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ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit: Mark Stoops obvious name for FSU job

Herbstreit: “I miss Florida State. I think college football misses Florida State being a 10-win team year in and year out.”
Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops walk on the field prior to the NCAA college football game against Missouri, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Lexington, Ky. [BRYAN WOOLSTON | AP]
Published Nov. 7

ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit doesn’t yet have a great read on Florida State’s open coaching position. But as the Seminoles work behind the scenes to try to find Willie Taggart’s replacement by the end of the month, one potential target makes sense for Herbstreit.

“And I think that the most obvious name to come to the top of my head is Mark Stoops,” Herbstreit said Wednesday afternoon during a teleconference with reporters.

RELATED: Who will replace Willie Taggart at FSU? Some names to watch

Stoops served as FSU’s defensive coordinator under Jimbo Fisher from 2010-12. In the final two years, Stoops’ defense was in the top 10 nationally in scoring and yards per play allowed to earn him the head coaching job at Kentucky. Now in his seventh season with the Wildcats, Stoops has an overall record of 40-43, but has gone 28-19 since 2016, including 10-3 last season with a victory over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl.

The 'Cats are currently 4-4.

Former Seminoles defensive coordinator Mark Stoops has familiarity with FSU and the inner workings of the program. That could give him a boost as the school seeks a new football coach.

“(Stoops) has done a pretty good job there,” Herbstreit said. “Won 10 games last year, which is tough to do in the SEC when you’re in Lexington. And so I think he would be an obvious candidate, but there are a lot of other guys that I’m sure will be candidates…”

Herbstreit said he doesn’t think FSU should pursue an elite coordinator for its opening. Instead, he thinks the Seminoles should pursue an established coach who knows the state well.

It’s worth remembering that Mark’s brother, Bob Stoops, told Herbstreit earlier this week that he wasn’t a candidate for the FSU job.

RELATED: Why the FSU-Bob Stoops speculation might (and might not) make sense

“I think after everything they have been through for the last few years I think they need to find somebody that's familiar with the state as far as recruiting, somebody that's familiar with that school and some of the ways that school works and operates,” Herbstreit said.

Despite everything FSU has gone through — from a 29-game winning streak to the worst three-year stretch since 1974-76 —Herbstreit still sees FSU as a “heavyweight job.”

RELATED: Did Willie Taggart leave FSU better than he found it?

“Maybe it’s because I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s and loved Bobby Bowden and loved that program and want them to be great,” Herbstreit said. “I mean, I miss Florida State. I think college football misses Florida State being a 10-win team year in and year out.

“So I think it’s a great job, I think it’s a little tricky as far as it’s not — you know you coach at some of these places and no matter what the product is on the field the stadium’s sold out, everybody’s there, there’s a buzz in the air that kind of thing. I don’t know if that’s necessarily like that right now, but I think if you can bring in a dynamic head coach to get people excited, get the players excited, I think there’s a chance that it can get back to what it needs to be.”

RELATED: The three beginnings that led to Willie Taggart’s end at FSU

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

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