TALLAHASSEE Mark Stoops turned a Florida State defense that was ranked 100th in the Football Bowl Subdivision into one of the best in the nation in just three years.
And now Stoops is taking over as head coach at Kentucky, a program that is coming off two losing seasons under Joker Phillips and has struggled against Southeastern Conference powers for decades.
Mark's passion has been evident in the way he coaches and in his love for the game of football, Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said. Our desire to get better defensively and continue to expand our recruiting base helped guide us to Mark.
He comes from a coaching family and has been in big games and big atmospheres throughout his career. That has prepared him for this opportunity to become head coach at Kentucky.
This is the first head coaching job for Stoops, who has been a defensive coordinator at both Arizona and Florida State.
I want to thank President (Eli) Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart for this opportunity, Stoops said. I promise the faithful of the Big Blue Nation I will be focused and driven to create a positive, winning atmosphere for the program and an environment that all of Kentucky can be proud of.
I want to thank Jimbo Fisher and Florida State University for allowing me to be the defensive coordinator at Florida State. It has been three of the greatest years of my life. I am grateful for the support of all Seminole fans as we focus on the ACC Championship.
Stoops will coach Florida State in Saturdays Atlantic Coast Conference championship game against Georgia Tech. It is not clear if he will remain on staff for the Seminoles bowl game.
The Seminoles allowed 30 points a game in 2009, the last season that Mickey Andrews coached the defense. But Jimbo Fisher took over for Bobby Bowden in 2010, and he hired Stoops.
And in Stoops three seasons, those numbers have dropped dramatically 18 points allowed per game in 2010, 15 in 2011 and 15 this season.
Florida State is second nationally in total defense (249 yards per game), third nationally in rushing defense (85 yards per game), sixth in passing defense (164.3 yards per game) and seventh in scoring defense (15 points per game).
And the Seminoles have been successful despite the loss of All-American defensive end Brandon Jenkins, who suffered a foot injury in the season opener, and talented corner Greg Reid, who was dismissed from the team on Aug. 1. Florida State also lost Tank Carradine to a knee injury in the loss to Florida on Saturday.
Hes been diverse but I think hes still kept it simple enough that were able to play, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said a few weeks ago. Its a very sound system. We keep great leverage on the ball. We have very good players. Hes put them in good position and were being very aggressive. Marks a heck of a football coach.
Stoops has coached at Wyoming, Houston, Miami and Arizona. As Miamis defensive backs coach from 2001-03, he coached Ed Reed, Philip Buchanon, Kelly Jennings, Brandon Merriweather, Antrel Rolle, Mike Rumph and Sean Taylor. The Hurricanes also won the national title in 2001.
Marks brother, Bob, is the head coach at Oklahoma. Another brother, Mike, is on the Sooners staff and was also the coach at Arizona when Mark was the Wildcats defensive coordinator from 2004-09.