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Mark Stoops

Mark Stoops

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky apparently has found its new football coach — defensive coordinator Mark Stoops of Florida State.

While there has been no confirmation from UK officials, several sources close to the football team indicate that Stoops has agreed to take the job and an announcement might even be made sometime this afternoon even though Florida State will be playing in the ACC championship game Saturday.

His name first surfaced as a potential candidate Saturday when CBSSports.com broke the new that he had been interviewed. Since then sources confirmed that former UK quarterback Tim Couch was instrumental in helping putting Stoops in touch with UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart.

Stoops comes from a well-known coaching family and is considered one of the nation’s top defensive coordinators. He was a graduate assistant coach at Iowa from 1989–1991, and then became the athletic director and defensive backs coach at Nordonia High School in Macedonia, Ohio (1992–1995). In 1996, he became defensive backs coach at South Florida. He was defensive backs coach at Wyoming from 1997-1999 and head coach Dana Dimel took him to Houston with him as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach in 2000.

He made another  upward move in 2001 when he became defensive backs coach at the University of Miami and joined his brother Mark at Arizona when Mark became head coach in 2004 — another brother, Bob, is head coach at Oklahoma. He became Florida State’s defensive coordinator starting in 2010.

He overhauled the Florida State defense in 2010 with dramatic improvement and his unit was one of the nation’s best last year.

He may not rate as a “home run hire” for UK and Barnhart, but the 45-year-old Stoops certainly is a solid hire and more than worth the gamble for a team coming off a 2-10 season that needs a defensive overhaul. He lacks head coaching experience, but he has 23 years of experience and terrific recruiting ties.

Parents of two UK players confirmed today that they would be “thrilled” if Stoops is the new coach as expected.

Now the question will be who will he have as offensive coordinator. Already there is speculation he will bring James Coley, who is in his fifth season at Florida State and third as offensive coordinator, with him. Doesn’t sound right? Remember that Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has been basically calling the plays and even indicated he would hire an offensive coordinator next year —  not exactly a way to pat Coley on the back.

One thing that would be a plus for Coley is that he’s also the tight ends coach and has made that spot instrumental in Florida State’s offense. UK has not had a big-play tight end since losing Jacob Tamme four years ago.

Coley has also been the recruiting coordinator at Florida State in 2008-09 and helped the Seminoles land consecutive top 10 classes. He was a Miami  high school coach for six years and has terrific contacts. He’s also got NFL experience as he worked two years as an offensive assistant with the Miami Dolphins when Nick Saban was the head coach and was a graduate assistant coach at LSU.

Another source indicated that there has been more talk concerning Texas Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown, who played two years at Kentucky and is a Kentucky native, possibly joining Stoops’ staff as offensive coordinator.

46 Responses to Kentucky appears to have a new football coach in Mark Stoops

  • Juan4UK says:

    Outstanding Hires. And I really like the Coley option. Nothing more reliable than a talented coach with something to prove. Great job here! Even if you don’t like him, you have to ggive Mitch credit for this.

    • will says:

      I fail to see how this isn’t a “homerun” hire. This is as good as UK was going to get. In fact, one could argue MB overachieved on this hire. I’m anxious to see what kind of staff is assembled, but this is already very exciting news.

      • larryvaught says:

        Think Stoops will indeed bring in key offensive mind. Actually, look for him to assemble a top staff that could include several current Florida State coaches if perhaps FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher gets targeted by a school with an opening now and takes a new job

  • eddie says:

    i’ve been hearing neal brown also ,no larry vaught i do like you but i have to disagree with you this is HOME RUN HIRE people say in about two or three years kentucky could be really good

    • larryvaught says:

      Home run hire was being talked about as NFL guy or successful head coach. Nothing wrong with a bases-loaded triple with solid coordinator Eddie, so we are all good there. And think Neal is a strong possibility still for OC

      • Neal Brown is the best news from this hire…..Looks like Petrino to Auburn…

      • Gene says:

        Have a couple of raving ‘Nole’ fans as good friends down in Talahassee.
        Both claim that while Jimbo is the engine behind the recruiting process down there, it has been Stoops who does the heavy lifting and gets the recruits to the table. Not all are signed but the majority are and would credit Stoops for getting them to FSU.
        Hear too there is a really good OC looking for work. Think his name is Phillips or something of the sort…………………………….just jokin’ people !!!

  • P90XDude says:

    This is the best hire UK could make. Give MB credit; he made a home run hire. Our defense will be immensely better year one.

  • TrueBlueJohn says:

    Maybe not a home run hire, but it is at least a triple with the bases loaded. I am already pumped up for next year.

  • Mark Russell says:

    Wow – would be a great get. Home run for sure!

  • Gary O'Nan says:

    Good job MB!!!!

  • RJ says:

    Well. At least the new guy understands defense and the role of defense in winning football games. If we can land a decent OC who is on the up and coming list, we might end up with something special in a few years. Also, maybe we can persuade a few of KY’s top HS players to stay home. Go Cats!

  • grant says:

    This ball is hit way back way back its going -going oh its caught at the wall for the 3rd out of the game. this ball game is over.

  • Jim says:

    I like the hire. Kudos to Mitch.

  • Bryan says:

    I’m excited about this hire. I don’t think we can go wrong with either Brown or Coley. Coley’s recruiting connections in Florida would be HUGE. Brown’s offense is 14th nationally, and I think could do great things with the returning talent we have at the skills positions. UK NEEDS to give Stoops the money to bring in the best staff he possibly can. That should be top priority. Do that and then get the 100 mill. funding taken care of in January.

  • Juan4UK says:

    I’m glad to see that after all the back and forth on this, it looks like Mitch got one we can all agree on. Really great job I think. And I don’t think that Stoops will have any trouble attracting someone to run his offense. Wow, just a really good hire.

  • grant says:

    thank god its over- i still want petrino

    • I’ve always been in Coach Petrino’s corner and wish we would of got Him….But, I’m not going to deny that Stoops can’t hurt us and the only way UK can go from this year, is UP….Bring in Neal Brown (OC) and I’ll be very happy. With a good defensive mind and a great offensive mind, we will improve next year to 7/8 wins….I’ll take it.

      • RJ says:

        Maybe 4 to 5 wins next year. Don’t set yourself up for dissappointment. Its a new playbook, a new defensive playbook and the same players we currently have + the recruiting class who will be freshmen. Gotta walk before you run.

        • ” Neal Brown ” , would make the 3 game difference. IMO.

        • Gene says:

          Fully agree but what Stoops can do that Joker never seemed to realize is that you have to put the kids in a position to win.
          Be it offensive scheme, defensive scheme, long playbook, edited playbook. Evaluate the talent you inherit and give them the best chance until your recruits are ready to play.
          UK has some decent talent in the likes of Sanders, Clemmons, et.al. but they were never, in my mind at least, given the opportunity to succeed.

        • LarryPup says:

          I’m pretty sure UK has some fairly good players available next year from our scout team. Stoops is a good coach. He’ll get em ready. Now we need a good OC, and we are in business.

        • LarryPup says:

          You are probably right RJ. Just beat the dog shit out of Louisville and UT.

  • UK 24 7 says:

    Wow! They did it. Very impressive. I think UK will do whatever it takes to have a winning program in football. It was time. I’m so happy for the young men on the football team because I know they’ll be excited with this hire. When athletes get excited about their coaching staff, things begin to happen. If they hire Neal Brown as OC, I’ll probably cry (happy tears). Great job Mitch Barnheart, Tim Couch and all the others who have helped in this great hire. UK FOOTBALL starts now! GO CATS!

  • LarryPup says:

    Good hire indeed! I will wait however for the official announcement. If true…GOOD JOB MITCH B. Maybe we will see some kick ass defense at UK for a change. It will be interesting who he calls for his OC.

  • eddie says:

    espn already annoucet it so if it’s from espn as breaking news so if so it’s solid also heard that there will be a press confrence on sunday at keenland acording to matt jones twitter of ksr

    • larryvaught says:

      UK is not telling the general media where the press conference will be but perhaps word has leaked out to some. But definitely accurate about a Sunday press conference

  • Juan4UK says:
  • grant says:

    joker for o.c. is my vote

  • Give ” Ira “, props, he called it, 2 days ago, from a tweet….and I would like to thank all of BBN who have been posting about Football, during Basketball Season…Thank You for indulging me with my proactive and supportive stance on and with Coach Petrino…I can say, also, Thank You Mitch Barnhart for enduring our rants and concerns, I believe you made a great move for the University and deserve congrats, even from your detractors. And lastly, Larry Vaught, thank you for stimulating and monitoring daily discussion, that brought much excitement to Kentucky Football…” Go Big Stoo…! oops ! (lol)

  • High Point Cat Fan says:

    Hey, Larry…remember back a few weeks ago when I threw out Stoop’s name (in amongst many of those others who have become very familar) with a few tidbits from his background suggesting that UK should take a look at him? You actually commented the he would be an interesting choice to look at. Well, here you are. GO BIG BLUE!!!!!

    • larryvaught says:

      So that was you HIgh Point. Could not remember where I first heard Stoops. Job well done

      • UKFMLY says:

        High Point I’m not sure which of us threw Stoops out 1st but he has been my pick since before Joker was even fired. GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE

    • You threw it out there, but Ira, made the call…The best thing, ” everyone seems to be pleased ” and some elated… Give Credit to Our Athletic Director and his Team…

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m back on board . Going to renew my season tickets. Go Big Blue. bobby Stringer

      • High Point Cat Fan says:

        Here’s hoping he brings in a highly capable staff. If he can recruit the types of defensive kids like he’s had at FSU, he should be able to do well with a competent OC. I’m optimistic that we got us a good’ern here.

  • UKFMLY says:

    THANK YOU MB. If you go all the way back to when Joker was fired I and maybe I alone wanted STOOPS from Jump street. The guy can flat coach DEFENSE and is from a coaching family. He is coaching in the south and has connection in the west which should mean recruiting success. With the right OC we could be very good sooner than later! ! !

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK GO BLUE OR STAY HOME

    I LOVE IT WHEN I’M RIGHT

    • ” I don’t want to be right, I want to be Effective “…..you are correct UKFMLY, with Neal Brown as OC, Kentucky would be ” Effective “, on both Defense and Offense…good call, UKFMLY…But, it was Ira, who called it a done deal first…” unless I missed something “….

      • UKFMLY says:

        I just heard about it. So Ira was 1st. I just wanted him from the start but had lost hope until a couple days ago because his name was not being mentioned.
        I LOVE this hire and hope it turns out the way I think.

        • UKFMLY, You could have put his name out there first, along with HighPoint…don’t want to take that from either one of you, great Call…I’m just saying, ” Ira said it was a done deal, per a tweet from a Player…Good work to All…

  • Lindas says:

    whew, I am glad that is over. Now are they going to spend money on new facilities when I have heard so many say are important?

  • Doug W says:

    I think the Stoops’ hire is one huge vindication for Mitch Barnhart. The Barnhart Bashers were out in full force before today; some calling for his head. He has proven himself once again as a solid AD who was able to bring in a top name coach that is bringing instant recognition to UK football. I am pleased with the hire and with our AD and his obvious committment to upgrading the football program. Now, the icing on the cake would be to bring Neal Brown in as his offensive coordinator.

    • I was pulling for Petrino and felt it was done…I Gave MB props for this move and agree wholeheartedly that Neal Brown would be a perfect fit and a Quarterback / Receiver Recruits Dream Coach…This will bring in Talent…ask Coach Cal, what Talent can do ?

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