SB Nation has an excellent (and fancy) piece on how to rebuild a college football program, featuring six coaches from around the game. Mark Stoops is one of the profiled coaches, as well as his brother Bob, Bill Snyder, Bob Diaco, Justin Fuente, and Kevin Wilson.
Stoops’ section of the article, called “CLAIM YOUR TURF,” focuses on his early success in recruiting at Kentucky and the role the state of Ohio played. Stoops told SB Nation the SEC is a “goldmine” for high school talent and “nearby” Ohio is where he went to work.
It’s a reflex to tie Kentucky into the Southeast and only the Southeast. And it’s easy to assume that a new Kentucky coach is going to have trouble competing for elite high school kids in Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana. They don’t have the same history to sell — they have been ranked in one of the past 29 seasons, and they didn’t finish that season ranked. Upon reaching eighth after defeating No. 1 LSU at home in 2007, the Wildcats lost four of five, and even after defeating Florida State in the Music City Bowl, they finished 8-5 and unranked.
While many of us looked to the south and wondered, Stoops turned and faced north. He signed three Ohio high schoolers (one a four-star prospect) in his abbreviated 2013 recruiting class, but given a full year to prepare, he outright invaded. According to Rivals.com, Ohio produced 19 four-star prospects in the 2014 class. Ohio State landed seven of them, other Big Ten schools reeled in two, Notre Dame landed two, and Oklahoma and Tennessee got one each. Kentucky signed five. In the past five recruiting classes, UK had signed five four-stars, period.
In all, nearly 40 percent of UK’s 2014 class hailed from the Buckeye State.
“It’s home base,” Stoops says. “Ohio was part of the plan all along.”
Give it a read here.