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Mark Stoops thrilled to be the new football coach at Kentucky

Vaught’s note: Kentucky has scheduled a press conference for Sunday to introduce Stoops and both athletics director Mitch Barnhart and former quarterback Tim Couch, who was involved with the coaching search, will also be available to answer questions. Here is the story UK released on hiring Stoops, who was not available for comment today.

LEXINGTON — Mark Stoops, who oversaw dramatic improvements as defensive coordinator at Florida State and Arizona, and has turned FSU into one of the nation’s top defenses, has been named head football coach at the University of Kentucky, UK director of athletics Mitch Barnhart announced Tuesday.

“New beginnings always provide a sense of excitement,” Barnhart said.  “That’s why today I’m excited for Mark Stoops and his family as they provide a new beginning for our football program, fans and players.

“Mark’s passion has been evident in the way he coaches and in his love for the game of football.  That passion carried over into our process and his desire to wear the Blue and White.  Our desire to get better defensively and continue to expand our recruiting base helped guide us to Mark.  He comes from a coaching family and has been in big games and big atmospheres throughout his career.  That has prepared him for this opportunity to become head coach at Kentucky.  We welcome Mark, Chantel, Will and Zack to the Big Blue Nation.”

“I enjoyed my time this week with Coach Stoops,” said Dr. Eli Capilouto, President of the University of Kentucky. “I am impressed with his commitment to student-athletes, both in the classroom and on the field. I am also deeply impressed with the way Mitch Barnhart has conducted this important process. I am confident that Coach Stoops has the character and skill to build the winning program the Big Blue Nation wants and deserves.”

Stoops has been defensive coordinator at FSU for three seasons, inheriting a unit ranked 108th in the NCAA in total defense and turning it into one of the nation’s best.  Heading into Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference championship game with a 10-2 record and No. 13/12 national ranking, the Seminoles are second in the nation in total defense, allowing 249.4 yards per game, and seventh nationally in scoring defense at 15.1 points per game.  Playing well against the run and the pass, FSU is fourth in the country in both rushing defense and pass efficiency defense.  FSU leads the ACC in seven defensive categories.  Stoops also coaches the defensive backs under head coach Jimbo Fisher.

Eight Seminoles on defense earned 2012 All-ACC honors, including four first-team selections, highlighted by one of the nation’s top defensive end duos in Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine, who combined for 24 sacks and 31 tackles for loss. Werner is a finalist for the 2012 Bronko Nagurski Award as the National Defensive Player of the Year and is the national co-leader in sacks with 13. Stoops also coached cornerback Ronald Darby to ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year.

The Seminoles’ prowess is a continuation of the 2011 season, when Stoops’ troops led the nation in fewest yards allowed per carry (2.3), ranked fourth in the nation in total defense (275 yards per game), second in rushing defense (82.7 ypg), fourth in scoring defense (15.1 points per game), eighth in tackles for loss (8.6 per game) and quarterback sacks (3.1 per game).  FSU led the ACC in eight defensive categories.

Stoops overhauled the Florida State defense in 2010, his first season as defensive coordinator.  The Seminoles gave up 19.6 points per game, third-best in the ACC and 20th nationally.  FSU ranked 42nd nationally in total defense that season; in contrast, the team was 108th nationally in total defense and 94th in scoring defense in 2009, the year before Stoops’ arrival.  FSU improved its overall defense by more than 80 yards per game, primarily by limiting opponents to 75 fewer rushing yards per game.  The Seminoles ranked third in the nation in quarterback sacks and were 21st in tackles for loss.  In the secondary, Stoops coached Xavier Rhodes to ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors and National Defensive Freshman of the Year accolades.

During Stoops’ three seasons, FSU has gone 10-4, 9-4 and 10-2, including wins over South Carolina in the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl and Notre Dame in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl.  The Seminoles’ 2012 bowl bid will be announced Sunday.

“I am thrilled to be named the head football coach at the University of Kentucky,” Stoops said.  “My family and I are excited and looking forward to becoming a part of the Big Blue Nation.

“First of all, I want to thank Jimbo Fisher and Florida State University for allowing me to be the defensive coordinator at Florida State.  It has been three of the greatest years of my life.  I am grateful for the support of all Seminole fans as we focus on the ACC Championship.

“I want to thank President Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart for this opportunity.  I promise the faithful of the Big Blue Nation I will be focused and driven to create a positive, winning atmosphere for the program and an environment that all of Kentucky can be proud of.”

“I am extremely happy for Mark and his family,” FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said.  “He has done a tremendous job for us here as a defensive coordinator and he is a vital part of our staff. I always say you want the people who work for you to advance and reach their goals and aspirations and I couldn’t be happier. He has done a super job for us and this opportunity is well deserved. He is very well prepared and I think he will do one heck of a job for the University of Kentucky. I was very fortunate to have him on our staff and consider him a good friend.”

Stoops was defensive coordinator and DBs coach at Arizona from 2004-09, working for his brother, Mike, who was head coach of the Wildcats.  During Mark’s time there, Arizona’s records improved steadily, going 3-8, 3-8, 6-6, 5-7, 8-5 and 8-5.  The Wildcats advanced to the Las Vegas Bowl and Holiday Bowl during the last two years.  Mark and Mike are also brothers of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, with Mark being the youngest of the three.  Mike is currently the defensive coordinator on Bob’s staff at Oklahoma.

Stoops inherited an Arizona unit that was 109th in the nation in total defense and 107th in scoring defense in 2003, the year before he arrived.  By the end of his term at Arizona, the Wildcats ranked in the nation’s top-25 in total defense his final two seasons and ranked as high as 33rd in scoring defense.

Prior to Arizona, Stoops coached the defensive backs three years at Miami (Fla.).  The 2001 national champion Hurricanes led the nation in pass efficiency defense, scoring defense and turnover margin. That team also established a school record with 27 interceptions and 45 total takeaways.

Stoops’ 2002 secondary led the nation in pass defense and pass efficiency defense. Despite having to replace all four starters in the defensive backfield, the 2003 team led the nation in pass defense.  In his three seasons, Miami went 35-3, including the 12-0 Rose Bowl title campaign, plus appearances in the Fiesta and Orange bowls.  Ten Miami defensive backs who played at least one season under Stoops were eventually selected in the National Football League draft – seven in the first round.

Stoops got his first experience in leading a defense as co-defensive coordinator at Houston in the 2000 season.  He coached the secondary at Wyoming from 1997-99 and the Cowboys notched three-straight winning seasons.  A highlight of his time there was a school-record 24 interceptions in the ’97 season. His first full-time coaching job was in 1996 at South Florida, helping USF in the start-up of its program before the Bulls had their first kickoff in ’97.

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  1. Larry T Clemons

    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)

    1. Ira

      Larry your to kind, but I tell you something else I saw, don’t know if it will hold water or not. Seen that he may bring in James Cooley FS OC/TE’s coach. Now I don’t know a thing about this guy but I did see something on his saying he was 2012 recruiting coach of the year or along those lines!

      I am glad this search is over. Bobby Petrino can be put to rest I hope. We bring in a coach that has a defensive mind set ala Muschamp. If we get a top of the line OC, I can see Maxwell Smith doing well again out there.

      Also seen where Mark Stoops came in with an action plan and said this is what I’m going to do at UK to make it winnable. Not I’m just the guy that is right. He had a plan. The guy is organized.

      Give credit where credit is due, Mitch said he would recognize the coach when he saw it, hopefully the BBN he saw correctly.

      1. RJ

        Make a plan and exicute. This is what successful people do.

        1. LoveSECF-Ball

          I agree with both of you. I noticed the same thing about his “Plan”.
          Let’s hope our Administration will support this plan!

      2. LarryPup

        For all those who bad mouthed Mitch B. hope this makes you happy. I wanted Petrino, but I understood the problem. This is a great hire.

    2. LarryPup

      Kyle tucker of the C-J was putting info out just last night that Mark Stoops had said no to UK, and was also saying other coaches like Dykes and Jones had declined too. I guess he’ll have to eat his words now want he. The C-J stinks. Can’t stand that bunch of Louisville cheer leaders.

  2. David C

    Congrats to Coach Stoops and wish him and the Cats success in 2013! I hope he brings some players from the Florida area to help out on the defensive side of the ball. Our talent level is much different than what he had at Florida State.

    1. jew4uk in mizzou

      But he will be able to bring in some of those florida boys I myself am very excited that we got this up and comer, give it two years and BIG Blue will be relivent. Kuddos to you Mitch, I give this hire and A+. I just wold like to know how he intends to fix our horrible offense?

      1. LarryPup

        I suggest Neal Brown for starters.

  3. grant

    I hope he can recruit at a level that can compete with the upper echelon of the SEC , if he can than he will do great. It will take 3 or 4 years to see how his recruits turn out , but i wish him well.



    NOT who I was expecting, but I wasn’t asked. HA.


    OH. Gotta give a BIG BLUE shout-out to the man for accepting the task of heading the UK Football team too. HIGH FIVE is in order as well…

  5. Old Cat

    Well done Mitch, nice to see Eli express interest in football. Now we will get to see what we rally have, with a quality OC I can see a great year in 2013. Time to put out an application for season tickets!

  6. jew4uk in mizzou

    Does any one know if Coley the OC from florida State is really going to come with Stoops if so watch out SEC BBN is taking over in basketball and football

    1. Josh

      According to reports the OC is coming to Kentucky with him. If these are true I believe UK can be on the upswing finally.

  7. LarryPup

    Coach Stoops…Welcome! Go Blue…Beat Louisville! Beat Tennessee!

  8. LarryPup

    Larry V..Thanks for allowing all of us to put our two cents worth in these past few weeks. It has been a blast. Your site is the best. Love all my Big Blue guys and gals no matter their opinion. Finally, kudos to our AD, he came through with a solid hire. Let’s support our CATS. On! On! UK!

  9. Mike Flannery

    Mr. Stoops certainly has a good pedigree, it will certianly be interesting to see who he bring in as assistants, I was one strongly pushing for Petrino, from my view I give it a “thumbs up”. It is time to get excited, throw my 100% behind Mr. Stoops and the team and look forward to 2013!

  10. Glenn Owens

    I have and always will bleed blue.
    If he can get a great O C then Ky will be relevent in the SEC in football as well as basketball. GREAT HIRE – I am excited and looking foreward to next year. Go Big Blue Nation – Lets support our new Coach. G. O.

    1. David

      Glenn are you from Louisville THS

      1. David

        If so get some of those Trinity boys to talk with the new coach

        1. UKFAN197TONE

          I second that…

  11. donv

    Read that he had a list of recruits just in case he got the call. Auburn, NC State, and Colorado called but Mitch already had his foot in the door. Very well connected and the more I read the more I like. Thanks Larry for all the hard work.

  12. john4uk

    Congratulations to Mark Stoops on his becoming the next football coach at UK.Deom his resume,it looks as if he has the potential to be an outstanding coach.Hopefully he will hire a top flight staff and get this program headed in the right direction.
    One big thing in Coach Stoops favor,he has been an outstanding Defensive Coordinator,and history shows that outstanding coordinors have turned out to be outstanding head coaches.

  13. shinny

    Thanks Larry for keeping us in tune as to what was going on in the search. I’m proud to be a loyal football fan of the Kentucky Wildcats for a change. It will be super if he could bring the O.C. with him. From what I’ve read he is a great recruiter in the state of Florida. Or perhaps our own Neal Brown with his knowledge of Kentucky and a good offensive mind. The excitment at the Louisville game next year will be like old times. Thanks Mitch for a job well done. The BBN must now be patient as we move up in the conference! Welcome to the Bluegrass coach you will find we do love our football after all and you will love the BBN!!!!!!

  14. Bill

    A great hire and the positive comments have me feeling better about Kentucky football than I have in some time. A fan base that pulls together can make things happen.

  15. David

    Where is the guy that was so convinced of his contact that told him Mike MacIntyre was the new head coach that news conference was going to be yesterday at noon? Oh yeah and that the football team got wind of his hire and were all excited about him that we all should be excited about Mike MacIntyre. Come on out and give me the score of tomorrow nights game I am sure your contact knows the outcome already. haha just kidding with you.

    I will keep an open mind with the new unproven HC and hope he is as good of a head coach as he was a defensive coordinator. I sure am glad its over! I am hoping he can go into Florida and Ohio and pull in some talent that can compete for us in the SEC. I hope he does so well that Barnhart will have to pay the man 5 million a year to keep him.

  16. Tom h

    Thanks Larry for your insight and for letting all BBN vent our displeasure. Been a UK football fan for 50 years and have learned the hard way to not get too excited about UK football. I wanted Petrino, thought he could win faster, but what I’ve heard about coach Stoops I think he is a great hire. Glad UK hired a defensive coach. I realize the talent UK has overall doesn’t match FSU’s but look at the job Charlie Strong-another defensive coach-has done at Louisville. Offense wins games while defense wins championships. Cooley or Neal Brown will be great o cordinators. Cooley brings the Fla connections with him. Lets hope several FSU recruits decide to follow Stoops to Uk

  17. TrueBlueJohn

    When is the last time that we got a good recruit from Florida? I can’t remember.

    1. UKFAN197TONE

      Glen Faulkner was a 4* out of Florida, but I don’t remember seeing him on the field. I remember his name because I was excited that UK had a 4* player and he was “talked up” by several recruiting sites. I’m going to check UKs site and see if he’s still on the roster.

      1. UKFAN197TONE

        Well, I was wrong, UKs site says he’s from St. Louis and he’s still on the roster.

        Danny Trevathan is the last good one from Florida.

  18. P90XDude

    I have been a fan as long as Larry Vaught. We wish nothing but success in the future for Joker but now we have turned the page with a great hire – I will now renew my season football tickets again. This hire is a game-changer. Recruits will now take a 2nd and 3rd look at UK. That cannot be bad, can it?

    1. David

      Sounds about right, I too will renew again my tickets. I am still going to be very vigilant of how much support the AD gives the football program

    2. larryvaught

      P90XDude, believe we have been doing this almost exactly the same amount of years. Glad to hear you are coming back with the tickets

  19. TrueBlueJohn

    I have long had the opinion that the right coach could win at UK. That our facilities were good enough, and that we were in a geographical location close enough to other states with good recruiting bases. Only time will tell if Mark stoops is the right coach, but this hire is the first time that I feel optimistic going ahead in the future. If the administration is serious about improving football, and gives him the right kind of support, I feel that he can succeed where so many others have failed

  20. Juan4UK

    The best thing UK Fans can do now it to buy huge numbers of season tickets. That can be a huge selling point in recruiting this upcoming signing class.

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