Mark Stoops, the University of Kentucky's new head coach, 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.
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky has hired Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops as the Wildcats’ football coach.
Stoops replaces Joker Phillips, who was fired on Nov. 4. Phillips went 13-24 in three seasons at Kentucky and the Wildcats were 0-8 in the Southeastern Conference this year.
Kentucky made the announcement on Tuesday and the 45-year-old Stoops will be introduced here at a news conference on Sunday. No. 13 Florida State (10-2) plays Georgia Tech Saturday in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
Stoops’ hiring concludes a quicker-than-expected coaching search by the university. After Saturday’s season-ending loss at Tennessee, Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said he had no timetable to find a replacement for Phillips.
But it didn’t take long for Barnhart and the Wildcats to make a move. The decision makes Stoops a head coach for the first time in his career.
“I want to thank (Kentucky) President Eli Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart for this opportunity,” Stoops said in a statement. “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.”
Stoops becomes the third brother in college football’s famed coaching family to lead his own program. Older brother Bob Stoops is the head coach at Oklahoma and Mike Stoops is the Sooners’ defensive coordinator. Before joining the Oklahoma staff this year, Mike was the head coach at Arizona.
Mark 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.
“Our desire to get better defensively and continue to expand our recruiting base helped guide us to Mark,” Barnhart said. “He comes from a coaching family and has been in big games and big atmospheres throughout his career.”
Now Stoops’ challenge will be making Kentucky competitive in the conference that has won the last six BCS national championships.
The Wildcats are coming off their third straight losing season and second without a bowl appearance. Seven of their eight conference losses this season were by margins of at least two touchdowns, including a 40-0 blowout at home to Vanderbilt on Nov. 3 and a 37-17 season-ending loss at Tennessee on Saturday.
Stoops has a proven track record of rebuilding defenses, which represents a philosophical shift from the offense-minded Phillips.
Before joining Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher’s staff, Stoops resurrected an Arizona defense with similar issues that Kentucky experienced. Arizona was 109th in total defense before his arrival; the defense was ranked in the top 25 in his final two seasons and Arizona earned consecutive bowl bids.
Stoops leaves a Florida State program poised to claim a BCS bowl bid if it wins the ACC championship on Saturday. The Seminoles enter the ACC title game with the nation’s seventh-ranked scoring defense, allowing 15.1 points per game.
“I am extremely happy for Mark and his family,” Fisher said in a statement. “He has done a tremendous job for us here as a defensive coordinator and he is a vital part of our staff. … He has done a super job for us and this opportunity is well deserved.
“He is very well prepared and I think he will do one heck of a job for the University of Kentucky.”
Gambling investigation prompts Tulsa AD leave
OKLAHOMA CITY — Tulsa athletic director Ross Parmley was placed on paid leave Tuesday as the university investigates allegations that he may have been involved with an alleged bookie in Oklahoma City.
University President Steadman Upham issued a brief statement saying Parmley will be on paid administrative leave during the investigation. Upham didn't offer details about whether the allegations involved sports betting or other forms of gambling that may or may not be illegal in the state.
The 39-year-old Parmley was hired at Tulsa in January after serving three months as interim AD. He previously served as Tulsa's director of football operations and assistant athletic director for football, according to the school's athletic department website.
His lawyer, Derek Chance, said Parmley is cooperating with investigators.
Upham said the university's executive vice president, Kevan Buck, will be the acting athletic director while Parmley is on leave. A school spokesman declined further comment.
Parmley's name was linked last week to Teddy Mitchell of Oklahoma City, who is accused of running an illegal gambling operation. In recently unsealed court documents, Parmley is described as an "admitted gambler with Mitchell," who is awaiting trial in April.
Parmley has not been charged in the case, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Troester. The prosecutor would not comment on whether Parmley may testify for prosecutors during Mitchell's trial.
Chance stressed that Parmley is not the focus of the investigation.
"I just want everyone to know that he is not a target or a subject of the investigation. But he has cooperated with federal authorities in the investigation of alleged gambling activities by Teddy Mitchell," Chance said.
The Oklahoma City-based attorney said he was trying to keep up with developments in the case. When asked if Parmley expected to testify at Mitchell's trial, Chance said: "Therein lies some of the struggle." He declined further comment.
The affidavit unsealed last week alleges that a check for $1,782 from Parmley, along with other funds, were deposited into one of Mitchell's account in late 2009.
Mitchell, 57, and his two sons are among nine people named in an 81-count federal indictment unsealed in September. All are accused of participating in an illegal gambling business that operated poker games, took sports wagers, used an illegal gambling website and laundered illegal gambling proceeds.
Mitchell, who prosecutors allege was the leader of the operation, has pleaded not guilty.
Authorities say Mitchell has been under investigation for more than two years as state and federal grand juries looked into the alleged criminal activity, as well as the November 2010 beating death of his wife, Julie Mitchell, whose body was found inside the couple's Oklahoma City home. Her death remains unsolved.
According to the NCAA website, the organization's rules "prohibit student-athletes, and athletics department, conference office, and NCAA national office employees from wagering on intercollegiate, amateur, and professional sports in which the association conducts championships."