As the college football coaching carousel started spinning at a breakneck pace, Big Blue Nation began wondering if Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops was going to jump on after his name was linked to several of the openings.
Well, the answer is NO!
Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart made sure that Stoops was staying firmly planted in Lexington.
The University announced Tuesday that Stoops has agreed in principle to a contract extension with amended terms.
Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops agrees to extension at UK
Once the amended contracts are signed by all parties it will now run through the 2027 season which would in theory end in the spring of 2028. However, in theory, this contract could go on and on because it guarantees extensions for any season with seven wins (one-year extension) or 10 wins (two-year extension).
In true Stoops fashion, he and Barnhart agreed on the terms a week or two ago according to Stoops, and shook on it Saturday.
He isn’t finished earning incentive money though. His base salary this season was $5.25 million with incentive opportunities. His contract automatically extended an additional year once UK won its seventh game.
He then picked up a $250,000 bonus with the team’s ninth win of the season against Louisville and another $250,000 is on the table if the Cats win their bowl game.
Stoops is out on the recruiting trail, and not on another college campus thankfully, talking to recruits in three different states supposedly. He issued a statement along with the university on the agreement.
“I’m excited to continue to build this program to national prominence, We’re on our way and I’m more confident in Kentucky football than I’ve ever been.
The Wildcats helped put a stamp of approval as well by blasting rival Louisville 52-21 on Saturday night to finish the season 9-3 and will be playing in a bowl for the sixth straight season, presumably either the Outback or Citrus Bowl.
Stoops Troops started the season 6-0 including wins over Florida and LSU. They should have beaten Tennessee but fell 45-42 and realistically should have beaten Mississippi State.
They rebounded with resounding wins over Vanderbilt, New Mexico State, and Louisville to wrap up the regular season.
Barnhart talked in the same statement about the job his football coach has done.
“We have been in discussion with Coach Stoops in recent weeks and are excited about his ongoing commitment to Kentucky, Coach Stoops he’s done an outstanding job in building the UK football program and we look forward to continued success under his leadership.”
Stoops, who turns 55 this July, just finished his ninth regular season at Kentucky. This season’s nine wins mark is the second time in the past four years for Stoops. He took over a program from Joker Phillips that had gone 2-10 and was a mess. He began laying the foundation for the success he is now reaping.
He went 12-26 before the true upside began to materialize through recruiting and practicing everything he preached. There was no sugar coating what he said needed to happen.
Since then he has reeled off a 46-27 record and has positioned himself where three more wins allow him to pass Paul “Bear” Bryant for the most wins in school history.
He has the bowl this year for one win and 2020 starts with Miami of Ohio and then at Florida. Breaking the record at Ben Hill Griffin stadium would be stunning. If not Youngstown State comes to Lexington in Week No. 3.
Kentucky President Eli Capiluto was also thrilled to keep Stoops part of the UK family.
“Our football and athletics programs have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to success for our students — on the field and in the classroom. Our football program, under Coach Stoops, has only strengthened the commitment that we have as an institution to putting students first in everything that we do. We are preparing our students for lives of meaning and purpose when they leave UK, no matter what path they take.”
That is in reference to Stoops’ demanding his players be successful both in the classroom and through community service. In his tenure, six players have been named Academic All-Americans and six players on this year’s squad are on the current national ballot for the award.
The release acknowledged the work in the community with six of Stoops’ Wildcats having been named to the Allstate National Good Works Team for community service, including Kenneth Horsey on this year’s squad. In 2017, Courtney Love won the Danny Wuerffel Trophy as the Football Bowl Subdivision player that best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement. In 2018, C.J. Conrad received the Pop Warner Award, a national honor given to a senior who has made a difference on the field, in the classroom, and in his community.
The enthusiasm at Kroger field and surrounding the football program has grown year after year and wherever they play on New Year’s Day will draw probably 40,000 plus fans painting either Tampa or Orlando blue and white.
While the exact details have not been announced it’s rumored and believed that facility upgrades were part of the agreement. Stoops has been pleading for a football-only practice facility that would rival those at other SEC powerhouse schools. Currently, they practice around a track that is also inside the Nutter Fieldhouse.
Barnhart has also added money to the recruiting budget as well. Now he just needs to make sure Big Dawg Vince Marrow is retained as well along with defensive coordinator Brad White and offensive coordinator Liam Coen.
Thanks, Coach, glad we have you for many more years to come.