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What they're saying about Mark Stoops

When Mark Stoops was introduced as Head Coach ...

“He is one of those assistant coaches who has been elevating his game as a defensive coordinator … He has great pedigree being a Stoops brother and the fact that he has worked with some outstanding head coaches helps his cause. I think he is ready to go (be a head coach). That is a great choice (for Kentucky).”
– ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit

“The more I learn about the youngest of the college-coaching Stoops brothers, the more I like about what Mitch Barnhart did in luring him to Lexington. Stoops turned around Florida State’s defense in short order, which was impressive (and why he got the job), but I really like the way he’s gone about hiring a young, respected staff.”
– Travis Haney of, who rated Stoops as the second-best coaching hire in the nation.

“I think he’s one of the big reasons for the turnaround at Florida State. He’s just done a fantastic job. I think Jimbo Fisher himself would say he’s probably the biggest reason for their turnaround.”
– Legendary Florida State Head Coach Bobby Bowden

“If it was a 3-2 pitch in the bottom of the ninth with the game on the line, then Mitch Barnhart has hit a long drive that’s headed straight for the seats. Time will tell if it’s a round-tripper, but from this vantage point it sure looks like Barnhart has hit a home run … “
– John Clay, Lexington Herald-Leader

“If new Kentucky coach Mark Stoops’ results are any indication, UK’s defense can expect quick and sustained improvement. As a defensive coordinator at Florida State (2010-12) and Arizona (2003-09), Stoops inherited defenses ranked outside the top 100 in yards per game. Both teams improved to the top 25 by the end of his time.”
– Aaron Smith,

“I’m very proud of him. Very happy for him. He got an opportunity to go on and further his career and it’s something he wants to do. I’m happy for him. I think he’s a hard worker. He cares about what he does. He’s very diligent about what he does. He truly loves coaching.”
– Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher

“I was more happy for Coach Stoops than anything. He’s a coach that’s put in his work. He doesn’t have to explain that it’s best for him and his family and sets him up for what he needs. That’s a blessing for him. He’s a great man and he deserves it.”
– Florida State defensive back Lamarcus Joyner

Reaction from Coach Stoops’ First Recruiting Class ...

Zac Ellis of Sports Illustrated graded the recruiting performance of the 16 new head coaches in the BCS automatic qualifying conferences. Mark Stoops and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn were the only ones to receive a grade of “A.”

“Kentucky locked up an impressive crop of signees,” Ellis wrote. “Stoops managed to lure 6-foot-3 250-pound defensive end Jason Hatcher away from USC, effectively putting a bow on the highest-rated Kentucky class in more than a decade. Four-star safety Marcus McWilson also added to the haul, and the Wildcats’ class came in No. 28 in’s final rankings; Kentucky finished no higher than 50th in any of the previous three cycles. It’s too soon to tell if the program is primed for a renaissance under Stoops, but this freshman class will certainly be intriguing to watch.”

“After a very successful signing day,” wrote Edward Aschoff of, “Stoops’ popularity is surging throughout the Bluegrass State. His class was extremely balanced and met Kentucky’s major needs. “Thanks to relentless recruiting efforts from UK’s staff, Stoops’ bunch moved in front of the eight ball with some big, late splashes.”