Mark Stoops Introductory News Conference as Head Football Coach
MITCH BARNHART: We
would like to thank everybody for coming out today, a great day to be
celebrating a great day in Kentucky football. We're extremely
excited today to have a chance to begin fresh and have new beginnings.
I'd like to thank a few folks before we get started. Just to say
thank you to our university, the administration, our staff, the folks
that have worked diligently in the last three or four weeks to help put
this day together.
First I want to thank Dr. Capilouto, Mary Lynne, their unbelievable
support of athletics. Two folks that have been instrumental in
helping us move the needle on things we need to do athletically is the
chairman of the Board of Trustees Britt Brockman and chairman of the
Subcommittee for Athletics, C.B. Akins.
You go through times like this, you have a lot of people behind the
scenes that put together events in short notice. This was put
together in short notice. We thought about it, but clearly you
have elements you deal with, so we're all inside here today. Our
staff has done a remarkable job. I thank them very much for what
I had several of my staff that helped me through this process and a
great friend of the program in Tim Couch. I'd like to thank him
It is a chance for new beginnings. It's an opportunity for us to
begin to hope and believe that our program moves forward and gets us to
a chance to participate in a game that occurred in Atlanta last
night. Those are the hopes, dreams of our players and fans.
With that we're bringing a man into our program today to participate in
one of those championship games. Last night they did okay.
Congratulations to him.
With that, we want to welcome (Stoops’ wife) Chantel and (children)
Zack and Will to Kentucky. This is their first time here.
Big plane ride today. We fed them well. They're about ready
to crash on us. We'd like to welcome you all to Kentucky.
It's great to have you with us.
We have the greatest fans in all of college sports and the most
passionate fan base around and you deserve a football program that
competes at a championship level. That's what we've hired this
guy to do. We want him to help get us to Atlanta and pursue SEC
championships and help us play on New Year's Day. We dream of
that for our players, we dream of that for our fans. We want to
support those efforts to get that done.
It is with great pleasure that I introduce the head football coach at
the University of Kentucky, Mark Stoops.
MARK STOOPS: Thank you very much. I appreciate that.
So this is what the Big Blue Nation is all about right here. I've
been hearing a lot about it. I appreciate you being here.
It's a great honor for me to be the head football coach at the
University of Kentucky. I'd like to recognize my wife Chantel and
the boys. Appreciate them being here. She's the head coach
at home, as you know.
I'd like to thank Dr. Capilouto, the Board of Trustees, for the faith
and confidence they have in me being their coach. So I appreciate
I'd like to thank Mitch Barnhart. He's been tremendous through
this whole process. Very up front, honest. We've had great
talks. Seems like each and every time we talked, I had a stronger
and stronger feeling about UK. I just really appreciate the way
Mitch went about this whole process. I appreciate that very
much. Thank you.
Also I'd like to recognize the people that helped Mitch through this
process: John Cropp, DeWayne Peevy, Tim Couch and Marc
Hill. Thank you.
To all the past and current players that are here today, I appreciate
you being here. I look forward to meeting all the past players,
and I look forward to getting to work with all you current players very
soon. I look forward to meeting you tomorrow morning.
I'd like to thank Coach (Jimbo) Fisher, the administration and the
players at Florida State. It's been a tremendous three years for
me there. I really like the way we went out last night.
Obviously they're a special group. I felt very good and wanted to
leave on the right note. Wanted you all to feel the confidence in
your new head football coach and go out with a win. Really
appreciate all the people at Florida State.
I'd like to wrap up the thank yous just talking about my family.
My mother has been to many football games, as you all know. My
brothers and sisters grew up in a coaching family. Really wanted
to thank my father, who is no longer with us, but a big part of who I
am comes from how I grew up with my father. He was a high school
coach for over 30 years. Tremendous person.
I think that's where I started preparing to get to this position where
I'm at right now, is those days and those nights spending time with my
father at Cardinal Mooney (High School), many nights when I've been
sitting at the kitchen table eating my dinner and watching my father
watch film and using the refrigerator as his canvas. I think
that's a big part of who I am.
I cannot tell you how excited I am to be your football coach. I'm
highly motivated to build this program to national prominence.
There will be no magic wands to getting this done. We're going to
do it with very much of a blue‑collar mentality. We'll work every
day, be accountable to what we do. Our players will have
tremendous character and we're going to win in the institution and we
are going to win with a lot of class.
The one thing that I ask you to do, I ask the Big Blue Nation to fill
Commonwealth Stadium each and every week next year. Thank you.
TONY NEELY: Our next speaker is our university president, Dr. Eli
DR. CAPILOUTO: Coach, excuse my voice. Many have attributed
my hoarseness to a bad cold. The truth is I spent my week trying
to become a member of the fastest growing student group, Stoops Troops.
I want to welcome you to the Big Blue Nation. It is a
family. My wife and I have been here just 18 months, but this
Nation is family. It makes us feel like we've been here
forever. It's why my wife squeezes my hand when they play 'My Old
We are here for you and we are here for your family. Your family
is our family. Coach, you'll never have a better boss than Mitch
Barnhart. He's a value‑driven professional who, like the rest of
this campus, ensures what we do with class and integrity.
You will also never know a more committed and wise Board of
Trustees. We are a Big Blue Nation united. We are here
because we put students first. They are the focus of everything
we do. It's been that way for nearly 150 years.
Today we again celebrate, and we do it with you, coach. It's a
Big Blue Nation united with the goal of being the first choice for
students as they compete in the classroom and on the field.
We're also a first choice for discovery and service so that we can make
a difference in those communities across our state.
We're a first choice for cutting‑edge education because of a
world‑class faculty. And increasingly we're going to give our
students and our faculty a living, learning and discovery facility that
they need to maximize their potential.
Today underscores that commitment to student‑athletes and to our
university. We are building upon a strong foundation and
investing in long‑term success in our football program. That
success, in turn, means so much to the rest of our athletic program and
to our university.
UK athletics is one of a handful of programs in the country that gives
back to the academic mission of this institution. A successful
football program is key. I am convinced we have a gentleman in
Mark Stoops that can build on our success.
In speaking with Coach Stoops, you feel in a minute that he's a
difference‑maker. He's the real deal. He is of character
and will build character in our student‑athletes. I hope you
noticed last night at the conclusion of their game how his players
gathered around him with deep respect and affection.
With Coach Stoops joining the Big Blue Nation, we are demonstrating our
commitment to football and our student‑athletes. We are committed
to the long‑term in football. We are committed to investing in
its success which will ensure the financial success of the most
comprehensive athletics program in the SEC, an athletics program that
commits millions of dollars a year to academic scholarships and
We will be talking more in the very near future about that commitment
and our specific plans for sustained investments in education, research
and athletics, investments that will underscore our attention to chart
our destiny, a first choice for students and faculty, first choice for
research and service.
As we move forward with our plans to rebuild all facets of our campus,
it's important that our fans, friends and alumni understand that this
is an effort in partnership across the university and with our friends
in the general assembly.
With the guidance and leadership of our Board of Trustees, we will
define plans on how we fund multiple projects with our own
dollars. We need the authorization of the Legislature to
proceed. We will need everybody's help in getting that approval.
But today our focus is on Coach Stoops and his family. They are
joining the Big Blue Family, a Big Blue Nation united behind them.
Thank you, coach.
TONY NEELY: At this time we'll begin the news conference and
we'll take questions from the media.
Q. Coach, when you made the decision to come to Kentucky, you
said you could bring the program to a national prominence. It's
really not been there in a long time. What makes you think at
Kentucky you can bring it to a national prominence?
MARK STOOPS: Well, Kentucky's had success. The key will be
to build on that success and be consistent with it and take it to
I believe I can bring a strong staff that will help building and
recruiting. I believe in this administration to the commitment
they're willing to make to the football program. With recruiting,
quality staff, development, develop the players that are here, that we
can take it to another level.
Q. Coach, during this process, as you were weighing the options,
how much did you talk to your brothers and what would your father say
to you at this very moment?
MARK STOOPS: My father would tell me to follow my heart and do
what I believed was right for myself and my family.
I visited with my brothers about it from time to time. Not a
ton. We've had a few conversations. But to me it was a
no‑brainer. I was excited and anxious for the job. I wanted
to be here. I believe in this program. Like I said, we're
champing at the bit, ready to go, and feel like we have a good group of
staff that's willing to come. So it was an easy decision for me.
Q. Coach Stoops, everybody in this room, even the media in this
room, wants you to succeed.
MARK STOOPS: Thank you.
Q. Can you explain what you need to do to change a losing
culture, which is what this is, and turn it into a winning culture,
which will make all True Blue fans happy?
MARK STOOPS: First of all we're going to embrace the
process. We're going to attack each and every day. What I'm
worried about right now is meeting with our players tomorrow morning,
and we're looking forward to going ahead.
Really not interested in what happened before. We will embrace
the past, all the past great players, the past teams. But we're
worried about going forward. We're going to do that.
Again, it's a process. We're not too worried about the results
right now, we're worried about the process. That's getting my
message to the players tomorrow morning, then getting out there and
putting together a quality staff and moving forward.
Q. Coach, when you talk about you feel you can bring a good staff
to Kentucky, could you update us on what your plans are, how that is
going to come together.
MARK STOOPS: I'm planning on going out and interviewing a few
offensive coordinators here real soon. I've been in
conversations. I feel real good about the prospects for the
offensive coordinator. So I'm going to head out on the road and
talk to a few people, put together the offensive staff first.
I feel very good about the defensive staff. I feel like I have my
defensive coordinator targeted, on board and ready to come. From
there, it will really concentrate on the offense.
I realize with my background in defense that the offensive staff and
the offensive coordinator will be critical to our success. That's
priority for me right now.
Q. Mark, speaking of the offense, you're a defensive guy.
The big question in this room is, what kind of offense do you want to
MARK STOOPS: We're going to have an offense that you guys are
going to enjoy. I promise you that. We're is Tim Couch
at? Is he around here (laughter)? We're going to have an
offense you're going to be proud of. We'll get out there and rip
it around it a little bit, we are going to throw it.
But you have to be creative. I'm a defensive guy. This is
the SEC. It's a physical conference. I realize that.
I want to be tough and I want to be physical. We have to build
this foundation with great defense. There's no way around
it. If you don't play great defense, you're not going to win
But with the offense, again, I want somebody that has a plan, that's
been successful, and we have to be creative. We will have a
physical presence about us, but we will spread it out and use some
bells and whistles, get the run game going and, again, be a little bit
Q. Coach, there were a lot of openings across the country,
several other ones here in the SEC. What specifically drew you to
MARK STOOPS: The Big Blue Nation.
I feel very good about Kentucky. Again, I just felt very
comfortable visiting with Mr. Barnhart. I feel very confident in
Dr. Capilouto, the Board of Trustees, their commitment to taking
football to another level.
We have everything we need to be successful here. Sure, we want
to improve on a few things here and there, but we have what it takes
right now to be successful.
It's our job to coach them, to put them in the right position, to
recruit, to develop this program and turn them into a consistent winner.
Q. Mark, could you talk about what role Tim Couch had in this
process and how you know him.
MARK STOOPS: Had a chance to visit with Tim on the phone a few
times. He was involved in one of the interviews. I
understand the impact that Tim has on this university. Again, I
want to lean on Tim and visit with him about some ideas because he's
been around football. I just enjoyed talking to him on the phone.
Q. Coach, you talked about having what it takes, having what you
need to win
here. What kind of conversations have you had about moving forward, about facility development, things like that?
MARK STOOPS: That's really not for me to discuss. That's
for Dr. Capilouto and Mitch
Barnhart to discuss. I know there's a process going on right now
that they're working through. I think I'd like to refer that to
MITCH BARNHART: We've been working in concert with the university
on facility plans on a lot of fronts. Dr. Capilouto and the
trustees have been tremendous about working through all those
details. Obviously as Dr. Capilouto referred to in his remarks,
there are pieces of that that will have to appear at the legislative
level. We want to do it in concert with what is best for the
university. It's clearly an important part of our program and
I think everyone is aware of that. Hopefully we'll be able to
move on that and get some more information out on that soon.
Q. Mark, could you talk a little bit more about the interview
process. You took the job sight unseen. What did you know
MARK STOOPS: Mr. Barnhart and I met, oh, just over three weeks
ago. It came at a perfect time. We had a Thursday game, so
I was free on a Saturday. It was just after the position came
open, shortly after that. We had a chance to meet and go into
great detail about Kentucky, about what my plans were.
We talked at length that particular day, then we've had ongoing
conversations since then. Again, had conversations with a group
of people that I mentioned earlier on the phone, a conference
call. So that's kind of how the timeline went.
Q. Mark, could you elaborate on that a little bit. During
the interview process, what was your sales pitch to Mitch and company
that you don't need to look any farther than Mark Stoops?
MARK STOOPS: I don't know if there is a sales pitch. I am
who I am. You'll get to know me as we go forward. But, you
know, it's all about recruiting, developing the players that you have,
developing them as total people. That's what I'm all about, doing
I'm very much of a meat and potatoes kind of guy. I have a
plan. We have a vision. But there's going to be a lot of
hard work and a lot of consistency in what we do.
Q. What do you see as your biggest challenge going forward here?
MARK STOOPS: Well, it's a tough conference. You have to be
physical. I think it's of great importance that we develop our
strength to be able to compete at this level. We have to go out
and recruit. You have to recruit each and every day, each and
every year, to keep on building your program.
Q. Just to clarify, had you been on campus just before the last
couple days or today? If not, what had friends of yours in
coaching told you about Kentucky?
MARK STOOPS: I had not been on campus. I had friends that
had been here just this past summer and discussed it with them.
But, no, I had not been on campus.
Q. From a recruiting standpoint, what areas do you plan on
targeting? I know you have Florida and Ohio.
MARK STOOPS: Kentucky, obviously we're going to recruit Kentucky
hard and take care of our home. We're going to recruit Ohio very
hard. I have strong ties in Ohio. There's very good
football players in Ohio. We'll work through the Carolinas,
Florida, and Georgia a little bit.
Q. Mitch, I want to clarify. Did you make some specific
commitments to Coach Stoops about improvements in facilities in terms
of recruiting him?
MITCH BARNHART: There have been plans we've been working on for a
decade, to be honest with you. It's not something new. It's
something we wanted to work on and do work on facilities in general.
When we came here, our facilities package in the athletic department
was not where it needed to be to compete in the SEC in most of the
sports we have. We've systemically taken them piece by piece and
been able to, one way or another, find ways to improve our
facilities. There's a couple major ones left out there for us to
figure out. Obviously, Commonwealth Stadium is on everybody's
heart and mind. We pay attention to that every day.
Dr. Capilouto has been very honest and very forthright with us
explaining how he understands the things we need to do to get better.
Is there a specific timeline? No. I would say we're working
on it sooner rather than later, and that's where we are. All we
can do is go to work every day and try to find a way to make progress
The other one for us is baseball. That's a concern for us as
well. We're trying to work through the normal process as we've
been doing for the last period of time.
But specifically obviously football is on everybody's mind and that's
what we've got to pay attention to.
Q. The football coaching staff here had a Broyles Award finalist,
Mike Summers. Are there any of those guys that are here or
leaving that you would consider at all to retain?
MARK STOOPS: Yes, absolutely you consider them. I have not
had a chance to visit with the coaches yet. I will.
Absolutely, you would consider them.
Q. Coach, over the past few years there's been an influx of
philosophies. We went from the 4‑3 to a weird 3‑3‑5 stack.
Is there a type of scheme you think you can succeed in moving forward?
MARK STOOPS: Yes, we'll be very defined in what we do now
defensively moving forward. We'll play with four down, 4‑3
personnel. Of course, we'll be very multiple from there.
But, again, I have a very clear vision of what we want to do
defensively. Our players will know after the first spring exactly
who we are and what we're all about. So we'll start there and lay
that foundation and build from there.
Q. Coach, as I understand, there are a lot of current players
here that you haven't gotten to meet with them yet. Can you tell
us what message you're going to tell them tomorrow morning?
MARK STOOPS: I'm going to tell them to look forward to it.
A lot of coaches take these positions and try to scare them, tell them
how hard it's going to be. It's going to be hard. There's
no way around that. We're going to work hard, train hard, do
things right. They're going to be accountable and
dependable. There's no other way around that to be successful.
But I'm going to enjoy coaching them. They're going to enjoy
playing for us. They're going to enjoy being a part of this
Kentucky family. They're going to hold their heads high walking
around this campus.
Q. Mark, the recruits that have already verbally committed to
Kentucky, how do they factor into your future plans and what do you
hope to accomplish in recruiting?
MARK STOOPS: We need to make sure they're going to fit our
system. It would be unfair to them if we took their commitment
and it didn't fit what we're going to do. We have to evaluate and
work our way through that process.
Q. Coach Stoops, what was your reaction when you arrived at the
airport today and there were all these people here to greet you?
MARK STOOPS: I felt like it was game day in a way. It was
really exciting. I appreciate your support. I look forward
to working for you. It's just an exciting time for myself and my
family. We're really anxious to get going.
We understand it's going to be a great challenge, but that's what we
embrace, we embrace the process. But the fan support and the
people, everybody's been terrific. We really appreciate that.
Q. Mark, the one concern we've heard among the fan base is, He
doesn't have any head coaching experience. How do you compensate
MARK STOOPS: I understand that. That goes with the
territory. I've been successful. If you look at where I've
been, I feel pretty good about each and every place I've been, we've
been successful. I don't plan on that stopping now.
Q. Mark, you said you have a defensive coordinator targeted and
probably on board to come. Are there any staff names you want to
unveil today? Also, if not, do you expect some of your Florida
State brethren to come with you?
MARK STOOPS: Really, I'm not permitted to talk about it right
now. They need to go through the hiring procedures and all
that. I just got on campus, so I'd really rather not discuss any
of that. I don't want to discuss any Florida State coaches.
It's unfair to the players back there at this time.
Q. Coach, I know here we have a pretty good basketball
team. Have you been able to talk to Coach Cal (John Calipari) any?
MARK STOOPS: I enjoyed talking to Coach Cal. We had a great
conversation. Had a couple conversations with him. I'm
going to enjoy the tradition in basketball, take our recruits to the
games and enjoy it. I really look forward to working with Coach
It will be good. He's from Pittsburgh. I'm from
Youngstown. We're not that far apart there.
Q. Did you approach UK and Mitch or did Mitch approach you about
MARK STOOPS: Yes, I reached out to Mitch and inquired about the
Q. Could you explain why?
MARK STOOPS: I was excited about the opportunity. I thought
I answered that earlier.
I'm excited. I'm really excited. I think it's a great
opportunity. I believe in Mitch. I believe in Dr.
Capilouto. I believe in the vision that we have to get this thing
done. We want to be winners. It's going to take
everybody. It's going to take all of you that are out here
today. It's going to take the administration. It's going to
take coaches. It's going to take players. We're all in this
To win at the level we want to win at, it's going to take all of us
together to get this thing done.
Q. Mark, you've been described as a players' coach. Is that
accurate? If so, what does that mean?
MARK STOOPS: I would like to believe so. I take that as a
compliment. Discipline is never a problem. Generally with
defensive coaches, discipline is not a problem. So I feel very
good about the relationships that I have with my players.
And, yes, I think it is my style to find different ways to motivate
players and to get them on board and get them to believe in
themselves. I think players all need to be coached
differently. They all have different personalities, different
backgrounds. It's your job to figure that out and push the right
Q. You mentioned winning and level of success. What is the
level of success that you believe this program can reach?
MARK STOOPS: To play in the SEC Championship game. And to
win it. Correction: not just to play, but play and win.
Q. Coach, what is your perception of the level of talent in the
state of Kentucky vis‑à‑vis other states that you've worked? Is
that a concern?
MARK STOOPS: Obviously there's not probably as many SEC‑caliber
players in Kentucky. But there are some. It's our job to
get out and work hard and to recruit and keep the great ones home, to
take any player that could help us win, take them and develop them,
mold them to be winning players for us.
I understand that, that there's not as many in this state as others,
but there are some good ones, and it's our job to keep them home.
Q. Could you discuss the terms of contract which we haven't seen
yet and how you got to the numbers and how long it goes?
MITCH BARNHART: I'll take that, because it's one of the few
things I do (laughter).
We have a five‑year deal we put together for Mark. Roughly the
base value is $11 million over the five years. The contract will
be handed out at the end of the press conference. There are
incentives involved which escalate. But the market is changing
rapidly. I think we've got to be fiscally smart about the way we
do our business. We're in a very, very competitive environment.
But we wanted to make sure that Mark knew we wanted him here. We
wanted to make sure that he knew we were committed to football, that he
has got the resources in terms of dollars to go out and get the staff
necessary to get it done.
That's never been an issue for us. I think there's a
misconception out there about that. But we're glad to have him
here for not just five years but a lot longer. If we get this
thing going the right way, we'll have a lot of fun together. We
want to make it a place where the Stoops stay for an awfully long time.
Q. Coach, what is your first impression not only of the Big Blue
Nation but also of Lexington, your new home?
MARK STOOPS: It's been fantastic. We did a fly‑over when we
came in this morning, so had a chance to see the whole city.
But, yeah, I've been very impressed. It's a beautiful
place. I've heard nothing but great things. Everybody that
has come through here, knows the people here, speaks so highly of
it. Just been very impressed with the people. So I'm really
looking forward to moving and getting to be a part of the community.
Q. Coach, can you take us through the decision‑making process of
not coaching Florida State in the bowl, how that came about.
MARK STOOPS: I just think there's too much work to be done.
It's hard to be in two places at one time. This week alone was
extremely challenging. We agreed on Monday evening, so it was a
very long and stressful week for myself. To try to go through
that again, I don't think it's right for either side.
I'm here. I'm working for you now. I'm a part of the Big
Blue Nation. That's where I want to be.
But there is always a balance there because you know how I feel about
my players, my past players at Florida State, the journey that we've
been through. So I plan on being here, working full‑time for
Kentucky, going through the whole process. If I can go back and
help around the dead time when the recruiting ends, there's some dead
time, I may try to go back and help a little bit with game
planning. I'll do whatever I can do to help Florida State win the
game, especially if they play Louisville (laughter).
Q. Coach, what ties do you have to Kentucky, if any? Was
that part of your decision in coming here?
MARK STOOPS: Not many ties. I do now. I have all of
Not many ties to this point. But that's part of our business, to
get in and to become a part of the community, get to know people.
So we're really looking forward to that.
Q. Mark, talk about some of the coaches that have had a influence
on you that you worked under.
MARK STOOPS: That's a good question. There's been quite a
few. I mentioned my father. Of course, that's a big part of
who I am, how I grew up. I had an opportunity to work for Hayden
Fry at the University of Iowa. That was just a tremendous
experience as a player and as a graduate assistant coach. I got
my start with Hayden Fry. Just a tremendous person.
I then went to South Florida, coached for a year under Jim
Leavitt. Went to Wyoming, coached for a few years there under
I'd say the influence would be starting with Hayden Fry and my father,
of course my brothers. The last three years at Florida State, I
think it really gave me a good vision for what I want to do as a head
coach with some of the structure, the way you structure the
organization. I've had the pleasure to work for Coach Fisher the
last few years. That's also helped me.
My brother Mike and my brother Bob, they're just resources I'm always
going to use. They're people that I lean on each and every day
with my brothers. So we obviously talk and rely on each other.
Q. Have you had any chance at all to evaluate the current roster,
have any impressions of what's already here?
MARK STOOPS: Not too much really. We agreed to the contract
Monday night. I was a little bit busy trying to stop that triple
option last night. So that kept me quite busy (laughter).
After we met a few people here tonight, I am ready to get to the office
and work right now.
Q. I know you don't want to talk about details, but did you feel
like you had to get some assurance on investments and facilities?
Were you okay with how it is now? How did that play any part?
MARK STOOPS: I think when Mr. Barnhart and I talked at length for
a long time, you know, I believed in him. I believed in what we
had here and what we were moving towards.
I think that's a big part of it.
Q. Mark, you mentioned Louisville briefly. What are your
thoughts? What do you know about that rivalry?
MARK STOOPS: Oh, I know it's a good rivalry. We're going to
embrace that rivalry. Really looking forward to it.
I've had some great success in rivalry games. So looking forward
to that challenge.