Dean Hood predicts “a lot of emotion” when UK Football faces his old team


Dean Hood, UK Football’s special teams coordinator and outside linebacker coach, had a ten season career at Eastern Kentucky University prior to his time at the University of Kentucky. June 15, 2017 Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Chase Campbell

UK Football’s special teams coordinator and outside linebacker coach Dean Hood is in his first season at UK after a one-season stint at Charlotte, and a combined ten seasons coaching for Eastern Kentucky. His last eight years at EKU were spent as the head coach, where he led the Colonels to the FCS playoffs three times, while producing nine All-Americans.

Now, Hood must coach against EKU when the Colonels come to Lexington on Sept. 9. He was removed from his position at EKU in 2015, in spite of his excellent progress with the competitive team, and now is faced with battling some of the players that he coached.

“I haven’t thought about it a lot,” Hood said, but he also predicted there would be a good amount of “emotion” in the game.

After Hood’s removal, he felt that he couldn’t do any healing by staying in Kentucky to continue to coach. He went to Charlotte to continue working and to heal the wounds that his firing from EKU left him with. After taking the year away from the state of Kentucky, where Hood’s wife was born and raised, he said that coming back to coach in the state was “like coming home”.

“When we took the Eastern Kentucky job, our kids were six, four, two and a newborn,” Hood said in a press conference. “That’s all they’ve ever known.”

The homecoming will likely feel a bit awkward come Sept. 9, as Hood and Mark Stoops will be on the same sideline for only the second time ever while EKU sits on the opposite sideline. The last time Hood and Stoops both coached in the same game was the last time EKU came to then-named Commonwealth Stadium in 2015, Hood’s last season.

The 2015 game itself isn’t what incited drama, however. Even though the duel ended up in UK’s favor after the Cats scored two touchdowns in under eight minutes, there was another battle that took place earlier in the year that had all eyes on the Colonels as they came to Lexington.

That January, UK quarterback Drew Barker was punched in the back of the head by then-EKU defensive lineman Patrick Graffree after a fight in a Richmond bar. The security footage went viral, and has followed Graffree and Barker around since the incident.

Barker is now an upperclassman, as is UK wide receiver Dorian Baker, who was in the Richmond bar that night. Baker has to watch from the sideline due to an ankle injury, but Barker may get a chance to play against the Colonels, provided he’s fully recovered from his season-ending injury he suffered in 2016.

With Hood’s removal from EKU being so fresh, players that he recruited and promised his commitment to must now play against a team coached by him, and even worse, against the Cats while they’re being coached by Hood.

As with the last game the Colonels and Cats played against each other, Stoops will likely have a zero-tolerance violence policy like he publicized in 2015.

“If I see any of that stuff, a guy is not going to play,” Stoops said in 2015. Tension may come to a head on the ninth, especially given the fact that even Hood acknowledges that he “won’t really be able to explain until going through the game day,” how he feels about the game.