In case you live under a rock, Mark Stoops was introduced as the head football coach at Kentucky today in a live press conference. President Eli Capiluto and athletic director Mitch Barnhart were also at the podium. Those in attendance agreed that the press conference was the most elaborate production regarding UK football that they have seen. If today was any indication, including the crowd that gathered to meet his plane on the runway, the new era of UK supporting football has begun.
Stoops was the picture of professionalism, holding sway over a room upwards of 300 bodies. He wasn’t rattled despite many media members best efforts. (I’m looking at YOU Alan Cutler) He had a clear message and was unapologetic in his goal to win SEC championships at Kentucky. He made no excuses about how difficult it is and I believe him. When he speaks, he sounds like a tough winning football coach.
Coach Stoops wasn’t able to comment on facilities upgrades or his intended coaching staff. Barnhart fielded the facilities questions, saying that they are in the process of getting facilities and a lot is in the legislature’s hands at this point. Stoops couldn’t comment on coaches that aren’t employed at UK right now. He said that he more or less has his defensive staff set up and will be out talking to offensive assistant candidates this week. When asked about retaining any current assistants, especially offensive line coach Mike Summers, Stoops said that they would “absolutely” be considered. I would expect Summers to be retained.
Most interestingly, he revealed that he did, in fact, seek out Barnhart because he wanted the job. The assorted media was incredulous but Stoops genuinely wanted to coach the Kentucky Wildcats. He studied the job and decided that he could win here. That has to excite anyone who follows the football Wildcats.
In regards to recruiting, he started off by saying that he intends to recruit Kentucky hard. He admitted that the Commonwealth has less than average talent but said that it’s his job to keep the best home, which will satisfy the many who have complained of the best local talent leaving the state in recent years. He also plans to use his Ohio and Florida connections to get UK into those talent-rich states which they’ve struggled in. He also wants to hit North and South Carolina, along with Georgia for players.
If you are worried that Kentucky will become a “boring” defensive team, if such a thing exists, don’t fret. Coach Stoops plans to get an offensive coordinator who will throw the ball around and be creative. I think that was a subtle nod to Neal Brown, the popular Kentucky-native/Texas Tech OC. Barnhart made a point of saying that money for assistants would not be an issue.
A very exciting time for Kentucky football.