Kentucky's Stoops was surprised by brother's decision

Kentucky's Stoops was surprised by brother's decision

July 13th, 2017 by David Paschall in Sports - College

FILE - In this Oct. 9, 2004, file photo, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops celebrates the Sooners 12-0 win over Texas, in Dallas. Stoops has decided to retire as Oklahoma’s football coach after 18 seasons that included the 2000 national championship and 10 Big 12 Conference titles. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

Photo by The Associated Press /Times Free Press.

There is only one head football coach remaining in the Stoops family, and he can be found in the Southeastern Conference.

The surprising decision early last month by Bob Stoops to step down after 18 seasons as Oklahoma's coach has left Kentucky's Mark Stoops as the lone member of the family running his own show. Oldest brother Ron is the special teams coach at Youngstown State, which reached last season's Championship Subdivision title game, while youngest brother Mike remains Oklahoma's defensive coordinator under new Sooners boss Lincoln Riley.

Bob guided Oklahoma to a whopping 10 Big 12 championships and to the 2000 national title, and his decision caught Mark completely off guard.

"It's one of those moments you won't forget because he called me and it came out of the blue," Stoops said during day three of SEC media days. "I really had no idea it was coming, but he called me and told me what was going to happen in the very near future, and it was a bit of a shock to me, to be honest with you. I had to walk out of my office and walk around the practice field.

"That's where I had that conversation with him away from everybody. I was shocked and had mixed emotions. I'm very proud of him and what he's done, and I'm very happy for him and Carol and his family to be able to step away when he wants and how he wants."

Two Stoops brothers had head-coaching jobs from 2004 until midway through the 2011 season, when Mike was let go at Arizona. Only Bob was a head coach in 2012, but then Mark was hired in Lexington after serving as Florida State's defensive coordinator.

Kentucky has gone 2-10, 5-7, 5-7 and 7-6 under Stoops, reaching the TaxSlayer Bowl last season, where the Wildcats lost 33-18 to Georgia Tech. He can continue to seek Bob for advice, but it will no longer be from one active head coach to another.

"He walked away when he wanted to do it, on his terms," Stoops said. "I think it was very important for him to walk away with a good football team with a chance to win his league and get in the playoffs and hand off a program that he took so much pride in building.

"I have mixed emotions about it still, but I am proud of him and hope the very best for him."

Decking the Cards

Kentucky opened last season with a nine-point home loss to Southern Miss and a 45-7 shellacking down in Florida. The Wildcats ended the regular season with a 41-38 upset triumph at Louisville, which arguably registered the most impressive win last season with its 63-20 drubbing of Florida State.

"It was incredible," Wildcats senior quarterback Stephen Johnson said. "Going into that locker room afterwards, knowing we had won that game, everybody was full of joy and extremely ecstatic. We were given a 4-percent chance to win that game and were supposed to lose by 28 points.

"You go in there playing lights-out because you know you've got nothing to lose, and that's how we played. I'm really proud with how that game went."

Chavis on the ropes?

Nobody on Texas A&M's coaching staff is experiencing too much of a comfort level right now, and that includes third-year defensive coordinator John Chavis.

The Aggies gave up an average of 36.8 points per game last season in their last five contests against SEC foes. Texas A&M lost all five of those games, and that was with the defensive end tandem of NFL draftees Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall.

"We have got to be a better run defense," Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin said. "We have to, and I don't think there's any secret to that. I think that our ability to be multiple and change things up are things that we worked on a little bit.

"I think we were a pretty good defense early in the year, but we lost some critical pieces."

Already addressed

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has repeatedly said in recent months that there has been no discussion among league presidents and chancellors about switching Auburn and Missouri from their respective divisions. Mizzou second-year coach Barry Odom was asked Wednesday how he would feel about moving.

"It has not been on any agenda item that I know of," Odom said. "Right now, I need to focus on making sure that Mizzou football is as good as we can get on the schedule we play and the division we play. I'm excited where we are, and we'll stand with Commissioner Sankey on our conference stance on that."

The Tigers won SEC East titles in 2013 and 2014 but are 3-13 in league games in the two seasons since.

Bring on everybody

Missouri senior linebacker Eric Biesel said last November that it would be "a huge mistake" for Arkansas to show up for the regular-season finale at Faurot Field. The Tigers ranked last among SEC teams in total defense last season and fell behind the Razorbacks 24-7 at halftime, but they rallied for a 28-24 upset.

Tennessee hung a 63-37 rout on Mizzou last season at Neyland Stadium, but Biesel said the Volunteers and others who travel to Faurot Field this year better be prepared.

"Any team that thinks they're going to come into our house, step on our field, run the ball against us, pass the ball against us, stop our offense returning 10 starters with Drew Lock leading the pack, that's disrespect," Biesel said. "Don't come to our field and think you're coming out with a win. Any team that does that will pay for it."

Event on the move?

Sankey this week mentioned the possibility of SEC media days moving to Atlanta, Nashville or even Dallas in future years.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.


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