Mark Stoops’ contract has entered somebody’s crosshairs.
Jennifer X. Williams of The Spun composed a list of the top five overpaid coaches in college football. Atop the list was Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh. At the bottom was Kentucky’s Mark Stoops. Williams’ rationale:
2017 salary: $3.75 million
Where it ranked nationally: No. 22
Win/loss record to date: 26-36
Last year, Mark Stoops signed a contract extension through 2022. His new deal will pay him upwards of $4.75 million between 2021-22. And yet Stoops has only produced two winning seasons in which the Wildcats were barely over .500.
“Barely over .500” does not sound good to an outsider, but it sounds much better than the 2-10 seasons Kentucky fans suffered through for many years. Expectations are relative, and Kentucky football’s don’t go much further than bowl eligibility.
It’s all not a good idea to compare Stoops’ salary to the rest of the nation. The SEC pays its coaches more than any other conference. Now the most tenured coach in the SEC East, Stoops’ salary ranked tenth in the conference in 2017.
However, there are quite a few Stoops naysayers that would agree with Williams. Stoops has consecutive seven-win seasons, but has failed to get his team over the top in big games against the best opponents (see: Auburn, Georgia and Florida twice).
Taking the next step will not be easy against next year’s schedule. But if Stoops can get to eight wins in 2018, nobody will describe him as “overpaid,” especially if the Cats can take down Florida, Georgia or Texas A&M.