LEXINGTON — Mark Stoops, who oversaw dramatic improvements as defensive coordinator at Florida State and Arizona, and has turned FSU into one of the nation’s top defenses, has been named head football coach at the University of Kentucky, UK director of athletics Mitch Barnhart announced Tuesday.
“New beginnings always provide a sense of excitement,” Barnhart said. “That’s why today I’m excited for Mark Stoops and his family as they provide a new beginning for our football program, fans and players.
“Mark’s passion has been evident in the way he coaches and in his love for the game of football. That passion carried over into our process and his desire to wear the Blue and White. Our desire to get better defensively and continue to expand our recruiting base helped guide us to Mark. He comes from a coaching family and has been in big games and big atmospheres throughout his career. That has prepared him for this opportunity to become head coach at Kentucky. We welcome Mark, Chantel, Will and Zack to the Big Blue Nation.”
“I enjoyed my time this week with Coach Stoops,” said Dr. Eli Capilouto, President of the University of Kentucky. “I am impressed with his commitment to student-athletes, both in the classroom and on the field. I am also deeply impressed with the way Mitch Barnhart has conducted this important process. I am confident that Coach Stoops has the character and skill to build the winning program the Big Blue Nation wants and deserves.”
Stoops has been defensive coordinator at FSU for three seasons, inheriting a unit ranked 108th in the NCAA in total defense and turning it into one of the nation’s best. Heading into Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference championship game with a 10-2 record and No. 13/12 national ranking, the Seminoles are second in the nation in total defense, allowing 249.4 yards per game, and seventh nationally in scoring defense at 15.1 points per game. Playing well against the run and the pass, FSU is fourth in the country in both rushing defense and pass efficiency defense. FSU leads the ACC in seven defensive categories. Stoops also coaches the defensive backs under head coach Jimbo Fisher.