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Kentucky names Mark Stoops as new head coach

Nick Walsome, Mark Stoops AP

After 13 firings/retirings, we finally have an official hiring on the coaching carousel.

Monday, Jimbo Fisher denied reports that his defensive coordinator had interviewed for any head-coaching jobs, including Kentucky.  A day later, his defensive coordinator has been hired by Kentucky.

In a press release confirming earlier radio reports, UK announced that it has indeed hired FSU coordinator Mark Stoops as its new head coach.  Stoops, the brother of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops and former Arizona head coach Mike Stoops, will replace Joker Phillips, who was fired a little over three weeks ago after three seasons at his alma mater.

“New beginnings always provide a sense of excitement,” athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement.  “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.

The hiring comes one day after a report surfaced that Stoops, along with Louisiana Tech’s Sonny Dykes and Cincinnati’s Butch Jones, had told UK “no thanks” when it came to the school’s interest.

Stoops has spent the past three seasons in Tallahassee, transforming the Seminoles’ defense into one of the top units in the country.  He also served as his brother Mike’s coordinator at Arizona for six years before moving on to FSU after the 2009 season.

This will be 45-year-old’s first head-coaching job at any level.

“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.”

As for the makeup of Stoops’ first UK staff, there are already rumors that Neal Brown, current Texas Tech offensive coordinator, will assume the same position in Lexington.  Brown was teammates with Tim Couch, the former UK quarterback who played a role in the current search for a new head coach.

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28 Responses to “Kentucky names Mark Stoops as new head coach”
  1. thegamecocker says: Nov 27, 2012 3:13 PM

    I’m surprised they got him but that was a good hire by Kentucky! Experienced coach with decent pedigree. Well played, Kentucky!

  2. ningenito78 says: Nov 27, 2012 3:25 PM

    I agree gamecocker. Great hire. Even though it is and always will be a basketball school, at the very least being in the SEC gives any program the chance to become a sleeping giant with the right coach.

  3. scalpemseminoles says: Nov 27, 2012 3:25 PM


  4. southernpatriots says: Nov 27, 2012 3:25 PM

    Like thegamecocker, I am surprised. Maybe when head coaches state their assistants have not been interviewed for a head coaching position, I should just take that with a grain of salt, but I certainly was not looking in that direction after Jimbo’s statement. It is a good hire for Kentucky. I wish Coach Stoops the best.

    I hope somehow Coach Stoops received some guarantees from the UK AD and Board that they will work to improve the football department and will work to bring them into excellence. I hope they are not just looking at beating Western Kentucky and winning a couple other games and that’s it. Best to Coach Stoops!

  5. ningenito78 says: Nov 27, 2012 3:27 PM

    First thing I would do if I was Stoops is go on a recruiting trip with Coach Cal. Learn from the best. Maybe he’ll get access to the slush fund he’s using….

  6. teedraper says: Nov 27, 2012 3:29 PM

    He’s white so I’m SURE he’ll get enough time to turn the program around.

  7. scalpemseminoles says: Nov 27, 2012 3:39 PM

    teedraper says:
    Nov 27, 2012 3:29 PM
    He’s white so I’m SURE he’ll get enough time to turn the program around.


    because joker phillips had ZERO time to accumulate his 13-24 record

  8. thegamecocker says: Nov 27, 2012 4:10 PM


    Now THAT’S thinking out of the box and is a GREAT IDEA! Bring Coach Cal with you and recruit and listen to his pitch to the parents and what he is promising. Do the same thing but selling the fact the kid will get a solid education while playing in the finest conference in the land.

  9. jimbo75025 says: Nov 27, 2012 4:16 PM

    Well, I think Stoops is a good hire for UK. Also probably eliminates any chance of Bobby Petrino getting an SEC job.

  10. ningenito78 says: Nov 27, 2012 4:25 PM

    There’s not a better recruiter in the country in any sport. Learn from the best.

  11. thegamecocker says: Nov 27, 2012 4:27 PM


    Can you see Patrino at school like Colorado? The Minnesota job should open up because Coach Kill is going to kill himself and I’m not being funny with that statement. I think Coach Kill should get out of that profession. Anyway, Patrino at a job like Southern Miss where he can have the freedom to build his program and re-build his life is also a possible destination point. Unless Auburn decides to take a chance on him, I don’t see him in the SEC. Tennessee is too good a school to risk taking Bobby P. But it’s right up Auburn’s alley. If successful, it could save Jay Jacobs job. He is as low as they come though. According to Paul Feinbaum, he has screwed his friends over royally to save his own hide.

  12. ningenito78 says: Nov 27, 2012 4:29 PM

    Assuming of course that isn’t somehow illegal under NCAA’s ‘head in the sand’ bylaws.

  13. 3ebfan says: Nov 27, 2012 4:44 PM

    Thanks tee draper for providing me with the dumbest comment I’ve read all day. The program was winning before joker drove it into the ground, so what did he have to turn around? Race be damned, bottom line is philips wasn’t ready to be a head coach at this level, and it showed. But of course he was fired because he was black. What a joke…r.

  14. ningenito78 says: Nov 27, 2012 4:49 PM

    3ebfan- he’s just rising whatever wave Embree made at his out going press conference yesterday. And Stephen A. Smith and company were going on and on about it in First Take today. He’s just regurgitating that noise. I will say a Rooney Rule type thing wouldn’t be a bad idea in college football. The numbers are a little crazy. But Joker Phillips deserved to lose his job. No question.

  15. tigersgeaux says: Nov 27, 2012 4:53 PM

    ningenito78 and 3ebfan: Thank you for putting to words what I was thinking but could not put it as well as you both did. This was a racial thing, it was something that had to be done to have a chance at reversing the recent negative trend. A Rooney Rule would be welcomed by me. Thank you both again.

  16. tigersgeaux says: Nov 27, 2012 4:59 PM

    I meant to post, “This was NOT a racial thing.” Just goes to prove what I said in my post above, I could not put it in words. Thanks again.

  17. jimbo75025 says: Nov 27, 2012 5:39 PM


    I think even in their down state, I think Colorado may still be a bit “high profile” to hire Petrino right now.

    I could certainly see Patrino going to a school “like” Southern Miss, but just elsewhere in the country. Southern Miss has had enough success in the past that they are still semi on everyone’s radar. For an AD to take a chance on Bobby P, it is going to take an AD and a school that has nothing to lose by taking a chance on him.

  18. dmvtransplant says: Nov 27, 2012 6:18 PM

    Please he couldn’t win at Arizona and his lack of ability to be a head coach only shows considering Rich Rod using the guys beat USC this year.

    Race card or not this is a bad hire. Real equality is when their are an equal amount of bad black coaches as bad white coaches. In that respect I think the NFL is better at that with Kansas City & San Diego or the Vikings & Detroit.

    I think he would have done better at Southern Miss, Houston or Texas as a coach in-waiting.

  19. brewcrewfan54 says: Nov 27, 2012 6:50 PM

    While learning recruting from Calipari would be a good thing the fact remains it will alwys be easy recruting Kentucky basketball. Kentucky football is going to be a tough sell.

  20. canehouse says: Nov 27, 2012 6:57 PM

    Glad for 2 reasons… 1st is I know him and it’s about time… 2nd is he won’t be coaching every year against Miami anymore.

  21. ningenito78 says: Nov 27, 2012 7:58 PM

    Please he couldn’t win at Arizona and his lack of ability to be a head coach only shows considering Rich Rod using the guys beat USC this year.

    That’s probably because it was his brother Mike Stoops that was the head coach at Arizona.

  22. 11inthebox says: Nov 27, 2012 8:02 PM

    @ tigersgeaux and ningenito78:

    Well done. Clearly both you guys “get it” when it comes to the thorny issue of modern race relations. Thanks for stating your ideas so clearly and thoughtfully.

    But for the life of me I don’t understand why so many others (and I’m presuming they’re white men—both in this particular thread and in general) get almost hysterical at the mention of anything race related.

    Black folks comprise just 12% of the population, which means we’re not “taking over” anything.

    I just think if people had a more diverse group of close friends, they wouldn’t feel so threatened by these discussions.

    Just a thought.

  23. houndofthebaskervols says: Nov 27, 2012 8:04 PM

    Kentucky is a coaching graveyard. Ya’ll can start writing Stoops obituary already.

  24. tigersgeaux says: Nov 27, 2012 8:36 PM


    I have a diverse group of friends because of my association with southernpatriots and working on neighborhood watch and the Appalachian Outreach each year, along with doctors and dentists from various places throughout the southeast. A confession from me, it was no praise due to me. I grew up in a plain vanilla community and all through school and for the most part through college. I have had my life enriched and expanded so much during the past decade that I can’t describe. I am humbled by your recognition, but I don’t deserve it.

    Stay strong. MLK Jr. had a dream that we would look on the heart of a man, not on the color of his skin. Jesus said, “Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart.” Thanks again.

  25. 35longmiles says: Nov 27, 2012 9:27 PM

    Florida State’s defense has drastically improved since Stoops joined Jimbo Fisher’s staff in 2010, climbing from the 108th ranked overall defense in 2009 to No. 2 nationally this season, allowing just less than 250 yards a game. FSU is fourth in rushing defense, sixth in passing defense and seventh in scoring defense.
    That was all fine and dandy until the moles met a physical offense. Say what you will about UF’s lack of stats but NOBODY can deny that they are a hard nosed tough unit. The Gators gashed FSU for 249 yards rushing and completely dominated time of possession. The game wasn’t as close as the 10 point margin of victory suggests.
    UK doesn’t have anything that remotely resembles FSU in terms of stature. But making the jump from the ACC to the SEC is simply a no brainier. You can argue that he went because it was a promotion from DC to HC, true, but he like.y would have politely declined a HC position at many schools to stay where he was.(( cough:: ACC schools ::cough ))
    Congratulations to Mark Stoops. I wonder if he knows that his program has a twenty five year losing streak to UF. Knock off the Gators and you will be a hero (sort of) at this BASKETBALL school. Welcome to the SEC Mr. stoops.

    He will always be at a major recruiting disadvantage.

  26. norcalirish says: Nov 28, 2012 8:35 AM

    Could not be more irrelevant.

  27. florida727 says: Nov 28, 2012 8:41 AM

    I have a good friend who graduated from UK and is, of course, a diehard fan of the ‘Cats. While acknowledging the obvious, that it’s a basketball school first and foremost, their football program literally does bring in more revenue to the school than the basketball program. Sounded odd, but he swears it’s true. Guessing it’s the equally shared TV revenue that the SEC dictates.

    Anyway, I still laugh every time I look at the “I Still Hate Laettner” shirt he sent me years ago.

  28. ukcatsfan says: Nov 28, 2012 8:49 AM

    I am glad to see they went after a coach who values defense. Even when UK had a good offense the only way they could win was scoring at high rates because the defense couldn’t hold anybody down. Glad to have Mr. Stoops and excited to see what he can do in the SEC!

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