Kentucky officially announced Mark Stoops, presently the defensive coordinator at Florida State, as its head coach on Tuesday afternoon. Stoops, in his third season at Florida State, took over a unit that ranked 108th nationally in total defense the year before his arrival.
Stoops instantly upgraded the Seminoles' defense, quickly transforming Florida State into one of the elite defenses in the nation, boosting their total defense ranking to 42nd in 2010, fourth in 2011 and second in 2012. Stoops is a nominee for this year's FootballScoop Defensive Coordinator of the Year award.
Since word broke, we have reached out to a number of coaches and every one of them thinks this is a tremendous hire. Stoops is regarded not only as a great defensive mind, but as a successful, energetic recruiter.
Like his older brothers Bob and Mike, Mark Stoops' career began as a graduate assistant at Iowa in 1990-91. Stoops worked on Jim Leavitt's staff in South Florida's inaugural football season before moving to coach defensive backs under Dana Dimel at Wyoming. After a one-year stay as the co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Houston, Stoops helped Miami to a 35-3 overall record and a national championship as the defensive backs coach from 2001-03.
Stoops then worked as the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach for his brother Mike at Arizona, helping the Wildcats improve from consecutive three-win seasons to consecutive eight-win seasons while boosting Arizona's defensive ranking by more than 80 spots. Stoops assumed the defensive coordinator role under head coach Jimbo Fisher at Florida State in 2010.
"Mark's passion has been evident in the way he coaches and in his love for the game of football," said Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart in the school's official statement. "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 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."
For anyone curious for more information on Stoops, Kentucky has created an official Mark Stoops landing page.