Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops would be a sound choice at Kentucky.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – There are many playbooks an athletic director can follow while hiring a football coach – the hot young assistant; the former NFL guy; the small college offensive guru, the popular alum.
Kentucky has tried them all – with mixed results. It's a complex and difficult job trying to win in the SEC East at Kentucky for all the reasons (tradition, recruiting base, facilities, superior competition) that we have discussed for years.
As I wrote was possible on Sunday, Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart has followed the Tom Jurich Playbook by settling on Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. Barnhart confirmed the news Tuesday afternoon.
And as John Clay at the Herald-Leader in Lexington has written, former UK receiver Neal Brown is getting strong consideration as the school's next offensive coordinator. Brown directed the nation's No. 12 offense at Texas Tech. Brown played at Boyle County High School.
"They tried to hook the two guys up," a source close to the situation told me.
Like Strong, Stoops has strong ties to Florida – critical in building a recruiting base. Like Strong, Stoops has built one of the best defenses in the nation as FSU's defensive coordinator. Like Strong, Stoops has connections to multiple successful head coaches – Jimbo Fisher, Bob Stoops, Larry Coker.
Stoops would even give UK several bonuses – he is the younger brother of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops And he played high school football in Youngstown, Ohio, another area that Kentucky needs to tap in recruiting.
Is he a slam dunk?
Hardly. There are no slam dunks. Check the landscape. Even Florida, Tennessee and Auburn don't always find the right guy.
Bob Stoops has delivered at Oklahoma, but Oklahoma has the football tradition to carry a bunch of guys. Stoops has another brother named Mike. He whiffed at Arizona – and the Kentucky job is closer to the Arizona job than the Oklahoma job.