UK FOOTBALL | Mark Stoops a candidate for South Carolina job

10/14/2015 10:39 AM

LEXINGTON — Now that Steve Spurrier has resigned from his head coaching duties at South Carolina, the Gamecocks are putting together a list of potential replacements, possibly including Kentucky’s own Mark Stoops.

ESPN writer Travis Haney compiled a list of six top candidates for the coaching vacancy in Columbia, and here’s his reasoning for considering Stoops:

  • Kentucky is 4-1 and needs to erase the bad memories of 2014, when it started 5-1, ended with six straight losses and missed a bowl game. Regardless, it’s clear to those in the coaching community that Stoops has brought the Wildcats a long, long way in two-plus seasons. The talent level is up. Fan involvement is up. UK is trending in the right direction.
  • His assistant hires have been particularly strong, both in terms of recruiting and on-field performance; that is bound to be meaningful in Tanner’s evaluation process.
  • And don’t mistake the importance of that last name. Stoops’ brother, Bob, is perhaps the most prized assistant Spurrier has ever had, going back to the Florida days. The Oklahoma coach has Spurrier’s ear, and surely Tanner will listen to a suggestion from Spurrier.
  • More than a few coaches have noted that Mark Stoops likely understands the ceiling at Kentucky. Sometimes an in-division move makes sense; South Carolina will always be the better football job, just as Kentucky will always be the better basketball job.
  • If Mark Stoops gets the Cats to a bowl game, and he should, then this is absolutely a name to note.
  • And an aside: Anyone suggesting his brother for South Carolina is dreaming. Bob Stoops has a far better job.
  • “If he didn’t leave for Florida, he isn’t leaving for South Carolina,” a head coach told me Monday, laughing at the notion. He did add that it was more likely than the “other” USC, just because of the solid AD in Tanner.

In just his third year in Lexington, Stoops has the Kentucky Wildcats off to a 4-1 start for the second straight season, including back-to-back victories over Spurrier at South Carolina.

All worries aside, the rumors should be a good sign for Big Blue Nation. If Stoops wasn’t doing a great job at UK, no other schools would express interest in him — kind of like the annual talks of John Calipari leaving for the NBA.

But for now, let’s hope the chatter ends at rumors only.


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