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Eight Potential Kentucky Defensive Coordinator Candidates

Note: Originally posted after the news broke Friday, this morning Matt Jones reported House will in fact take the Chiefs’ job.  While we wait for confirmation from UK, here are eight candidates to become Kentucky’s defensive coordinator.  If I had my druthers, Brad White would get promoted to DC and hire Jon Sumrall to coach inside linebackers. 

This morning we woke to news from ESPN’s Field Yates that Matt House is expected to become the next linebackers coach for the Kansas City Chiefs.  The man who helped transform UK’s defense from 74th in scoring defense to sixth in just two seasons, losing House would obviously be a significant blow to the Kentucky football program, but it’s one Stoops can overcome.

The news is not yet finalized, leaving the door open for House to pull an Eddie Gran and return to UK.  If House does indeed go to the NFL for a chance to win a Super Bowl, there are more than a few capable candidates to fill the vacancy.

Mike Stoops — The first place fans typically turn to when there is a vacancy on Stoops’ staff is to brother Bob.  That isn’t going to happen, thanks to Vince McMahon.  However, Mike Stoops is a legitimate option.  Being an SEC defensive coordinator sounds more appealing than being an Alabama analyst.

There are two reasons why I don’t think it’s a good idea.  First, Mike Stoops’ defenses were never that great at Oklahoma.  Before he was fired, he only had one Top 25 scoring defense in seven years.  Second, Mark previously worked for his big brother Mike at Arizona.  Flipping those roles could end disastrously.

Steve Clinkscale — UK’s secondary coach has one year of defensive coordinator experience at Cincinnati, but I doubt Coach Clink would be the No. 1 inside hire candidate.

Dean Hood — UK’s special teams coordinator has head coaching experience at EKU and helped Wake Forest reach the Orange Bowl as the Demon Deacons defensive coordinator.  Hiring Hood might make sense from an X’s and O’s standpoint, but I can’t foresee him being able to recruit as well as House has over the last two years.

Jon Sumrall — The Alabama native played middle linebacker at Kentucky under Rich Brooks in the early 2000s.  From 2015-17 he served as Neal Brown’s assistant head coach.  Specializing in middle linebackers, Troy’s defense ranked in the Top 25 nationally in scoring and total defense in 2017.  He served as Ole Miss’ linebackers coach in 2018 and was a top candidate to replace Brown at Troy.  A rising star alumnus with an impressive resume, Sumrall checks all the boxes.

Ole Miss Athletics

John Jancek — Currently the defensive coordinator at Colorado State, Jancek served on UK’s quality control staff in 2017.  He previously called defenses for Butch Jones at Cincinnati and Tennessee.

Derrick Ansley — The former secondary coach left Stoops’ staff to coach for Nick Saban.  After leaving Alabama, Ansley was scooped up by Jon Gruden.  Two questions come into play for Ansley: Would he want to leave the NFL, and are there still hard feelings after he began recruiting against UK at Alabama?

Bo Pelini — Give me this everyday and twice on Sunday.  Childhood friends of Stoops and Marrow, the former Nebraska head coach would make Wednesday interview sessions more entertaining than ever before.  Pelini has done something nobody else can say over the last 20 years: make Nebraska relevant.  If he can do that, certainly he can make sure the Cats have continued defensive success.

Currently the head coach at Youngstown State, he took the Penguins to the FCS Title game in 2016.  A homebody, it would take some convincing to get Pelini to leave his hometown.  If anybody can do it, it’s Mark Stoops.  Besides, Pelini was destined to coach Cats.

Lincoln Journal Star

Brad White — This hire would make the most sense.  The former Indianapolis Colts coach turned Josh Allen into potentially the No. 1 overall pick.  Other programs and NFL teams have taken notice and tried to pry him away this offseason.  A promotion to defensive coordinator would certainly keep him around a little longer.

White has yet to reel in a ton of recruits, but he has the chops for it.  I’ve heard he’s thoroughly enjoyed his time on the road, and he was able to convince a couple four-star kids from the northeast to visit for Junior Day.  White does not have the experience, but Hood and Stoops have more than enough experience to help White tap into unlimited potential.

If UK does promote White, Stoops will still need an inside linebackers coach.  Jon Sumrall certainly fits that profile.  Purely speculative at this point, we first have to wait and see if House does in fact depart.  If so, we won’t know who will be Kentucky’s next defensive coordinator for at least a couple of weeks.


Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

28 Comments for Eight Potential Kentucky Defensive Coordinator Candidates

  1. bwise
    12:09 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

    This is completely different then gran. House has actually shown he’s good while gran’s number continuously get worse year by year. This is probably an actual offer while there is no proof of gran ever being offered and Georgia won’t admit offering gran. Anywho, lets hope he stays.

    • abobicesaevior
      4:08 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

      Is there ever any “proof” when that person doesn’t accept the job?

    • mashburnfan1
      7:11 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

      Gran was NEVER offered the OC job at UGA. He may have been offered the position of the guy they promoted to OC but not the play calling OC job. KSR knows it. Gran knows it. Still even if offered the other spot {it would be for his Florida recruiting} and he turned them down it speaks alot for UK. That said I wish we had a different OC unless he changes his play calls and found out you are allowed to throw the ball down the field.

    • natertatter
      8:33 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

      we went 10 and 3.stfu

    • Miller45
      9:02 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

      Impenetrable level of ignorance^^^^

    • Miller45
      9:05 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

      10 3 in spite of EG, not accredited to

    • mashburnfan1
      9:43 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

      Look I get the run Benny and be cautious but on 3rd and 8 you can’t throw 2 yard routes. Plus when a game plan does not work have a backup or switch on the fly. At UT Gran stated “well we thought we would be able to run on them” so they did without success until the game had no chance of being won. Then at A&M Gran thought we would not be able to run so he did not use Benny much DESPITE Benny averaging 4.5 yards per carry that game. Also a throw deep here and there will make the defense honest and not allow them to stack 8 at the line. The Wildcat can be useful but needs some options to it as we were so predictable.

    • shelby
      5:43 pm February 12, 2019 Permalink

      Throwing a 2 yard pass on 3rd and 8 is not gran’s fault. TW makes the decision at the snap to leave it with Benny or pull and throw. He ALWAYS left it with Benny.

  2. Alleykat16
    12:14 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

    I like the Bo or Brad hire. Bo is a proven winner and I love his attitude and promoting Brad helps in keeping him here and who knows what kind of defensive ideas he would have. But just maybe Coach Stoops could pry Bob from that experimental league.

    • Miller45
      4:47 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

      If Hood or White can get it done I would imagine staying in house would be the sensible option, keeping the scheme, already having familiarity between coaches and players, but you never know until you know

    • natertatter
      8:34 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink


  3. Alleykat16
    12:17 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

    And the people that keep bashing Gran let’s remember he hasn’t had a great qb to work with and only 2 quality receivers to catch the ball.

  4. RackEmWillie
    12:28 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

    Could Gran be both the OC and the DC? Probably go 15-0 next year if he did.

  5. RackEmWillie
    12:33 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

    But, with all snark about Gran aside, I would love to see it be Pelini. Dude has the personality of a dirty diaper, but he is a good coach. I think he would be the best option, by far. And because of his personality, he might not get many looks and interviews for other jobs.

  6. cats646
    3:24 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

    Bobby petrino??

  7. Miller45
    4:51 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

    If coach house is indeed going to KC then congratulations I am happy for him

  8. Logic_Prevails
    4:53 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

    I did not realize that about Pelini could be an option. That is my #1 Option. Then Promote Brad White and hire that Sumrall away from Ole Miss for when Brad White gets hired away.

  9. east-ky-boy
    5:30 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

    Let’s let Gran be our dc. He flat knows how to keep points from being on the board!

    • mashburnfan1
      7:12 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

      I really wanted to laugh at this, then it hit me how true it is and made me cry.

  10. dismore
    5:56 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

    Thin options

    • mashburnfan1
      7:15 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

      Not really, 3 very good options here. If we promote Brad and can get Jon that is awesome. Also getting Bo is awesome. No reason one of those could not happen. Also maybe, just maybe we don’t even need to replace him as he decides to wait for something bigger.

    • dcforuk
      10:48 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

      Sure, would live to get Bo. However, why in the world would he leave being the HC where he is? Despite the relationships, I am just trying to understand the logic of him leaving HC job @YS for a DC position (that is not a top 5 program). Maybe I am wrong about that but don’t think so…..

  11. Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
    11:53 pm February 8, 2019 Permalink

    Why Pelini comes here is Matt House made 650,000 as a base salary, he made under 300,000. He may get noticed at YST but doing well against SEC opponents will definitely put people on notice.

    • dcforuk
      12:27 am February 9, 2019 Permalink

      Those are 350,000 good reasons……maybe. He has always been known as a good defensive coach. Has he not had other DC offers making more than $650k? If not, why not? If yes, why has he said no. Not wanting to be a negative Nancy. Just curious…..

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      2:34 am February 9, 2019 Permalink

      Marrow was his recommendation which says the level of trust and friendship he has with him and Stoops. I believe if he comes those 2 are a big part of it.

    • dcforuk
      8:09 am February 9, 2019 Permalink


    • dcforuk
      8:10 am February 9, 2019 Permalink

      Obviously, it turned a fingers crossed emoji to a question mark