Sunday, February 25, 2018
Colleges

Florida State defensive coordinator now Kentucky coach says Wildcats can win SEC

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Mark Stoops was introduced Sunday as Kentucky's new football coach and got everyone's attention, saying he believes the Wildcats are capable of winning the SEC title.

He didn't say it would be easy, but it's not impossible.

"There are no magic wands," Stoops said at a news conference.

Kentucky is confident Stoops can rebuild a program that finished its third straight losing season and was 0-8 in the SEC.

Stoops, the former Florida State defensive coordinator, becomes a head coach for the first time and receives a five-year, $11 million deal. He will begin at Kentucky immediately and will not accompany FSU to its bowl.

"There's too much work to do at Kentucky, and it's hard to be in two places at once," said Stoops, 45, hired to replace Joker Phillips, who went 13-24.

Stoops arrived in Lexington less than 18 hours after FSU beat Georgia Tech 21-15 for the ACC title and a berth in the Orange Bowl.

Stoops is the third and youngest brother from the famed coaching family to lead his own program. Older brother Bob is Oklahoma's coach and Mike, the former coach at Arizona, is the Sooners' defensive coordinator.

In three seasons as FSU's defensive coordinator the team went from being ranked No. 108 to one of Division I-A's top defensive units. "I'm a defensive guy," Stoops said. "This is the SEC. It's a physical conference. … We have to build this foundation with great defense. … If you don't play great defense, you're not going to win consistently."

'Mailman' rips La. Tech for blowing bowl bid

Louisiana Tech will not play in a bowl game after finishing 9-3 and turning down an invitation to play in the Independence Bowl, which has maybe its most famous alumnus up in arms.

Athletic director Bruce Van De Velde said that Independence Bowl organizers offered a spot in their game on Saturday afternoon, but the Bulldogs had other possible options still available. Van De Velde said he asked the bowl for more time to make a decision but was told by game organizers they could not wait.

Basketball Hall of Famer Karl Malone ripped his alma mater on Twitter: "I am Bulldog to the core, I am heartbroken and embarrassed that our university would do this to Tech Nation. To our football and staff this … is exactly what is wrong with our university. Now it's time to get former athletes to run our program. I'm (6-foot-9) and not hard to find."

The Bulldogs finished third in the WAC, which has only one bowl tie-in. That went to champion Utah State. San Jose State, which finished second, will play in the Military Bowl.

Louisiana Tech said it was in line to play in the Liberty Bowl, but when Oklahoma missed out on the BCS, it caused a chain reaction that pushed Iowa State out of the Heart of Dallas Bowl and into the Liberty Bowl in the Bulldogs' place.

Tech is leaving the WAC to join Conference USA, which has five bowl tie-ins, next season. The WAC will no longer sponsor football after this season.

A Petrino to Idaho: Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino, brother of fired Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino, was hired as coach at Idaho, ESPN reported. The Vandals were 1-11.

N.C. State: Coach Dave Doeren, who is leaving bowl-bound Northern Illinois, wanted to go somewhere he could have an impact, saying at his introductory news conference: "It seemed like a place that was very close to getting to the next step. I feel like I can make a difference here." The Wolfpack hasn't won a league title since 1979.

Purdue: Cincinnati coach Butch Jones interviewed for the Boilermakers' opening but had no offer, several media outlets reported. The Denver Post reported that Colorado is interested in Jones.

Vanderbilt: Coach James Franklin received another contract after an 8-4 season and a berth in the Music City Bowl. No details were released.

Virginia: Defensive coordinator Jim Reid was among the four assistants let go from coach Mike London's staff after a 4-8 season. Also, junior quarterback Michael Rocco was released from his scholarship and will transfer. No destination was given.

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