UK Football

Stoops on Florida State speculation: ‘I guess it’s better than the alternative’

Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops during his regularly scheduled Monday news conference addressed speculation that he would be on Florida State’s list of candidates for its newly vacant football job.

In summary: It’s flattering, but right now his focus is on UK and getting the Wildcats ready for their Saturday bout with Tennessee at Kroger Field.

“It’s something that you don’t really want to address in-season,” Stoops said. “Y’know, I guess it’s better than the alternative. For us, and myself, it’s 100 percent concentration on Tennessee. That’s all I want. That’s all I want our team to focus on. That’s all you can do. I guess, with success, you’re gonna have some of that.”

Stoops referenced UK men’s basketball coach John Calipari, and the annual conversation surrounding his job status that occurs.

“This is six and a half years I’ve sit here and listened to Coach Cal and every year he’s going to the NBA, right?” Stoops said with a laugh. “So, you just dismiss it and concentrate on the things you can control. I’m not going to get into speculation. I’m gonna talk about the University of Kentucky and Tennessee.”

Florida State on Sunday fired Willie Taggart, who was in the second year of a six-year, $30 million contract. Stoops is among the names speculated by media members that FSU would consider for the open position; Stoops was the Seminoles’ defensive coordinator from 2010-2012 before UK hired him.

Stoops, who’s in his seventh season as the Wildcats’ skipper, said “there’s no need” to address speculation about FSU with his players this week. “Our players know where my heart’s at and where my focus is, I can promise you,” he said.

He acknowledged that the recruitment of future players is an area wherein speculation needs to be addressed.

“It probably affects that a little bit more, just in the fact of what goes on in this world and social media and all that,” Stoops said. “And I don’t mean to be so old that I can’t understand that, but it’s just a little bit absurd how fast things go, and people like to get out in front of their skis really far in that world. That just needs to be addressed, nothing that we can’t handle. That’s a fair assessment, maybe with recruiting more than anybody else, cause I can promise ya the guys in our building, they’re not going to worry about anything except getting ready for Tennessee.

“So all the folks that’ll think it’s gonna be a distraction, I promise you it won’t.”

Next game

Tennessee at Kentucky

7:30 p.m. Saturday (SEC Network)

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Josh Moore is in his first year covering the University of Kentucky football team and in his fifth year reporting for the Lexington Herald-Leader, where he’s been employed since 2009. Moore, a Martin County native, graduated from UK with a B.A. in Integrated Strategic Communication and English in 2013. He’s a huge fan of the NBA, Power Rangers and country music.