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Mark Stoops

Nov 19, 2022; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops looks on during the first quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs at Kroger Field. Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Stoops, a member of one of the top football families in America, has built Kentucky into a program that has seen the Wildcats enjoy success not seen in decades, if ever.

A native of a blue-collar community in Youngstown, Ohio, Stoops has methodically built UK into a perennial dark-horse contender in the SEC East thanks to a steady work ethic and strong recruiting, particularly with relationships in Ohio.

Stoops is often cited as one of the best program builders in college football.

He inherited a program that was 2-10 the year before, and 2 games into the 2016 season, his overall record was 12-26. But the program took off from there and the coach has engineered a 54-32 (.628) mark since.

Stoops coached UK to several historic accomplishments. That includes 4-straight bowl wins – the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1, 2022, the 2020 Gator Bowl, the 2019 Belk Bowl and the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1, 2019. It was first time in school history that UK won 4-straight bowl games.

The Wildcats also have a school-record 20-game win streak against non-conference competition, currently the longest active streak in the nation (2018-present).

With Stoops at the helm, the Big Blue Nation has reason to feel the program is in capable hands, and the foundation is secure as he has enjoyed the most sustained run of success in school history.

Other accomplishments include:

Along with brothers Bob and Mike, Stoops played in the secondary at Iowa for Hall of Fame coach Hayden Fry, while the eldest Stoops brother, Ron Jr., is retired after he coached at Youngstown State.

Stoops has recruited and developed numerous notable defensive backs, including Mike Edwards, Brandin Echols, Lonnie Johnson Jr., Kelvin Joseph and Chris Westry at Kentucky, Antoine Cason and Michael Johnson at Arizona, Miami’s Philip Buchanon, Kelly Jennings, Brandon Meriweather, Ed Reed, Antrel Rolle, Mike Rumph and Sean Taylor and Wyoming’s Brian Lee.

Stoops was already Kentucky’s longest-tenured coach, but in September 2022 surpassed Paul “Bear” Bryant as its career wins leader with his 61st in a victory over Florida.

Stoops was Florida State’s defensive coordinator from 2010-12 before he landed the Kentucky job. Stoops inherited a defense ranked 108th in the nation in total defense and by the 2012 season, the Seminoles were second in the nation in total defense, allowing 254.1 yards per game, and sixth nationally in scoring defense at 14.7 points per game. FSU led the ACC in 7 defensive categories.

Stoops was defensive coordinator and DBs coach at Arizona from 2004-09, where he worked with his brother, Mike, who was head coach of the Wildcats. Similar to FSU, Stoops inherited an Arizona unit that was 109th in the nation in total defense and 107th in scoring defense in 2003 — the year before he arrived. By the end of his tenure at Arizona, the Wildcats had a top-25 defense his final two seasons and ranked as high as 33rd in scoring defense.

Stoops was also the defensive backs coach at Miami for 3 years, including the 2001 national championship season when the Hurricanes led the nation in pass efficiency defense, scoring defense and turnover margin.

Mark Stoops’ Coaching Experience

Head coaching record

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