UK football timeline: Key events in the Mark Stoops era

August 24, 2014 


Coach Mark Stoops worked with the defensive backfield as the Cats practiced early this month. Stoops hopes to end UK's tradition of transitioning from one head coach to another.


Kentucky spent more than $40,000 on a news conference to introduce Mark Stoops as its new head coach, with one school official noting: "That was us saying that this is a big deal, that Kentucky football is a big deal."

It was the administration's way of noting a culture change from the common belief that Kentucky is only a "basketball school."

Now, as his second season at UK begins, Stoops is talking about a significant culture shift within his own program, which includes the announcement of the five core principles that now adorn the practice facility: All In, Accountability, Character, Dependability and Attitude.

The culture change began at the highest levels and has trickled all the way down to student managers, insiders say.

Here are the key events in a transformation that so far has taken place off the field with the hope of setting up the team for positive results on the field in the near future:

Dec. 2, 2012: Stoops was introduced formally at the aforementioned news conference and came armed with the promise to "attack every day." He brought defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot with him from Florida State.

Dec. 10, 2012: Kentucky native Neal Brown came back to UK as offensive coordinator, bringing with him the promise of a high-flying Air Raid offense, but maybe more importantly knowledge of the state of Kentucky. He and Stoops have combined to bring in big-name, home-grown recruits like Jason Hatcher, Matt Elam, Drew Barker and Lloyd Tubman among others.

Dec. 12, 2012: With little fanfare, Stoops brought on High Performance Coordinator Erik Korem, who has introduced UK to sports science and has helped transform the players' bodies, minds and attitudes. He has brought in a well-known strength and conditioning coordinator and a team dietician as well as helping Stoops create the new leadership program.

Dec. 13, 2012: Maybe one of the most important hires of the Stoops era is a friend he's known since they ran the streets of Youngstown, Ohio, together: tight ends coach Vince Marrow. The boisterous, optimistic, aggressive recruiter has been key in getting UK in on the best talent Ohio has to offer.

Feb. 7, 2013: In just a few short weeks on the job, Stoops and staff sign the highest-rated recruiting class in the Internet era, ranked No. 29 by one recruiting service.

Feb. 21, 2013: State legislature approves Kentucky's plan to go through with $120 million renovation of Commonwealth Stadium, which is scheduled to be finished before the start of the 2015 season.

Feb. 1, 2014: Kentucky's Board of Trustees clears the way for UK to break ground on a privately funded $45 million football practice facility, which Mitch Barnhart calls a "significant step for our football program."

Feb. 6, 2014: Stoops follows up that first highly rated recruiting class with the No. 17 rated class in the nation a year later, a class that included four of the state's top five players.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog:,

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