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Stoops excelling in the recruitment of his coaching staff


As new head football coach Mark Stoops continues to assemble the rest of UK’s coaching staff, one of the program’s focuses has become clear: retaining the tradition of Kentucky football in the form of former players. Out of the coaches who have been officially announced, three of them have previously played at Kentucky.

Neal Brown, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, is in the Boyle County Hall of Fame for both football and baseball. He was an all-state wide receiver for Boyle County High School before he went to play two seasons in Lexington.

Chad Scott, whose particular position has not officially been determined (he will be some kind of an offensive assistant) was a running back at UK and has been coaching with Brown for the past six years (Troy, Texas Tech). His wife, the former Shambrica Jones, also played basketball for Kentucky.

And to coach the offensive line, Stoops brought in former UK guard John Schlarman. Schlarman, from Highlands High School in northern Kentucky, went on to be a four-year starter at UK and was on the SEC Academic Honor Roll for three seasons. He previously coached tight ends at UK in 2002 after spending three years in Lexington as a graduate assistant working with the offensive linemen.

Even further than those three coaches, it was also officially announced Thursday that former UK quarterback Andre’ Woodson would be returning to his position as graduate assistant working with the quarterbacks.

Tim Couch, a former field general for the Cats himself, was also instrumental in Mitch Barnhart’s coaching search that eventually led to Stoops’ hiring.

The lesson to be learned from all this? Although a former player (Joker Phillips) at the helm of the football program did not work out as expected, Barnhart and company have not forgotten the importance of maintaining the “Kentucky” brand.

Coaches who have gone through the ups and downs of UK football as only a former player could, will be able to better relate to the current crop of UK talent. They know the program, the history, the past failures and the past success. They know the city of Lexington and the state of Kentucky.More than anything, they care about the program. It’s one thing to bring in a new coach who has a bright mind or quality recruiting ties. But UK gets that extra “something” when the university hires those kinds of coaches who also have a love for the university and a connection to the state of Kentucky.

Having said that, it’s not a good idea to create an entire coaching staff full of former players. That’s why the staff Stoops has is of such quality: He has created a balance between maintaining those Kentucky ties and creating ties elsewhere.

For example, Vince Marrow (hired as tight ends coach) comes from the University of Nebraska (and before that, he played high school football with Stoops in Ohio). DJ Eliot, the new UK defensive coordinator, has been at Florida State with Stoops recently and orchestrated defensive turnarounds at Texas State before that.

Although Stoops has done a great job recruiting former Kentucky players back to their home university, he has also excelled in mixing them with guys who have recruiting ties in Florida, Ohio, Texas, etc. That mix of personalities and talent on the coaching staff will be the biggest factor in a possible turnaround of the Kentucky football program. 

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  1. Larry Pup

    I agree with what you are saying Ashley and time will tell the story. I say success is all resting on recruiting top talent. UK has to turn that aspect of this program around. UK has not been able to compete in the sec due to a lack of top talent.

  2. Doug Ridley

    I would be more comfortable with them if we had less former Uk’ers and a few like Alabama or LSU players or coaches for example. Hope it all works though.

    1. UKFAN197TONE

      Why? Who are some former LSU and Bama players that are excelling as coaches now?

    2. UKFAN197TONE

      Looks like my question was answered already.

      “Peveto brings extensive experience to the Bluegrass State, having coached in three Southeastern Conference championship games and winning a national championship while an assistant coach at LSU in 2007. Originally from Orangefield, Texas, Peveto knows the South well, having spent his entire coaching career in Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas.”

  3. Eric

    We are an intelligent fanbase, remember how many thought it was Petrino or bust.

    1. RJ


    2. Larry Pup

      Eric..I am happy for our hire in coach Stoops, but I was one of the loudest voices for Petrino on this blog. Many said no school would hire BP. So much for that. Say what you want about BP, he will be a force to be reckoned with in the days ahead in college football, just watch. It is ironic that the first opposing coach UK will face in 2013 is Petrino. I pray we win that ballgame.

      1. larryvaught

        Larry Pup, it will be doubly disastrous if UK falls to Western now. A must-win for Stoops

        1. Jim

          I am not worried about that game. Don’t see any Gardner Web games on Coach Stoops’ watch.

    3. Larry T Clemons

      I wanted Petrino…and I wasn’t totally on board for Stoops, ” But ” , when I saw the Twofer, of Stoops/Brown, I was sold and let Petrino slowly fade from my desire….Two tested young’ins, for one Battle Scared Master of Offense…I like the Stoops, Brown Combo…Heck, I like Brown’s Playbook over Petrino and that’s what sold me…

  4. Mark

    I would give even odds that Petrino want be at Western at the end of next season. With his record of steller coaching stents (See Atlanta Falcons) and remember Auburns flub up with him.

    1. Larry T Clemons

      I disagree…unless WKU Wins the National Championship. I think Petrino, has a lot to prove and will.

    2. RJ

      According to the conditions of his contract, if he leaves Western before 4 years he has to pay back a lot of money to Western. Of course, someone could cough up the bucks to pay it back for him but I don’t see it happening before three years. He’s on “probation”.

  5. Andy S

    I was not in support of Petrino coming to UK. All the major SEC schools that had openings passed on him and that says a lot about the trust factor. He still has a lot of work to do. The Stoops/Brown package is a good mix of defense and offense. Whats there not go get excited about? For once we really have some good coaches.

    1. larryvaught

      I agree Andy. Was all for Petrino too, but love the Stoops-Brown-Eliot combo

      1. RJ

        UK hiring Patrino would have made a lot of good grist for the the press but beyond that, I’m not so certain that he could have put together a better team of coachs as Mark Stoops did. But then, we won’t know until next September will we.

  6. steve from Dayton

    I thought this article was about Stoops! How did we get on the subject of this motorcycle guy?


    How is Stoops and Company doing now? :) :) :)

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