Sidelines with John Clay

Explanation needed concerning Matt House’s decision to stay at UK

Kentucky football received a surprising shot of good news Saturday night with the announcement that defensive coordinator Matt House had turned down the Kansas City Chiefs to stay at UK.

A couple of tweets, however, put a much different spin on the story. Both Terez Paylor, senior NFL writer for Yahoo Sports who covered the Chiefs for the Kansas City Star, and Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network tweeted that House wanted to accept the job as linebackers coach of the Chiefs, but was blocked by UK from taking the job.

All of this followed a Friday morning tweet from ESPN’s Field Yates that House was set to leave Kentucky to reunite with new Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. House had worked for Spagnuolo, when the former New York Giants defensive coordinator was head coach of the St. Louis Rams from 2009 through 2011.

After that, House was an assistant and then defensive coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh (2012-2014) and DC at Florida International (2015) before joining Mark Stoops’ staff in 2016. He was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2017. Last season, Kentucky’s defense ranked sixth in the nation in scoring defense.

Much of the UK/Chiefs controversy doesn’t make sense. Under his current contract, set to expire at the end of the 2019 season, House makes $650,000 with a $150,000 buyout. It could be that he has a new contract, not yet released to the public, that includes a higher buyout.

Or it could be that House informed UK of the Chiefs’ offer and asked to renegotiate the buyout. UK said it would, but then changed its mind. House might have then decided that if he was going to have to pay the buyout, he would stay at Kentucky for another year.

All this brings the question of whether you want a coach on your staff who was denied a better job opportunity or wants to work somewhere else. That doesn’t seem like a good working environment.

There is some explaining to do. No official word or explanation from UK yet, but the guess here is that there is more to this story that we will hear about soon.

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John Clay is a sports columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader. A native of Central Kentucky, he covered UK football from 1987 until being named sports columnist in 2000. He has covered 20 Final Fours and 37 consecutive Kentucky Derbys.
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