Mark Stoops introduced, lays out his plan
Posted by: Chris Vannini on Sunday December 02, 2012
Posted by: Chris Vannini on December 2, 2012
With the hiring and introduction of Mark Stoops, Kentucky has already made a point that football will be given the support from the school.
On Sunday, Kentucky held an introductory press conference at the indoor football practice facility with plenty of fanfare. Boosters, players, former players and fans were invited to show up, and the band provided entertainment before the press conference.
Stoops entered through an inflatable football helmet and came to the stage through an aisle of people on both sides.
"So this is what the Big Blue Nation is all about, huh?" Stoops said. "I appreciate this. I've been hearing a lot about it, and I appreciate you being here. It's a great honor for me to be the head football coach at the University of Kentucky."
Stoops comes to Kentucky after three years as the defensive coordinator / defensive backs coach at Florida State. He replaces Joker Phillips, whom many felt didn't get enough support from the school, but whose record got worse over his three seasons, culminating in a 2-10 season this year, including 0-8 in the SEC.
Stoops said he contacted Kentucky about his interest in the job, and he accepted the position without having even stepped foot on campus.
He knows it's going to take a strong effort from all involved to turn around the program, and he made his plea to the fans in attendance.
"I'm highly motivated to build this program to national prominence," Stoops said. "There will be no magic wands to getting this done. We're very much of a blue-collar mentality. We're going to go to work each and every day, we're going to be accountable and dependable in what we do. Our players are going to be tremendous character and we're going to win in the institution and win with a lot of class.
"The one thing I ask you to do is, I ask the Big Blue Nation to fill Commonwealth Stadium each and every week next year."
As for staff members, Stoops didn't reveal much. He hasn't met with the current assistants, and will still determine if any will remain on his staff. He didn't want to comment on Florida State coaches, either. He did say he will interview a few offensive coordinator candidates in the coming days.
"We're going to have an offense that you guys are going to enjoy, I promise you that," Stoops said. "We're going to have an offense that you're going to be proud of. We're going to get out there and rip it around out there. We're going to throw it. You have to be creative.
"I'm a defensive guy. This is the SEC, it's a very physical conference, and I realize that. I want to be tough and I want to be physical, and we have to build this foundation with great defense. If you don't play great defense, you're not going to win in the SEC."
Stoops said he talked with basketball coach John Calipari a few times and is looking forward to using the basketball program to help sell his football program. Stoops hasn't met with all the current football players, but did have a message for them.
"A lot of coaches take these positions and try to scare them and tell them how hard it's going to be. It's going to be hard. There's no way around that. We're going to work hard, we're going to train hard, we're going to do things right. They're going to be accountable, and they're going to be dependable. There's just no way around that to be successful.
"But I'm going to enjoy coaching them. They're going to enjoy playing for us. They're going to enjoy being a part of this Kentucky family, and they're going to hold their heads high walking around this campus.
If Stoops wanted to win over fans at his introduction, he certainly did that. On the topic of helping FSU in the bowl game, Stoops didn't know how much he would do, but he did earn a big cheer when he said he'd certainly help the Seminoles if they play Louisville.
Chris Vannini is the lead writer for CoachingSearch.com and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and MLive.com. He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org