LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky has hired Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops as its new football coach.
The university announced Tuesday that Stoops will replace Joker Phillips, who was fired on Nov. 4. Phillips went 13-24 in three seasons at Kentucky.
The 45-year-old Stoops will be introduced at a news conference on Sunday. No. 13 Florida State (10-2) plays Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game on Saturday.
Stoops, brother of Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, has been the Seminoles’ defensive coordinator the past three seasons. Florida State’s defense was ranked 108th when he took over and he has turned the Seminoles into one of the nation’s top defensive teams.
The Seminoles have the nation’s second-ranked defense, giving up 249.4 yards per game. Kentucky allowed 391 yards a contest this season.
Stoops overhauled the Florida State defense in 2010, his first season as defensive coordinator. The Seminoles gave up 19.6 points per game, third-best in the ACC and 20th nationally. FSU ranked 42nd nationally in total defense that season; in contrast, the team was 108th nationally in total defense and 94th in scoring defense in 2009, the year before Stoops’ arrival.
FSU improved its overall defense by more than 80 yards per game, primarily by limiting opponents to 75 fewer rushing yards per game. The Seminoles ranked third in the nation in quarterback sacks and were 21st in tackles for loss. In the secondary, Stoops coached Xavier Rhodes to ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors and National Defensive Freshman of the Year accolades.
During Stoops’ three seasons, FSU has gone 10-4, 9-4 and 10-2, including wins against South Carolina in the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl and Notre Dame in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl. The Seminoles’ 2012 bowl bid will be announced Sunday.
“I am thrilled to be named the head football coach at the University of Kentucky,” Stoops said. “My family and I are excited and looking forward to becoming a part of the Big Blue Nation.
“First of all, 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.
“I want to thank President Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart for this opportunity. 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.”
University of Kentucky contributed to this report.
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