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Reasons Why Mark Stoops Would Stay at UK or Leave for Florida State

John Glaser | USA TODAY Sports

John Glaser | USA TODAY Sports

Sunday afternoon Florida State administrators pulled a $20 million trigger to relieve Willie Taggart and his coaching staff of their duties after less than two seasons in Tallahassee.

Since his dismissal, Mark Stoops has made every media member’s short list of coaching candidates. In odds released by Bet Online, Stoops is the second-favorite to fill the vacancy at 4/1. At this morning’s press conference, the former Florida State defensive coordinator dismissed the speculation, comparing it to the annual spring conversation surrounding potential NBA destinations for John Calipari.

“I guess with success, you’re going to have some of that,” he said. “For me, sitting around here, this is six and a half years. I sit there listening to Coach Cal and every year, he’s going to the NBA right? So you just dismiss it and concentrate on the things you can control and not going to get into speculation. I’m going to talk about the University of Kentucky and Tennessee.”

While he focuses on Tennessee, we can continue to speculate as to why Stoops would want to leave to take the Florida State job, or stay at UK.


LEAVE: History in the state of Florida

The reason why his name appears shortly after his brother’s on every list is his experience at Florida State. His final non-head coaching gig was on Jimbo Fisher’s staff, building the Seminoles’ defense into one of the best in the nation in only three years. A decade earlier he spent three seasons in Miami, winning a national title as the Canes’ secondary coach. He knows the expectations and the football climate in the Sunshine State.

STAY: Administrative Uncertainty

Stoops is well aware of the expectations, the good and the bad. The empty stadium was a big reason why Taggart was let go with four games remaining on the schedule. Some may say the administration was just getting a head-start into the hiring process, while others see the quick termination as a deterrent for the next coach. From Bruce Feldman:

One coach who I would’ve seen as a viable option told me that when you fire a coach before two years are up, that means you have some problems, and that deterred him. Neither the school president nor athletic director are expected to be in place long-term. There’s also some dysfunction with booster structure.

Struggling coaches are sitting ducks once they get a new boss. Tom Jurich may have given Bobby Petrino another year because Bobby has Tom’s guy. Vince Tyra had no need to show allegiance to someone he did not hire. If the rebuild takes longer then the new administrators would like, Stoops could be looking for a new job quicker than promised in the interview room.

LEAVE: A National Championship

Does Mark Stoops want to win a National Championship? If so, he probably has to leave Kentucky at some point. College football has not had a first-time National Champion since Steve Spurrier brought one back to Florida in 1996. Even though FSU has fallen on wayward times, they are only six years removed from a title. Being the man who returns the Seminoles to glory has to be an enticing offer.

Age is also a factor, and not in a good way for Kentucky. Stoops is 52. On the precipice of reaching his prime coaching years, he has to decide if he wants to make one more big move to try to get a title or make UK has final destination. Time is ticking.

STAY: Kentucky’s 2020 Roster is Loaded

Timing is on Kentucky’s side. FSU fans probably don’t want to hire a guy who’s essentially been a seven-win coach with one good season. Next year is set up to be another big year, maybe even better than UK’s 2018 season. With Terry Wilson returning from injury, 19 seniors, 18 juniors and an entire freshman class that just redshirted, a second challenge at Georgia for the SEC East crown would prove 2018 was not just a fluke. Stoops spent the bye week evaluating the 2020 roster to determine how to finish the best recruiting class in school history. For the BBN’s sake, it’s a good thing that is fresh on his mind.

LEAVE: Recruiting in Florida is Easy

“There are some places where you can wake up, walk out your front door and get five-stars.”

That quote did not publicly come directly from Mark Stoops’ mouth, but that sentiment was shared through the grapevine early in his tenure. There are a couple of jobs that are too good to turn down, a la Calipari and Kentucky. Stoops’ bread and butter at Kentucky has been in Ohio, but he’s done well in Florida too. There are 19 players on this year’s roster from Florida, trailing only Kentucky and Ohio.

STAY: Stoops’ Style of Play

The greatest complaint from Kentucky fans could be what keeps Stoops at UK. Florida State wants to win with high-powered offense. It’s how Jimbo Fisher got them a title with Jameis Winston at quarterback and a big reason why they initially hired Taggart. Smash mouth defense and four yards in a cloud of dust is a tough sell to Seminole fans while Dan Mullen lights up scoreboards in Gainesville. Stoops also isn’t the flashiest, rah-rah guy, while one his top competitors, Manny Diaz, eats and breathes the stuff at Miami.

LEAVE: A Cheap Buyout

Florida State has already dropped about $20 million to get rid of Taggart. They don’t want that to turn into a quarter of a billion dollars before negotiating the new coach’s salary. Stoops’ renegotiated contract fits their budget. The latest change dropped it to only $1.75 million if he leaves after this season, chump change in comparison to other buyouts.

Salary is a different story. Currently slated to make $4.75 million, the juice needs to be worth the squeeze for Stoops. If they tacked on an extra million a year, he would be just outside of the top ten in all of college football. Not too shabby.

STAY: Family Perspective

As I have alluded to throughout this back and forth, there are only so many jobs like Florida State. It’s why Charlie Strong left a good thing at Louisville for Texas, a situation not so different than what Stoops faces now. That’s not the cautionary tale that will prevent Stoops from making the leap to Tallahassee if he is offered the job. All he has to do is look at his brother. He alluded to his unique perspective at the conclusion of today’s press conference.

“There’s things that are important to me that what people perceive as an easier job or a better job — we always as coaches have a great perspective with my family of looking at things and doing what’s right for you and your family.”

In Bob’s second season at Oklahoma he won a National Championship. Over the next 15 years he had double-digit wins in all but three seasons. Even after all he had done for the program, those eight-win seasons would be filled with not so quiet backlash from fans, questioning his coaching competence.

Mark Stoops is well aware of the expectations that come with a program of Florida State’s caliber. If offered the job he must ultimately answer the question: does he want to try to win a national title, or get rewarded handsomely to try to surpass Bear Bryant as the greatest coach to ever walk a Kentucky sideline?


Article written by Nick Roush

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

52 Comments for Reasons Why Mark Stoops Would Stay at UK or Leave for Florida State

  1. GoCatz
    5:11 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

    Good points on both sides Nick…nice job.

  2. UKCatAttack
    5:36 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

    100% he is gone if they offer the job. I’m just not sure they will offer the job.

    • bruh
      5:49 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

      he will stay

    • mashburnfan1
      5:55 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

      People, probably you included, said the same thing a couple years ago when FSU was looking for a coach. I think a lot of things he has said point to he is not going anywhere but you have to listen and leverage yourself to get a raise where you are.

    • nocode96
      5:59 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

      I tend to agree with your assessment. Stoops has done very well at Kentucky, but FSU is football national powerhouse for all intents and purposes, and I highly doubt Stoops is as high up on their list as we are being lead to believe. Remember the non-story that became huge here last year involving Gran? There was absolutely nothing there, but we were made to believe it was almost a done deal. If memory serves me, Gran used that as a decent amount of leverage too.

    • 4everUKBlue
      7:37 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

      The last time FSU was good, they covered for a QB/rapist.

  3. season-3-disc-2
    5:46 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

    He will be FSU’s Mick Cronin. Just like UCLA, they will offer the job to better/more prioritized candidates. Two possibly three other coaches, if they turn them down then Mark will get the offer. They will hold him in there pocket knowing he will probably take the job if offered. I personally wouldn’t blame him if he takes the job. FSU is a very high profile job in college football and will definitely go after the best of the best just like we would if Cal exited our basketball helm. I honestly don’t think they will make it down the list to Mark bc I think a better candidate will take the job first.

    • michaelb
      5:57 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

      I think FSU is too high profile for mark stoops . FSU needs to be considering A + replacements for Jimmy Swagert or whoever got fired

    • runningunnin.454
      6:03 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

      Anyone that takes the FSU job needs to consider that they only gave Willie Taggart 1.75 years to turn the program around; and, they fired him with three games left on this year’s schedule…rough gig.
      Another quick trigger is Texas; but, at least they gave Strong three full years. Outrageous, if you think about it.

    • My Dixie Wrecked
      7:00 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

      So basically you all are saying Stoops is nothing more than an average coach…

  4. michaelb
    5:54 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

    I just hope they hire Eddie Gran as head coach after Mark leaves .

  5. livingood4UK
    5:59 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

    Stoops stays. That is all

  6. michaelb
    6:03 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

    I hope the FSU faithful enjoys Grans offense …. heheh

    • 4everUKBlue
      6:57 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

      I hope you choke on your own tongue BigolSlater

    • notFromhere
      9:56 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

      Or the other appendage of his that’s constantly in his mouth…

  7. bbn606
    6:36 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

    Lane Kiffen is the perfect match for FS.

    • Look Out Fireworks
      6:48 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

      YES! Talk about someone who always falls up!

  8. clarks
    6:48 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

    Just my gut but think we close to where he grew up and gets to recruit close to hometown as well combined with the fact that this is his baby and its continuing to grow. Not to mention he is nowhere close to being fired here, he could be a legend here like no other if he continues

    • My Dixie Wrecked
      7:02 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

      …or he could take a National Powerhouse back to prominence and be a bigger Legend.

    • N-UR-i
      9:16 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

      FSU a National powerhouse! lmao. Like Indiana basketball!

    • chrisnoleinky
      5:33 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

      Well they are six years from a title 5 years from the college football playoffs four years from a new years six bowl 3 years from a orange bowl victory so yeah still a powerhouse

    • satcheluk
      7:27 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

      Idiotic comment. Nuri

    • ClutchCargo
      8:27 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

      They have had some bad teams recently, but don’t confuse that with being a bad program.

  9. indycatdog
    7:44 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

    Building a program where there was none is one helluva win. Talking to his brother about the expectations at a level above us is more than informative. I’m a WKU GRAD, and Willie successfully worked the system. It pays huge dividends.

    One of my co-workers once said about our business, “how much do you need to eat and drink?” Stoops will never have to answer that question. UK answered when a DC came calling about being a rookie head coach. Unless his ego is greater than the newest commercial from Saban about Aflac with his ugly hand showing the championship rings, Stoops will stay. He’s a solid human being who appreciates the chance UK took on him.

    Relax y’all and ignore the stupid posts by trollers!

  10. makeitstop
    7:57 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

    So a month ago he’s an idiot and now he’s leaving for FSU? One of these things can’t be true. Fact is he was never an idiot, he’s built a program not just a team. FSU is not a dream job by any stretch: Alabama or OSU or Notre Dame, ok, even if ur not an Alum, they are like UK basketball, places u don’t leave for anywhere voluntarily. But FSU ran Bowden off, Jimbo bolted, and they fire Taggart mid season. Tallahassee is not as nice as half the cities in the SEC, Lexington included. Not even close. They are the second most popular school in the state and always will be at best. They are far more like U of L in hoops. Second place in ur state, a tradition but not great and not in a football conference. Mitch hasn’t lost anyone he wanted to keep. Relax. He’ll stay and we’ll be fine and if he did leave, it would be bc we had a helluva year this year bc they tried a guy who won 10 games one year, and they just fired him. If that’s how we finish, fine, we’ll get a young stud and keep rolling.

    • Bobbum Man
      8:46 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink


    • Bobbum Man
      8:47 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

      Was supposed to be for #9^^

  11. Carcrook
    8:24 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

    I’m sure he’s not even on their radar.

  12. MtnCat
    8:58 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

    Stoops has more reasons to stay than leave. Things aren’t broken here. FSU is a broken program in need of immediate turn around. That is not Mark Stoops forte. He would need more time than FSU can give. He stays and prospers. He has found his football home.

  13. shelby3605
    9:17 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

    I’m not sure TW is our starter at QB next year. His injury is harder to come back from than mcl or acl tear. It could be scalzo, allen, or gilmore.

  14. shepdog3720
    9:32 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

    Might have to disagree slightly with the Charlie Strong point. While Texas was a high profile job, Charlie was nailing the wife of a UL board member and that chit could have gotten nasty. The funny thing to me is, that chick looked just like his wife???

  15. notFromhere
    9:53 pm November 4, 2019 Permalink

    Y’all think he can’t compete for a national title her at UK. If he stays, you’ll see differently

  16. kurofmi
    6:15 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

    I’ve observed this insanity long enough. Stoops is Very fortunate to be at UK. Perhaps FSU is interested as I read a piece from Talllahassee saying it would make a decision just before season ends and when asked about Stoops they did say it would be a cold day before they considered Him.

    • makeitstop
      8:33 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

      That was Urban Meyers not stoops. News down here reporting it’s Bob Stoops, not Mark, but I’m not convinced he’d take it either.

  17. Crushgroove
    7:28 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

    Just dropped in to comment on how cowardice KSR is for posting the Trump/Bevin post and then turning off comments. Bravo. Your fathers would be proud of your hide-around-the-corner conviction, no doubt.

    • StillBP
      7:37 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

      Not only did they turn off comments on that post, but they deleted tons of comments on the post before it that people were using to talk about that Bevins post. It’s like China on this site, you’re only allowed to speak if they want you to.

    • makeitstop
      8:36 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

      That’s because Matt’s quixotic bid to take on Mitch in a Presidential year hangs in the balance but yea, it’s chicken “feed” to do that. U want politics get off a sports site, but if u bring it, hv the guts to take incoming.

    • cats646
      9:00 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

      Matt making fun of Bevin for saying the energy level was better than the final four was cracking me up. Because I’ve been to both, and from start to finish I didn’t see anyone sitting down. That place was actually VERY loud at times. It kinda shocked me.

    • cats646
      9:02 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

      Oh yea. I forgot to say the energy actually was better than a final four. Obviously though I would rather have UK in a final four than Trump in Rupp.

    • BowdenQB4ever
      3:55 pm November 5, 2019 Permalink

      Matt is a running joke in Frankfort. He has mistaken passion for Kentucky basketball with being well liked.

      Make no mistake, he’s built a nice business here. Lexington has always lacked in media coverage of the cats, and he filled that void. He had an opportunity to be the voice of the fans, and for a few years (the Beisner years to be specific) KSR did that. But as soon as UK started giving him access it turned into a mushy, low effort PR blog.

  18. Crushgroove
    7:32 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

    PS- I’m enjoying Matt’s triggering. And the fact that the latest Bevin flier cites ‘Hey Kentucky’ as its source for Beshear’s HRC connections. lmao. You’ve become professional penis stepper-on-ers…

  19. Bluebloodtoo
    8:13 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

    I think there’s one thing that missed your list. I could be dead wrong, but I see a lot of coach Cal’s mantras showing up in Stoops coach speak. I think having a mentor like Cal down the hall has been really good for Stoops growth in the head coach department. I don’t know if that’s going to be a decision factor, but it probably should be.

    • makeitstop
      8:40 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

      Yes and it keeps the unreasonable expectations department safely down the hall, too. Not true at FSU, at best the state’s #2 team but a football first, live or die on the gridiron school. Their hoops are like our football, a pleasant surprise if it goes well, a distraction until the Spring Game if not. I live in Florida, I hear it every day.

    • JDizzle14
      9:12 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

      Thats all we hear from either of them year after year game after game. Stoops has gotten it down to an art. Spends 30 mins sayin absolutely nothing. Ur nvr gonna know the truth on injuries, personnel, nothing….now hes even doing it on the job rumor. Guarantee hes gone if FSU is really serious abt getting him and is offering up the cash. Frankly, i cant understand why they would be interested. A guy who cannot develop QBs, WRs, and has not been able to ignite any kind of offensive production in 7 yrs under multiple OCs. Theyd be nuts if they rolled the dice on him. And i guarantee if they did get him, theyd be lookin for a coach again in 2 yrs. Their fans arent gonna put up with that kinda offense and play-calling, they would get bored quick, and would not enjoy havin to fight to stay awake during their games. and that admin is not gonna settle for mediocrity in their fb like this one does. Stoops at FSU would be like Tubby at UK….if even that good. Barnhart is gonna do everything possible cuz he knows thats the best we can get. And with recruiting, it probly is. Just wish he had the same ability of coaching and development on the offensive side of the ball as he does with the defensive side. Or if he would just bring in a guy to single-handedly run the O, but that aint gonna happen. Eddie Gran is the most overrated OC in the country. Their offense ranks bottom 10 nationally every year.

  20. RackEmWillie
    9:06 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

    I think Florida State definitely wants some of the things that Mark brings to a team. They’ve mentioned discipline and things like that, and seemingly he runs a pretty tight ship. He’s had some pretty solid defensive units here, and he’s been able to get a lot out of the recruits he gets. If he was able to get a roster full of extremely high level guys, I’d have to think he’d be even better.

    However, I’m not sure that in this era of wide open offenses, that his offensive philosophy of run first, control ToP, and don’t put your defense in bad positions no matter what, will be that well received at FSU. Stoops also still seemingly makes a few clutch coaching blunders every year to cost him a game or two. One or two games at UK won’t really change overall perception of a legacy or a season, generally. One or two games at FSU is the difference between hired and fired. If Willie beat Miami and another team on their schedule, he’d still have a job. But he didn’t, so he doesn’t. Mark has seemingly bungled the last 2 Florida home games, and people got mad at him. But that was about it. Do that against Clemson, Miami, or Florida at FSU, and people want you gone before you leave the stadium.

    If Stoops stays, you 100% know why he did. If Stoops leaves, you know 100% why he did.

  21. Teamhhc1
    9:11 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

    Why can’t he compete for a national title here at Kentucky? It wasn’t to long ago when we beat Clemson in a bowl game.

  22. Wade
    9:14 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

    Close to Ohio stay , Vince stay, new everything , stay, gives us 2 bad ass coaches stay, great people stay, we can already recruit go and take from there ang ha and tn. Just fl and ga ahead in the east and not by much really. Yo can contend for sec championships imo wining another story but if he does ????

    • MtnCat
      9:55 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

      Exactly Wade, the path is there.
      Big Dog is on record saying there is no ceiling on Kentucky’s potential. It can be done here and Mark has the chemistry to make the magic happen.

  23. Mikey Blue 52
    9:46 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

    The article is nice reading but I personally don’t see FSU coming after Mark Stoops as first or second choice. I don’t see him as a good fit, especially if he should take most of his staff with him as so many coaches often do. Eddie Gran as OC at FSU? Not happening!! In fact, taking Eddie Gran with him would make Mark Stoops a bad fit anywhere! As to your reference that Mark Stoops has to leave UK to have a chance at winning a National Championship, are you saying that Stoops can’t do it at UK or are you saying that no coach can do it at UK? If Stoops isn’t capable then maybe we need to send him on his way. If you’re saying that no one can win the National Championship at UK, then maybe Matt needs to send you on your way.

    • RackEmWillie
      12:17 pm November 5, 2019 Permalink

      I’m not defending Gran or anyone, but I think it’s funny.

      “Eddie Gran at OC at FSU? Not happening!!” Direct quote.

      Gran was the OC at FSU before. So, I mean, that’s not that much of a stretch to go back to a job he’s had before.

  24. CombatMedic_98
    11:09 am November 5, 2019 Permalink

    Annnnd his Brother Takes it…! Watch out now KSR you all are zero for zero on your coaching predictions…

  25. Mikey Blue 52
    4:08 pm November 5, 2019 Permalink

    Hey RackEmWillie this is another direct quote, Eddie Gran was not the Offensive Coordinator at Florida State. He was the Running Backs Coach and Special Teams Coordinator, Do your homework.