It's a bit easier to be screaming, raving sideline madman when you win.
That was the lesson we learned from midseason casualty No. 2 on Monday night. Arizona's Mike Stoops was fired abruptly after 7 1/2 seasons. Ask Woody Hayes or Bob Knight about sideline demeanor. Sure, their personality flaws eventually led to each coach's downfall, but winning allowed them to be enabled for a long time.
Not so much with Mike Stoops. After starting 7-1 last season, he lost his next 10 games against FBS schools, twice to Oklahoma State. The capper came Saturday, losing to previously winless Oregon State.
Stoops maybe could have kept his job a little longer if he cleaned up his sideline act. There were those in the Arizona administration who were definitely upset about it. But the losing was primarily the thing. Spectacular losing after Arizona went 1-10 since that 7-1 start. A losing streak so long against FBS competition that the Pac-12 was still the Pac-10 when it started.
Nebraska's Bo Pelini learned. Even Stoops' more accomplished brother Bob learned a long time ago he had to be more corporate on the sidelines. But they won, and continue to win. Like Pelini and his brother, Stoops is a defensive coach at heart. But only five teams are worse defensively this season than this Arizona squad.
When he was hired, Mike looked like the new generation of Stoops brother. He had coached with Bob at Kansas State and Oklahoma. Mike was one of the up and comers when his screaming from the coaches' booth could be heard in the press box during his days at K-State.
Mike got his chance at age 41 in 2003. Not many coaches get fired after leading their team to three consecutive bowls but it's obvious AD Greg Byrne, who wanted to his stamp on the program.
Not telling Byrne what to do but he'll probably be looking for a defensive-minded head coach who would bring in a big-name offensive coordinator. Arizona's heritage is defense going back to the days of the Desert Swarm D.
Stoops is still a valuable commodity. In fact, his sideline antics would be more acceptable as an assistant (see Will Muschamp). No sooner had his situation become official Monday when Twitter blew up with Oklahoma fans wanting him back. For the record, there's no opening there. Brent Venables and his defensive staff are doing a fairly good job.
This is an early career-defining hire for Byrne, only 39. He's on a roll having talked hoops coach Sean Miller in off the ledge after Miller's flirtation with Maryland.