ESPN has released an article ranking the top 15 new college football hires, and coming in at #2 were the Kentucky Wildcats’ hire of Florida State Defensive Coordinator Marks Stoops:
The more I learn about the youngest of the three college-coaching Stoops brothers, the more I like about what Mitch Barnhart did in luring him to Lexington. Stoops turned around Florida State’s defense in short order, which was impressive (and why he got the job), but I really like the way he’s gone about hiring a young, respected staff. As Lexington columnist John Clay noted, Stoops is 45 and his staff has an average of 39.4 years old.
But the relative age does not mean the assistants are bereft of accomplishments and praise. Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot, 36, was a priority for Stoops. Eliot was his right-hand man in helping the FSU D go from 42nd in yards per game in 2010 to fourth in 2011 and second in 2012.
But in particular, I loved the hire of former Texas Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown as the new Kentucky offensive coordinator. Three Big 12 O-coordinators got head jobs, and the 32-year-old Brown likely will not be far behind them. In the meantime, Stoops has a bright recruiter and offensive mind; that was important for a coach known for his work on defense. It reminded me, sort of, of when Stoops’ brother Bob hired Mike Leach as his first O-coordinator at Oklahoma.
Will the staff immediately make Kentucky a winner? Probably not. Florida, Georgia and South Carolina have a hold on the division. But the Wildcats might soon start making waves. They could pick off a team here or there, eventually getting a foothold. Stoops and his staff will get into Ohio to recruit and Kentucky is more talent-rich than some might realize.
The UK basketball team may be unranked, but that’s not the case with the baseball team, as the Bat Cats are the #8 team in the preseason top-40 poll released by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper top-40 poll. After leading his team to a 45-win season and a birth into the NCAA Tournament in 2012, Gary Henderson’s ball-club is the highest ranked UK squad in a preseason ranking in the 117-years of the program.
And in case you missed it, “Going Big,” the ESPN Film’s documentary on former UK All-American Sam Bowie aired tonight on ESPNU. Make sure to check for re-runs if you missed it, because it was a must-watch for any Cats fan.