Kentucky hires FSU assistant Mark Stoops as coach

Associated Press Modified: November 27, 2012 at 10:16 pm •  Published: November 27, 2012
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky has hired Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops as the Wildcats' football coach.

Stoops replaces Joker Phillips, who was fired on Nov. 4. Phillips went 13-24 in three seasons at Kentucky and the Wildcats were 0-8 in the Southeastern Conference this year.

Kentucky made the announcement on Tuesday and the 45-year-old Stoops will be introduced here at a news conference on Sunday. No. 13 Florida State (10-2) plays Georgia Tech Saturday in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

Terms of Stoops' contract with Kentucky were not released. His salary with the Seminoles was $550,000 a year. He should definitely receive a raise in his new position; Phillips' annual salary was $1.7 million.

Stoops' hiring concludes a quicker-than-expected coaching search by the university. After Saturday's season-ending loss at Tennessee, Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said he had no timetable to find a replacement for Phillips.

But it didn't take long for Barnhart and the Wildcats to make a move. The decision makes Stoops a head coach for the first time in his career.

"I want to thank (Kentucky) President Eli Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart for this opportunity," Stoops said in a statement. "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."

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said after the Seminoles' practice Tuesday that Stoops will coach Saturday's game but that he hadn't talked with him about coaching through a bowl appearance. Stoops did not talk to reporters after the workout.

Stoops becomes the third brother in college football's famed coaching family to lead his own program. Older brother Bob Stoops is the head coach at Oklahoma and Mike Stoops is the Sooners' defensive coordinator. Before joining the Oklahoma staff this year, Mike was the head coach at Arizona.

"He's earned it," Bob Stoops said of his brother. "He's done really well everywhere he's been. I know he's really prepared for the job."

Bob said his advice to Mark is to trust his instincts.

"When you get one of those positions, everybody wants to tell you what to do," the OU coach said. "That's how it was for me. I didn't let anyone hurry me. I took it at my own pace, trusted my guy and my instincts on what I wanted to do, and fortunately it worked out."

Mark Stoops has been the Seminoles' defensive coordinator the past three seasons. Florida State's defense was ranked 108th when he took over and he has turned the Seminoles into one of the nation's top defensive teams.

The Seminoles have the nation's second-ranked defense, giving up 249.4 yards per game. Kentucky allowed 391 yards a contest this season and ranked 11th in the 14-team conference.



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