LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops must be doing something right. His name is right up there among candidates being mentioned in connection with the Florida State football coaching job which opened up when Willie Taggart was fired on Sunday.
FSU says it would like to have a coach in place by the end of the season, or soon after. Stoops' name in connection with the job isn't surprising.
He's done an outstanding job in building Kentucky, from two wins his first season to 10 wins and a bowl victory over Penn State last season. He has recruited well, and built without shortcuts in the nation's marquee college football conference.
He also has FSU ties, as defensive coordinator there under Jimbo Fisher to 2010 to 2012. He had a prominent hand in building the defense that won the 2013 College Football Playoff championship. He also has ties in the state of Florida, having coached at both South Florid and Miami.
But when asked about reports speculating that he could be a natural candidate for the prestigious job, Stoops said at his regular news conference Monday that he'll take a page from the playbook of basketball coach John Calipari.
"Every year he's going to the NBA, right?" Stoops said. "You just dismiss it and concentrate on the things you can control. I'm not going to get into speculation."
Still, it's difficult not to get into the speculation, especially if players or recruits begin to see it on television and social media.
"It's just a little bit absurd how fast things go," Stoops said. "People like to get out in front of their skis really far in that world. So, that needs to be addressed (with recruits) but nothing that we can't handle. . . . I promise you the guys in our building, they're not going to worry about anything except getting ready for Tennessee. All the folks that think it will be a distraction, I can promise you it won't."
Because of his success in Lexington, Stoops has as much job security as anyone in the country. His contract rolls over every time he wins seven games, and will be extended by one year every time he wins 10. He makes a salary of $4.25 million, which ranks among the top 30 in the nation, and gets a $250,000 raise each season. The buyout is $1.75 million, which wouldn't likely be an issue for a school that just raised $20 million to buy out its old coach.
Among the top names mentioned by the Tallahassee Democrat are Stoops' brother, Bob Stoops, Iowa State coach Matt Campbell, Minnesota's P.J. Fleck and Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
Mark Stoops didn't rule himself out, but said he didn't want to comment specifically about job speculation.
"It's something that you don't really want to address in season," Stoops said. "I guess it's better than the alternative. For us, for myself, it's 100 percent concentration on Tennessee. That's all I want, that's all I want our team to focus on. That's all you can do. I guess with success, you're going to have some of that."
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