and previously interviewed for the Browns job.