Corona, CA: Stoops’ sideline conduct more like an assistant coach, not head man (ala Austin Hill)

To put it bluntly, this is why Mike Stoops is more of the type of a quality assistant coach than head coach material:

In Thursday’s 37-14 loss at Oklahoma State, Stoops’ talented freshman receiver Austin Hill — one of the UA’s lone bright spots in its dismal loss — approached the sideline with 13:45 left in the fourth quarter and inexplicably felt Stoops’ wrath.

Haven’t we been led to believe that Stoops will manage himself better on the sideline?

Before walking to the sideline, Hill dropped a pass from Nick Foles while being well defended on a quick slant pattern. The drop resulted in a fourth-and-10 at the Oklahoma State 33-yard line. The UA turned the ball over on downs on the next play as Foles managed to scramble for only 6 yards.

Earlier in the drive, with the UA trying to cut into the ninth-ranked Cowboys’ 27-7 lead, Hill caught a 47-yard pass from Foles to take the UA deep out of its territory into the Oklahoma State side of the field.

Hill, from Corona, Calif., caught eight passes for 128 yards in one of the best games for a freshman receiver in the program’s history (on national television, against a highly-ranked opponent).

Frankly, he did not deserve that confrontation with Stoops. ESPN play-by-play man Rece Davis called it a “skull session.”

In watching the replay, it’s telling looking at some of the bewildered faces of coaches and players watching Stoops question Hill about failing to catch the pass (it looked like Hill ran the right pattern because Foles immediately looked his way).

Reserve quarterback Bryson Beirne can be seen telling Hill, “It’s all right. It’s all right,” after Stoops walked away. That’s the kind of positive reinforcement Hill needed at that point, but the head coach did not realize that.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for coaches getting in the faces of their players when the moment calls for it. Assistant coaches are more responsible for this kind of action, to allow a buffer between the head coach and the player.

Stoops has coached long enough — now in his eighth season as Arizona’s head coach — to realize he must pick his spots to get his point across. While he probably knows this, he continues to not keep his temper and his emotions in check on the sideline.

Make no mistake, it is a distraction and a detriment to his operation.

Players should not be coddled, but they should also be managed the right way. How can a coach like Stoops look at a situation and push the right buttons when his uncontrolled anger blinds him?

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