Kentucky football could only come up with two wins in 2012, but it added another win on Sunday afternoon when Mitch Barnhart and Eli Capilouto introduced Mark Stoops as the new head coach. Stoops handled the elaborate press conference (complete with music, cheerleaders, and a fog machine!) as well as anyone could have, responding to each question with a confident swagger as to how he plans to take this program to the next level. It was a near-perfect introduction into Big Blue Nation and one that has the fan base ready for some football.
Here are 10 takeaways from the afternoon in Nutter Fieldhouse.
1. Stoops is excited to be a part of Big Blue Nation.
When asked what stood out to him about the Kentucky job, Stoops quickly and passionately responded, “THE BIG BLUE NATION.”
“It felt like a gameday,” he said of the atmosphere when he arrived to Nutter Fieldhouse. “I’m here. I’m working for you now. I’m part of the Big Blue Nation and that’s where I want to be.”
2. UK already has its defensive coordinator.
Mark Stoops said he has his defensive coordinator “targeted” and “ready to come” to Kentucky. However, he wouldn’t reveal the names of any candidates, specifically staff members at Florida State, out of respect for their current players.
“It’s not fair to those players right now,” he said when asked about the likelihood of other Seminole coaches joining him in Lexington.
All signs point to current Florida State defensive line coach D.J. Eliot. Multiple websites reported Eliot to UK late last week.
3. He’ll begin interviewing offensive coordinators soon.
Stoops said he plans to begin the interview process for his offensive coordinator position very soon. “I’m going to head out on the road and talk to people and get the offense started fast,” he said.
He called the offense his first priority and he has a few candidates in mind. He’ll interview them about the position this week.
4. The offense will be exciting.
Stoops knows it takes defense to win in the SEC; he’ll build the new foundation of the program around a strong, physical defense. But that doesn’t mean the offense will be a ground-and-pound snoozefest.
“We’re going to have an offense that you guys are going to enjoy,” he said. “I promise you that.”
He plans to be creative with the offensive playbook. Kentucky will have a physical presence, but it will spread it out and use some bells and whistles to get the run game going.
“We’re going to throw it around.”
RIP bubble screen.
5. Return of the Air Raid?
Tim Couch, who played a big role in bringing Stoops to Kentucky, is pushing for Neal Brown to take the offensive coordinator job. Couch was available to reporters after the press conference and he was very supportive of a potential Neal Brown hire. The former UK quarterback’s advice goes a long way with Stoops in the OC search; Stoops said he will lean on Couch for some ideas.
Couch also said Patrick Towles should be “very happy” about Stoops’ plans for the offense.
6. Ohio will get hit hard in recruiting.
Stoops plans to make the most of his connections in his home state. He said he’s going to hit Ohio hard on the recruiting trail.
Kentucky will also be a priority, obviously. He said he wants to “take care of our home” and keep the SEC caliber players from leaving the state.
After Kentucky and Ohio, Stoops said the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida will get the most attention.
7. Kentucky will use a 4-3 defense.
Sorry, Rick Minter.
The Cats will be very defined defensively and use a 4-3 personnel.
8. Mark Stoops is a player’s coach.
“We’re going to work hard, train hard and do things right. The players are going to be accountable and dependable. I’m going to enjoy coaching them , they’re going to enjoy playing for us, and they’re going to hold their heads high walking around this campus.”
Stoops said he’s never had a problem with discipline and he doesn’t expect to here in Kentucky. He called it his style to find different ways to motivate players and get them on board.
9. Stoops has a plan: Win the SEC.
Mark Stoops isn’t kidding around about his goals for Kentucky football. He wants to make it to the SEC Championship game and he wants to win it.
“We have what it takes to be successful here,” he said. “We need to develop it and turn Kentucky into a consistent winner.”
Tim Couch said he and Mitch Barnhart were impressed by Stoops’ thought-out plan before he was even hired. Stoops already had a response and a plan for everything they asked him during the interview process.
10. It didn’t take long for him to take a shot at Louisville.
Stoops said he will continue to help Florida State in any way he can as the Seminoles prepare for their bowl game… especially if they play Louisville.
“We’re going to embrace the rivalry and I’m really looking forward to it.”
And we’re looking forward to the Mark Stoops era of Kentucky football.