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Three Reasons Why Mark Stoops Isn’t Going Anywhere

Since the University of Nebraska fired Scott Frost, there has been a lot of conversation about their interest in trying to lure Mark Stoops away from his current role as the head coach of the University of Kentucky. Many fans and media who love Nebraska mention Coach Stoops’ name when they list their “top 3 replacements", often with Stoops being mentioned as the first phone call that should be made. There are also a lot of fans of other SEC schools who are on social media begging Nebraska to hire Mark Stoops away from Kentucky. They do this because Kentucky is no longer an afterthought on everyone’s schedule. However, Kentucky fans have nothing to fear. Here are the three reasons why Mark Stoops is not leaving for the cornfields of Nebraska:

1. Kentucky does not have unreal expectations like Nebraska does

Many talking heads have mentioned the words “tradition” and “history” when talking about the “prestigious” Cornhuskers program. The words they fail to also mention are “unrealistic expectations” and “impatience", which are equally as appropriate in that discussion. Nebraska forced one of their greatest coaches, Tom Osborne, into retirement due to his “old school” mentality and playing style. Keep in mind that Osborne retired in 1997 having previously won National Championships in 1994, 1995 and 1997. Mark Stoops is a blue collar, no-nonsense coach, who is unrelenting in his style of play. Those who wanted a Hall of Fame coach removed because of his style of play would not enjoy the run heavy offense that Coach Stoops relies on. He would certainly not be given the time at Nebraska that Kentucky has given him to build the Wildcats program his way. Speaking of that…

2. Stoops has built “his” program at Kentucky

When Mark Stoops was hired on November 27, 2012, the Kentucky Wildcats football team was at rock bottom. The roster was barely anything that resembled an SEC caliber program. The previous coaching staff was a “Joke(r)” in the SEC, going 13-24 (4-20) over three years from 2010-2012. Stoops brought in a great coaching staff, including tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow. The “Big Dawg” immediately went to work and brought in talent in the first several recruiting classes that set the tone for future success in Lexington. After going 12-24 in his first three seasons, many fans began to grumble, but those in charge in the UK Athletics Offices saw what Coach Stoops was building. Stoops was given time and that investment has paid major dividends. Since 2016, Stoops’ Wildcats have gone 49-29 (26-25), winning 10 games twice in a season since 2018. At Nebraska, the longest any coach has lasted since Osborne’s departure in 1997 was long-time Stoops family friend, Bo Pelini. Pelini was fired for not making the National Championship, despite having a 67-27 record, in seven seasons in Lincoln. Stoops clearly has the support of his players, fans and the administration at Kentucky. In Lexington, Coach Stoops has said he feels he is “at home." Speaking of home…

3. Lexington is much closer to Youngstown than Lincoln

One look at the Kentucky Wildcats rosters during Mark Stoops’ tenure and you will find one thing is consistent: a large amount of Ohio players. The current roster has 20+ players from the state of Ohio on it. Head coach Mark Stoops, Associate Head Coach Vince Marrow, Safeties Coach Frank Buffano, Linebackers Coach (and Mark’s brother) Mike Stoops and Director of Player Development Courtney Love are all from Youngstown, Ohio. That fact is definitely utilized when the coaches are recruiting players to Kentucky from the state of Ohio. These coaches can sell the prospective players on not only playing in the SEC, but being a nice car ride away for their parents to come watch them play. It is an approximate five hour drive from Lexington to Youngstown, Cleveland or Toledo. It is even shorter to Columbus and Cincinnati. Stoops is close to his hometown and uses those ties to his advantage. The drive from Lincoln to Lexington is approximately 11 hours, which no one wants to try and do to see their son play football. Coach Stoops is home in Lexington.

Between the rumors of Nebraska trying to manipulate the contract of “Big Dawg” Vince Marrow when he left Nebraska, to the whole Wan’Dale Robinson saga, Kentucky football fans have no love for Nebraska. If the Cornhuskers think that they can throw around some words and a few extra dollars to get Mark Stoops to Lincoln, they are sorely mistaken. Stoops has a very friendly contract at Kentucky, he has built the program the way he likes it and is close to his hometown. The folks in Lincoln can not offer him anything that he does not already have in Lexington. Wildcat fans will build a statue of Stoops sooner than later. All Huskers fans can build is a list of recently fired coaches.


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