Kentucky confirmed Friday afternoon that it did not retain offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson or wide receivers coach Tommy Mainord.
Dawson confirmed the news about his departure to the Herald-Leader via text message on Thursday, saying he wished he could’ve “done a better job.”
“No hard feelings,” said Dawson, who has a contract that pays him $550,000 a season and runs through 2018. “I support Mark and will root for them to be great next year. I appreciated the opportunity.”
The Mainord news had been rumored for a few days. A UK official confirmed it Friday.
Mainord’s contract, which was renewed in February, runs through June 30, 2017, paying him $275,000 a year until he has gainful employment again.
Every player who caught a pass last season — with the exception of a pass batted back to quarterback Patrick Towles statistically recorded as a catch — is set to return next season.
It was a position group that just wasn’t consistent enough, Coach Mark Stoops said Tuesday in an interview with the Herald-Leader and Courier-Journal of Louisville.
“They played some good football, but too inconsistent for us,” Stoops said. “That group needs to continue to improve to be difference makers. If you’re going to run this style of offense, they have to be difference makers.
“Even though we made some really spectacular plays at times, I just think the overall consistency of that group needs to improve.”
When adversity struck, that group didn’t always respond well.
“We need to get more players on the field and see more guys making a difference and getting opportunities,” Stoops said Tuesday when asked about the drops. “When they get opportunities — they get opportunities every day — they’ve just got to make the most of them when they get out there. They are out there, sometimes they don’t see it.”
After the loss to Louisville that ended the season, Dawson said the drops were an enigma to him.
When asked how UK could overcome that in the future, the former offensive coordinator said: “I don’t know. I’ve never really had that issue in the past.”
Kentucky’s returning wide receivers next season include Dorian Baker (55 catches, 608 yards, three touchdowns); Garrett Johnson (45 catches, 694 yards, two TDs); Jeff Badet (29 catches, 430 yards, two TDs) and Ryan Timmons (12 catches, 114 yards, one score).
Mainord was a key recruiter for the Cats the past two seasons, helping UK get into important territories in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., areas.
In the 2016 class, Mainord was listed as the primary recruiter on linebacker Jamar Watson. In last season’s signing class, Mainord helped bring in wide receivers Jabari Greenwood and Tavin Richardson, and defensive back Will Jackson.
In the 2014 class, Kentucky’s highest rated of the Stoops era, Mainord helped land wide receivers Blake Bone and T.V. Williams as well as linebacker Kobie Walker.