Winning is a way of life for the Stoops family. When Mark Stoops accepted the Kentucky Wildcats head coaching position last December, he is not only working to rebuild the Wildcats program, but to maintain a coaching legacy of winning in his family. On that day, he became the third son of Ron Sr. and Eveylyn “Dee Dee” Stoops to become a head coach at the FBS college football level.
The 46-year old defensive-minded head coach comes to Lexington as being part of one of the richest coaching family traditions ever in sports. The Stoops name is rooted in success in the game of football.
Ron Sr., who was the defensive coordinator and head baseball coach for Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown, Ohio for 28 years, won four state championships in football. Mark Stoops goes into this season as one of four brothers still coaching college football: Bob Stoops, head coach of the University of Oklahoma; Mike Stoops, defensive coordinator of Oklahoma and Ron Stoops Jr., linebackers/director of high school relations at Youngstown State.
He and his brothers started learning about football at an early age when their father would bring home a projector screen and analyze game film.
The former Florida State defensive coordinator grew up the youngest of six children trying to fend for himself amongst his older brothers and kids in the neighborhood. The blue-collar mentality of Stoops will fit in well to the challenge he is facing ahead as a coach in the SEC.
The program he takes over is coming back from a 2-10 season and has been an historically low-tier program in this league. But if we know anything about his last name, then Kentucky fans should be excited for the Stoops era to begin tonight against Western Kentucky in Nashville.
Stoops has everything that the Wildcats need — besides his lack of head coaching experience, of course.
He has that defensive mindset and incredible recruiting ties in his home state of Ohio and the always-rich pipeline of Florida. He and his staff has assembled a top-five recruiting class in the nation, with numerous blue-chip athletes coming from Ohio and Florida. He is an high-energy, passionate and humbling man who has been successful in every stop he’s made in the coaching profession.
But most importantly, he has fired up the fan base, as UK’s spring game had a record attendance of over 50,8oo in Commonwealth Stadium.
Stoops has a steep mountain to climb, taking over a Wildcats program that hasn’t had a true winning season since Blanton Collier guided the Cats to 7-3 in 1954. This season, he has inexperience on both sides of the ball, breaking in a new coaching staff and is implementing the new air raid offense.
It will be hard for him to rebuild this program quickly, so don’t be surprised if we see the Cats get ousted by Western Kentucky tonight and lose big in year one. But Stoops understands that programs aren’t built overnight in the SEC. His high-level staff and top-notch recruiting class are bringing talk to that program around the nation. It’s not a matter of if, but when Stoops brings that program to national prominence.
There’s no reason he won’t be successful at Kentucky. He’s a Stoops.