In anticipation of Saturday’s SEC showdown between Kentucky and Ohio, Saturday Down South’s Ethan Levine compares the teams’ head coaches: Mark Stoops and Frank Solich

Mark Stoops

  • Record as FBS head coach: 3-10 (3-10 at Kentucky)
  • Previous coaching stops: Florida State (defensive coordinator, defensive backs coach), University of Arizona (defensive coordinator, defensive backs coach), University of Miami (defensive backs coach), University of Houston (co-defensive coordinator), University of Wyoming (defensive backs coach), University of South Florida (defensive backs coach), Nordonia High School (defensive backs coach), University of Iowa (graduate assistant).
  • Achievements as coach: N/A

Breakdown: Stoops has made a tremendous impact in a short amount of time at the helm of the Kentucky program. He led the Cats to a 2-10 record in his first season in Lexington, the same record the Cats posted the year before his arrival. Stoops has put together back-to-back top-40 recruiting classes, depending on who you ask, and that talent began paying off in last week’s 2014 opener against UT Martin. The Cats had a number of rookies make major impacts in that game, and the team had its best offensive game in years against the Skyhawks. Stoops comes from a defensive background, and he’ll need his savvy on that side of the ball to slow down an Ohio offense that averaged nearly 28 points per game last season.

Frank Solich

  • Record as FBS head coach: 125-59 (58-19 at Nebraska, 67-50 at Ohio)
  • Previous coaching stops: University of Nebraska (running backs coach, freshmen team coach), Lincoln Southeast High School (head coach), Holy Name High School (head coach).
  • Achievements as coach: Big 12 Conference champion, two-time Big 12 coach of the year, MAC coach of the year.

Breakdown: Solich is formerly the longtime head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, where he won 75 percent of his games from 1998-2003. He won three Big 12 North Division titles and the 1999 Big 12 championship, and was twice named the conference’s coach of the year. He was fired from his job at Nebraska in 2003 but signed on to coach at Ohio beginning in 2004, where he has won 67 games and reached six bowl games in his first nine seasons on the job. Solich has an exclusively offensive coaching background, and his teams traditionally run the ball very well, especially his old option teams at Nebraska.

Who has the edge: Solich holds an edge as the better coach, simply because he is more experienced and has more successful seasons on his resume. The way Stoops has grown the Kentucky program in a short time indicates he has a bright coaching future in front of him. He led the nation’s No. 1 defense in 2012 while at Florida State, but has won just 3-of-13 games as a head coach, which he’ll need to improve upon before he’s considered ahead of a guy like Solich. The former Huskers and current Ohio coach has won conference titles and reached bowl games at a national power and a mid-major, showing his coaching abilities translate to all levels. Kentucky has the better team, and it should remain pleased with its head coach, but Ohio’s head man earns the edge in this comparison.