Most Recent Posts
- Volleyball training, personality will both help Marcus Lee at Kentucky
- UK coach Mark Stoops was patient with Neal Brown because he was “all-in” on hiring him
- UK signee Marcus Lee overcame early education struggles to succeed in academics, athletics
- No. 12 Kentucky and No. 5 Arizona State to start best-of-three NCAA Super Regional set Saturday at 10 p.m. ET
- Stoops: Hiring Neal Brown to run Kentucky offense was a “no-brainer for me”
- Nunley, Cumbess Propel No. 12 UK Softball to Super Regionals
- DeCourcy says Julius Randle is “so freaking quick” and powerful he will be special
- UK football coach Mark Stoops on wife: “She gets involved as much as she can in a supportive role”
Vaught’s note: Kentucky fan Todd Keelin took his Little League baseball team to watch UK play Georgia Saturday. I asked him to share that experience. Enjoy the comments and photos.
By TOOD KEELIN
I would also like to tell you about the wonderful experience our boys and their families had. Our team is from Ashland, . We are the Ashland American Little League Yankees. Our boys are ages 9 to 12 years old. We were not the only team from our Little League in attendance as we were joined by the White Sox and their coaches and families as well.
From start to finish our experience was wonderful. After making the two hour trip from Ashland we met with the event staff to obtain our tickets and passes. The event staff was very nice and helpful and went out of their way to take care of our group. The coaches and teams were then escorted down to the field to watch the Cats warm up and take infield practice.
The players and coaches would come over and interact with the boys and even gave them baseballs. When it came time for the National Anthem, the boys were taken on the field and got to stand with the team during the playing of the National Anthem. As if that wasn’t enough, the entire UK team began to huddle around our boys to where you could not even see them and they began to jump up and down getting pumped for the game and then let out a big Go Cats!!! The boys loved it.
We then went back to our seats and enjoyed the game. After the game ended we took our team down to where the UK players exit the field. The players were so nice to our boys. They took time to sign autographs and take pictures even though they were visiting with friends and family. All in all it was a great day and a day these boys will never forget.
The professionalism that the UK staff, coaches, and players showed was phenomenal. It speaks very well to the job well done by Mitch Barnhart and the people he has put in place to run the sports programs. I can’t say enough about the wonderful time that we all had.
|UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart|
By LARRY VAUGHT
NASHVILLE — Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart says if everything goes as planned, UK should have a revamped Commonwealth Stadium at the start of the 2015 season if the Kentucky General Assembly approves $110 million in bonding for renovations of the UK football facilities.
The $110 million was part of a $300 million package for Kentucky that was endorsed by Gov. Steve Beshear and legislature leaders at a press conference in Frankfort Thursday.
Commonwealth Stadium improvements would include 16 to 20 private suites, 2,000 new club seats, a team store, improved concessions, restrooms and security, a full-service kitchen and press facilities.
There will also be a long-awaited multi-purpose recruiting room that former UK coach Rich Brooks wanted during his tenure.
“We’ve been talking to architects for a long time. We’ve known a lot of them. It’s the same folks who work across the country, so we know them all and most of them have done projects with them at other places, so we’ve got a pretty good idea of what they think is possible and what is not possible,” said Barnhart here Thursday night before UK beat Vanderbilt 60-58.
“And you get into the hard questions, you know, about where do you want to put locker rooms and medical and dining room and training table and those kinds of things. If those things are going to be part of your package, where are you going to put all that? So we’ve got to work our way through all that. Coach (Mark) Stoops has obviously got to be a huge part of that conversation. He’s got to get off the recruiting trail and we’ve got to give him some organized thoughts to be able to attack that with.”
Stoops indicated when he took the UK job in December after Joker Phillips was fired after a 2-10 season that improvements were coming. However, Barnhart doesn’t think anything he shared with Stoops about possible renovations influenced him to come to UK.
“He wanted this job because he wanted to come to Kentucky. A lot of people said, ‘Was there any quid-pro-quos? Was there any, ‘If you don’t do this I’m not.’ No, it wasn’t anything like that. He was great,” Barnhart said. “He says, ‘Look, I’m going to come and we’re going to get this thing going and if we have some other things work with, that’s terrific.’ So I’m excited to be able to do that, and now we’ve got to go to work and put the rest of the packages together.”
“I’m glad. I’m happy for our program. I think it’s a great opportunity for us to really do some special things. I want it to be a special place for our fans, for our players and our coaches. We’ll see what dividends it brings in terms of wins and losses and hopefully celebrate some really cool things.”
Barnhart said some changes — training room upgrades, weight room improvement — will make it clear to players that UK wants to have a consistent winning program.
“We clearly want to do some things for our players and make sure they know this is about them, too,” Barnhart said.
Barnhart knows the bottom line will remain whether or not Kentucky can win.
“It helps you in recruiting,” he said. “It clearly sends the message that we’re going to be committed to football. A lot of schools have had success in college football that weren’t traditional powers. We can get there and we can do that.”
“We’ve always been committed to football. People view it differently. We’ve completed 10 projects in football in the last seven years in different ways and no one sees that. They just can’t see them because they’re places that people just don’t go. This will be something that everybody can see. We’ve always been committed to football and I’m absolutely comfortable going forward that this indicates how important football is to the University of Kentucky.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Give Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart credit for doing what he said he would do — spending money to put together a quality football staff.
Sure, not all of us believed he would do it, but he has to show the school’s financial commitment to football in more ways than just giving new head coach Mark Stoops $2.2 million annually over five years — about $500,000 more per year than previous coach Joker Phillips made.
But what is most impressive is that Barnhart and UK spared no expense for coordinators Neal Brown and D.J. Eliot.
Brown, a Boyle County High School graduate, had been offensive coordinator at Texas Tech the last three years and had built an impressive resume with his own version of the Air Raid offense. He was a quick target to hire for Stoops, but other schools also had some interest in Brown. That’s why he was interested in having a three-year contract, something not many schools give coordinators, as well as a raise over his previous salary which was already higher than what previous UK offensive coordinator Randy Sanders made ($338,000).
Eliot, the former defensive line coach at Florida State where Stoops was the defensive coordinator, will also make $500,000 — or $162,000 more than Rick Minter made last year. Like Brown, he gets a three-year deal that will expire on June 30, 2016. That’s the same time Brown’s deal will expire.
Both coaches will get one month’s salary for an SEC East title and/or invitation to a non-BCS bowl game with a payout less than $2.5 million. They will get one and a half months’ salary for a non-BCS bowl game with a payout of $2.5 million or more. If UK wins a SEC and/or gets a BCS bowl invitation, they get two months’ salary. Those bonuses likely will be included for each UK assistant coach.
Brown and Eliot now have salaries on par with what top coordinators in the SEC is paid — and that signals a big step forward for UK. Barnhart wasn’t afraid to give both coaches attractive salaries or guarantee three years. He has to believe if he’s paying Stoops $2.2 million per year for five years, he has to have confidence that the coordinators Stoops wanted will be vital to turning the program around and that giving them a three-year deal instead of two years is smart business rather than a gamble.
Kentucky fans continue to be impressed with the new staff, especially Brown.
Long-time UK fan Dale Polley of Nashville likes what he’s seeing and hearing about UK football.
“I am so excited that Neal Brown is coming to UK. It sure seems that we have a great pairing in Stoops and his experience on defense and now with Brown we have a pro running the offense,” Polley said. “(Quarterbacks) Max Smith and Patrick Towles have to be beyond excited. Tell Neal that there is this guy in Nashville that has been spreading his name across the internet for about six weeks hoping that UK would hire him — and that was before I even knew the complete UK connection with him. It is nice to have something on the football front to be excited about.”
And that’s why the money Barnhart is giving Stoops, Brown and Eliot is money well spent if they do the job on the field that he thinks they will and UK fans believe they will.
Photos by Victoria Graff, and property of Schurz Communications, Inc., and vaughtsviews.com. All rights reserved; images may not be reprinted in print or online without permission of the owners. Reprinted images must be attributed to vaughtsviews.com and linked to the original site.
By KEITH TAYLOR, Winchester Sun
Mitch Barnhart knows it takes defense to compete in the Southeastern Conference. That’s why he hired a proven defensive coordinator to lead the football program at the University of Kentucky.
During a month-long search for a coach, Barnhart wanted a defensive-minded leader and turned to former Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. Kentucky, which made five straight bowl appearance before going 7-17 during the past two seasons, not only started missing the postseason, but Barnhart noticed the Wildcats started “slipping” on the defensive side of the ball and wanted his next coach to shift the team’s focus back to defense and “how we could stop people.”
“We started to give up 25, 30 and 35 points a game and in this league and you’re not going to have success at the level you want if you can’t stop somebody,” he said following a press conference Sunday introducing Stoops as the team’s coach. “That was a focus for us.”
Clearly, Barnhart wanted a coach who understood and valued defense and determined it was Stoops who stood head and shoulders above the other candidates during the hiring process.
“I wanted us to be better defensively, so that we didn’t have to be so perfect on offense,” he said. “That was really, really important to us. That is where I started.”
From the beginning, Barnhart was prepared for the task at hand and had a “plan in place” after informing former coach Joker Phillips of his dismissal with three weeks remaining in the regular season. He made several contacts and settled on Stoops last week.
“We started to funnel through a bunch of names and you’ve got to be prepared,” he said. “I didn’t want to get to that day where we had to change, but when we did, we had to be ready. As the funnel got tighter, we got down (to it) and one name came out, and it was the one we offered the job to and it was Mark.”
Barnhart said Stoops was “spectacular” during the hiring process and “very organized.”
“He has a plan and his recruiting ties were very, very important,” he said. “You’ve got to have players and everybody knows that … and that recruiting piece is very important. I feel very strongly about the pedigree that Mark has through his family, the places that he’s been, the knowledge that he has gained, his toughness, the discipline that his team’s play with and the defensive piece was very, very important to us. All those components “wrapped” around the thought process that he has offensively gives us a chance to get better.”
In addition to Stoops, Barnhart said the other applicants had “good plans,” but was impressed with Stoops after he contacted Barnhart about the job and liked what Stoops had to offer.
“He and I texted back and forth a lot and there wasn’t a time where his energy didn’t come through, even in a text message,” he said. “That doesn’t win you a job, but it certainly doesn’t hurt you. We’ve had great communication and I’ve been very impressed with what he’s had to say. He’s been around (football) his entire life and he’s thinking about (football) all of his life. This is something he was been waiting for and working toward his entire career. He’s got and he’s ready to go turn it loose.”
Off the field, Barnhart was swayed by Stoops’ work ethic and his family’s desire to be in Lexington.
“I had an opportunity to meet with some members of his family and my brother works with Bob (Stoops) at Oklahoma and I know how much he thinks of coach Stoops at Oklahoma,” Barnhart said. “I love his family, they want to be here and that was important to us. He wants to develop young men from the inside out and he thinks he can build them to be really good people and really good football players. He has shown that and he’s a really good teacher of the game. I think that’s important.
“His work ethic is relentless and that’s what it is going to take for us to have an opportunity. That’s not to say that the people did not work hard. They worked hard and sometimes it just doesn’t work. We had to move on and do something differently. He gives us new hope, new energy, a new beginning and a chance to believe again.”
During his first search for a coach in 2002, Barnhart admitted that “it was hard” to find a replacement for Guy Morriss, but discovered a different tone outside the program this time around, a sign that the Kentucky job wasn’t a hard sell for Barnhart.
“We had some folks that came to us and said this was a good job,” Barnhart said.
Barnhart gave Stoops a five-year contract for $11 million plus incentives and gave Stoops and early stamp of a approval on a coaching staff, one that will be financial competitive with other salaries in the conference and the nation. He also added that the school is “financially in sound shape.” Barnhart added that Stoops “wanted to come” to Kentucky regardless of the school’s facilities and background.
“We’re working on those things,” Barnhart said of upgrading the school’s current facilities. “What’s so funny to me is people act like we’ve never done anything for football facilities. I find that ironic. One thing everybody wants to change is obviously Commonwealth Stadium and want to do some things to help with that as well, but when he walked through our Nutter Center, he said it was nice. He had no idea.
“He walked to our team rooms, our meeting rooms and our locker rooms, he said they were really nice. I think the perception out there is that we don’t have anything that is nice. That’s just not true. We’re working hard on that. The timing was not right in some of the other times, but we’re gaining ground on that and what the timing looks like on that, I don’t know. And like I said, sooner rather than later. That’s not an issue to Mark right now. What we’ve got, we can go to work with.”
Photos by Clay Jackson, and property of Schurz Communications, Inc., and vaughtsviews.com. All rights reserved; images may not be reprinted in print or online without permission of the owners. Reprinted images must be attributed to vaughtsviews.com and linked to the original site.
LEXINGTON (AP) — Mark Stoops was introduced Sunday as Kentucky’s new football coach and got everyone’s attention, saying he believes the Wildcats are capable of winning the Southeastern Conference title.
He didn’t say it would be easy, but it’s not impossible.
“There are no magic wands,” Stoops said at a news conference.
But Kentucky is confident Stoops can rebuild a program that just finished their third straight losing season and 0-8 in the SEC. Stoops, the former Florida State defensive coordinator, received a 5-year, $11 million deal. He’ll begin his work at Kentucky immediately and will not accompany the Seminoles to their bowl game.
“There’s too much work to do at Kentucky and it’s hard to be in two places at once,” Stoops said.
Kentucky had announced on Tuesday that the 45-year-old Stoops was going to be the man to replace Joker Phillips, who was fired on Nov. 4. Phillips was 2-10 this season and 13-24 overall.
He says it will be challenge to transform Kentucky into a winner, “There are no magic wands.”
Stoops arrived in Lexington less than 18 hours after helping the Seminoles beat Georgia Tech 21-15 for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship and a likely BCS berth in the Orange Bowl.
Stoops led Seminoles defense that ranked second in the nation this season and came up with a last-minute interception on Saturday night to preserve their victory over the Yellow Jackets.
Stoops is the third and youngest brother from the famed coaching family to lead his own program. Older brother Bob is Oklahoma’s head coach and Mike Stoops, the former coach at Arizona, is the Sooners’ defensive coordinator.
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.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Could Kentucky have its new football coach even though Saturday UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart said the job had not been offered to anyone?
Aaron Cordero of bleedbluekentucky.com says sources have told him UK has found a coach to succeed Joker Phillips and that the announcement could be made in the next two days.
Maybe it is 47-year-old Mike MacIntyre, the current head coach of San Jose State who is making about $500,000 annually now. His team won 52-43 over Louisiana Tech — which is led by possible UK coaching target Sonny Dykes — on Saturday night to run its record to 10-2. That’s a big jump fro 1-12 in his first year at San Jose State in 2010 or even 5-7 last year. His team is ranked 26th in this week’s AP poll.
His father, George, was an assistant coach at Miami, Tampa, Clemson and Vanderbilt before becoming head coach at Tennessee-Martin and finally the head coach at Vanderbilt from 1979-85. The San Jose State coach played safety at Vanderbilt for two seasons before transferring to Georgia Tech. He was a graduate assistant at Georgia before becoming defensive coordinator at Davidson College in 1992, Tennessee-Martin from 1993-96 and Temple from 1997-98. From 1999-2002 he coached receivers and then defensive backs at Ole Miss before spending five seasons in the NFL (four with Dallas and one with the New York Jets). He went to Duke as defensive coordinator in 2008 and got the San Jose State two years later.
He signed a contract extension through the 2017 in January of this year, but obviously there would be no huge buyout and even making what Phillips did would be a huge pay increase for him and his staff.
A radio station in San Jose was the first to report Sunday that MacIntyre had been offered the job.
One college football bowl official who knows MacIntyre says he has connections that could make him a solid fit at UK.
“He worked with Bill Parcells with the Cowboys after Parcells talked to UK about taking the job before he went to Dallas and UK got Rich Brooks,” the bowl official said. “He is a really good coach who knows the south. He’s well respected and comes off really well when he is recruiting from what I have been told. He’s a sincere, good guy.
“He’s done a good job with that program. It was horrible when he got there. They have a good defense and only got hammered when they played a spread offense that Utah State had and then they had trouble stopping Louisiana Tech. But his forte is defense. His offensive talent is really good this year, his defensive talent is not as good. But I would think he would go get two strong coordinators if he comes to Kentucky.”
The Western Athletic Conference has been full of UK rumors as Utah State’s Gary Anderson once was thought to be on UK’s list. His team won the conference and ranks eighth in the nation in scoring defense (15.4 points per game), eighth nationally in sacks (3.25 per game), 13th in the country in rushing defense (111.4 yards per game), 14th in the nation in pass efficiency defense (107.0), 16th in the nation in total defense (322.7 yards per game) and 37th in the nation in passing defense (211.2 yards per game). However, sources have said he’s happy at Utah State and let UK know that.
What about Dykes, a former UK assistant coach under Hal Mumme who led Louisiana Tech to a 9-3 mark despite ending the season with losses to Utah State in overtime and San Jose State? Is he out?
Maybe. Maybe not. Some close to the UK search still think Barnhart plans to talk to him. Maybe he’s the one Kentucky really wants. His offense averages around 50 points per game to lead the nation and to win back the UK fan base, the Cats need to play an exciting brand of football. Dykes’ forte is offense, MacIntyre’s forte is defense. Barnhart may sense which direction UK fans might prefer.
Dykes is also being mentioned more prominently with several other coaching jobs. North Carolina State, Purdue and Auburn all fired coaches Sunday. California, Arkansas and Tennessee have also done so along with Kentucky.
“From what I hear, Sonny Dykes is still hot and should be hot. He’s a terrific coach, is relatively young and has a great offense that generates excitement. I’ll be stunned if he doesn’t have a lot of options this week,” the bowl official said.
“I hope Mitch can make a great hire but the competition for the quality coaches continues to increase and UK is probably at the bottom of the list in terms of desirability. To me, Auburn, Tennessee, Arkansas and even N.C. State have more football appeal. I think Mitch has to strike fast to get an A-plus hire.”