Stoops hire a good one for the Cats



By Cody Porter | @KernelPorter

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Names had come and gone.

In true Big Blue Nation fashion, overreactions to prospective candidates set social media sites aflame.

The buzz first surrounded former Arkansas and Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino. Needless to say, fans appeared split on this notion.

Cincinnati’s Butch Jones followed, stirring up much skepticism about facts of his legitimate interest in the job.

Once outsiders got hint of his name, San Jose State’s Mike MacIntyre, a Bill Parcells disciple, seemed to be a glimmer of hope as names were smeared from the list, despite his only formidable success coming this season for a Western Athletic Conference program.

In the midst of the weekend’s frantic debate of who was to follow the blue-blooded Joker Phillips, CBS Sports’ Jeremy Fowler alluded to an interview conducted by UK officials with Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops.

In unison, everyone with thoughts on the coaching search was at a loss. How did Stoops’ name slide past everyone and into discussion to the point that he had an interview with UK President Eli Capilouto and athletic director Mitch Barnhart about the vacancy?

At that point in the search, his name generated excitement, which needed to be atop Barnhart’s priorities.

While other names divided, only few have belittled the coach’s prospective success, even after his defense gave away Saturday’s game to Florida in allowing 24 fourth-quarter points.

Naysayers to that performance should understand that the implementation of other coaching candidates could have set the Cats down a course they’re all too familiar with.

Recruits’ recognition of MacIntyre and Petrino was surely to have been a setback. Some because of questioning who MacIntyre even is and why he is worth playing for, and Petrino’s reasoning relates to character issues. Many parents wouldn’t want their sons playing for such a figure, or at least you’d imagine.

Among the few coordinators to inquire about the position, Stoops has a resume that outshines that of even some head coaches raved about by fans. So don’t deter his abilities based on that.

As a member of his brother Mike’s staff at Arizona, Mark’s defenses ranked in the top 50 from 2006-09, including rankings of 24 and 25 his remaining two years, respectively.

When pursued by the illustrious Florida State Seminoles, Mark Stoops transformed what a decade prior was a juggernaut defense into an image resembling its past identity, moving from No. 108 in total defense his first season to the current No. 2 defense.

If history has proven anything, the Southeastern Conference prides itself on defense. And that hasn’t necessarily been the case for UK, with a recent string of coaches who have come in with an emphasis on offense.

It just doesn’t translate if help can’t be found on the other side of the ball.

After seeing fans turn the other cheek on the program, Barnhart has seemingly found a coach for a cultural movement, a Stoops, one of four, and arguably the hottest on the market with his older and more successful brother, Bob, no longer satisfying the desires of his Boomer Sooners.

For now, speculation has ended, and Barnhart’s own position no longer has names revolving thanks to the fan base. His quick hit on the coaching world has flipped the Bluegrass into another kind of overreaction, mere hours after Stoops was announced as coach, about how long before his inevitable success comes for what would’ve been a “dead-end job,” according to various SEC mouthpieces.