By LARRY VAUGHT
This is part of a series with Kentucky head football coach Mark Stoops based on a recent interview with him that I hope will offer insights into his personality and philosophies that you have not read about before.
Question: Since you once were a high school assistant coach at Ohio’s Nordonia Hills, does that give you a greater appreciation for those coaches and help you relate to them in recruiting?
Stoops: “I think so. I hope so. And along with me coaching and spending some time in high school as an athletic director, I helped out coaching a little bit but also with growing up around it – my dad, my uncles, my brother Ron was a high school coach up to a couple years ago. Now, he’s at Youngstown State but Ron coached in high school forever. I really have spent a lot of time around high school and high school coaches. My dad was a high school coach for 30 years and I just grew up in the gym and like I said, around practices. My high school coaches had a great influence on myself, both as a player and as a coach.”
Question: Was there a time when you thought becoming a head high school coach was a lofty aspiration?
Stoops: “Yeah, there was definitely a time where I was going to school and thinking I’m not sure what I wanted to do in the future and then I went back and had an opportunity to go back right out of college. I was 24 years old, maybe 25, when I started. I was an athletic director at a high school – the school district, the high school and middle school – and it helped out with the high school coaching. But I thought, yeah, yeah, I thought that was a great opportunity for me. I wasn’t sure where I would go from there, but after a few years of doing that, I really missed the college football. I was a GA (graduate assistant) prior to that (at Iowa), so after I got the three and a half years’ experience doing that, I just really felt like I had the pull to get me back to college football.”