2016 Purdue Football Coaching Search: Mark Stoops
Candidate Tier #3
Category: Old(ish) Candidates
Who Is He?
Mark Stoops is the current head coach at Kentucky, in his fourth season in Lexington. Prior to that, he was an assistant and a DC at a number of places, including Miami (YTM), Arizona and Florida State. UK is, so far, his only head coaching experience. At 49 (which, by the way, is an excellent age to be), he’s still reasonably young by coaching standards. As a current head coach, he is not yet available; while it sounds like his buyout would be nearly Weis-level, never say never when it comes to SEC football, even if it means a little basketball money has to come into play.
Why would he be successful at Purdue?
He knows what it’s like to coach at a low-end school in a power conference. He’s got a solid background in football, from playing at Youngstown Cardinal Mooney and Iowa to having occasional dinners (one presumes) with brothers Bob and Mike, current and former I-A head coaches. He’s familiar with the challenges that come from recruiting in this area, with more elites than you can shake a stick at showing up at every door you’ve been to.
Also, he could occasionally bribe Bob into dressing up as him and switching places every so often; they’re identical twins*, so this would be easy to pull off. He’s tried to run the Air Raid offense at UK, which is a good sign; Purdue coaches who run the same-old same-old struggle mightily.
Why could he flop at Purdue?
He’s struggled at Kentucky in a situation very close to the one at Purdue (Joker Phillips took over for Rich Brooks and went 2-10 in his final season, with Stoops hired to pick up the pieces). He’s beaten only one ranked team in four years, the 2015 Missouri team that ended up 5-7. He’s 0-3 against Tennessee, losing the last two games 50-16 and 52-21. Although he’s 3-3 in 2016, those three wins are against bad teams. Man, this sounds uncomfortably familiar.
Would he come to Purdue?
Unlikely. Stoops is making SEC-level money and has more than 12 months of fully-guaranteed employment left on his contract. If Mitch Barnhart does manage to dig up enough money to buy out Stoops, it’s hard to imagine him getting right back into a similar situation.
Even though he might be willing to take less money, knowing that he just got an eight-figure buyout, there are better environments for him elsewhere. Who knows? Maybe Oklahoma will be looking for a new DC soon.
*completely false; Bob is nearly 7 years older