Kentucky has confirmed the hiring of Mark Stoops, the former Florida State defensive co-ordinator.

UK AD Mitch Barnhardt said: “New beginnings always provide a sense of excitement,” Barnhart said. “That’s why today I’m excited for Mark Stoops and his family as they provide a new beginning for our football program, fans and players. I also want to thank FSU coach Jimbo Fisher for his help in the hiring process. Mark’s passion has been evident in the way he coaches and in his love for the game of football.  That passion carried over into our process and his desire to wear the Blue and White.  Our desire to get better defensively and continue to expand our recruiting base helped guide us to Mark.  He comes from a coaching family and has been in big games and big atmospheres throughout his career.  That has prepared him for this opportunity to become head coach at Kentucky.  We welcome Mark, Chantel, Will and Zack to the Big Blue Nation.”

The Wednesday rum0r mill broke the news Wildcats had hired Stoops to be Kentucky early that day.

Kentucky had a 2-10 season last year, with a winless SEC season. They had fired Joker Phillips before the end of the season, but unlike Tennessee’s Derek Dooley, he was allowed to finish the last game on the sideline. Phillips was cheered off after the Wildcats demolished Samford.

Stoops comes from a Florida State side tipped by some college football experts to be in the National Championship Game, but was instead surprised by NC State and then Florida in two mind-bending performances.

Stoops will definitely improve Kentucky’s defense, which gave up 424 yards per game. Reilly Schmidtt, the RantSports blogger, also said: “I believe that bringing in a guy like Stoops will be good for the program…..he will be able to get UK to play some stout defense once he gets some good players into the fold.  In reality, this is a very safe hire that has a lot of upside for the team going forward.”

Frankly, we agree. If he can make Kentucky the home for in-state recruits rather than Louisville, and he can beat the hated Cardinals in the local rivalry game at the start of 2013, then people will love him. They’ll love him more he can get Kentucky to come through with 60-minute games – UK actually played pretty well against South Carolina and Georgia, but failed to come up with an upset-for-the-season ‘W’.

But Stoops is going to need what a lot of coaches haven’t had this season – time to turn this ship around. After all, it fell a long way with Joker Phillips in charge.

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