Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Before becoming a head coach in 1999, Bob Stoops worked under a varied group of coaches. Each helped shape his career.
While working at Iowa after playing for the Hawkeyes, Stoops worked on a staff that included legendary members like Hayden Fry, Barry Alvarez, Dan McCarney and Bill Brazier. At Kansas State he worked with Jim Leavitt as a co-coordinator under Bill Snyder. And at Florida, he was defensive coordinator on a national championship team in 1996 that was coached by Steve Spurrier.
Stoops credits all his mentors with molding his coaching career that has included three national title game appearances heading into Thursday's game against Florida.
"I've been with some great head coaches, but also some great assistant coaches, too," Stoops said. "I've just been around a lot of just quality coaches that I've learned from."
Fry, whom Stoops played for during his career at Iowa, still holds special prominence.
"Coach Fry I thought was a great leader and did a great job with his assistant coaches," Stoops said.
His career began as a defensive backs coach with Snyder in 1989. He remained at Kansas State for seven seasons.
"Coach Snyder was just a determined guy," Stoops said. "I was at the ground floor at Kansas State. I learned a lot from that experience."
But working with Spurrier gave him his best training for becoming a head coach.
"Coach Spurrier was just an amazing competitor," Stoops said. "I felt I learned to really love the competition of it all from watching him and being around him. All his assistant coaches were great recruiters, very professional in how they handled their business. So as a young guy, I got to see that all the time."
His Florida association led to an interesting exchange at Wednesday's press conference. Former Florida sports information director John Humenik, who now works as the executive director for the College Sports Information Directors of America, referred to Stoops as "Bobby" when he left the podium.
"I haven't been called that since I left Florida," Stoops said, chuckling.