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.