Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops signed a contract extension earlier this month that confirms he’ll remain in his position through the 2030 season, paying him $9 million annually beginning in February.
During his weekly press conference Monday, Stoops addressed the new agreement in-person for the first time.
He admitted he hated the timing of the signing: Nov. 11, one day before a 24-21 home loss to Vanderbilt, which snapped the Commodores’ 26-game skid in SEC play.
“It was agreed upon when things were really good,” Stoops said, “but obviously I feel bad for (athletics director) Mitch (Barnhart) and (university president) Dr. (Eli) Capilouto in not doing my part. Truthfully, after that game, believe me … I better should stop there. I felt very bad about it, that (Vanderbilt) loss and some of the parts of the season.”
Get informed:Mark Stoops signs contract extension with Kentucky. Here’s what you need to know
Origin story:How Mark Stoops learned to fight and made Kentucky football a contender
How to watch Louisville vs. Kentucky:Kickoff, TV, livestream and radio broadcast
Here are three of the most important things Stoops said about the extension during the presser:
Stability is foremost factor
Countless times during Stoops’ tenure, he’s been linked to openings around the country. Florida State, where he served as defensive coordinator (2010-12) prior to taking over in Lexington. Most recently, his name was bandied about regarding vacancies at football powers Auburn and Nebraska, which still are searching for their next head coach.
On the recruiting trail, Stoops said he constantly has to answer questions about his long-term plans — and whether they still include Lexington.
“I say to them, ‘Show me other programs that have been more stable. I’m committed to this place. I’ve shown it time and time again,'” said Stoops, who is UK’s longest-tenured coach (10 seasons) in school history. “Certainly I appreciate the commitment to myself and our staff. So I think it’s very important and it helps. I don’t like answering that to recruits.”
Best wins:Looking back at Mark Stoops’ milestone wins en route to a Kentucky football record
Worst losses:Where does Kentucky football’s stunning loss to Vanderbilt rank among Mark Stoops’ worst?
Commitment > dollars
At $9 million per season, he’ll be one of the highest-paid coaches in college football. Yet Stoops said the dollar figure meant less to him than the faith Capilouto and Barnhart continue to show a decade into his tenure.
“This is my home. This is a place I’ve helped built to this point. We have built it to this point,” Stoops said. “Do we want more? Yes, I think we want to continue to grow. Dr. Capilouto expects more, Mitch expects more, and I do.
“And I want to continue to build, continue to have the continuity and I want to improve. There are a lot of people who would like to have the stability we’ve had, and there are a lot of people who, much like us, would be driven to compete at higher levels as well.”
Given the tight-knit relationship between the trio — Barnhart has been UK’s AD since 2002, Capilouto has served as president since 2011 and Stoops arrived in 2013 — Stoops said the deal was quick and painless to put together.
“When Mitch Barnhart and Dr. Capilouto make an agreement, we make an agreement. … We have worked together so long, we have a great commitment to each other,” Stoops said, “and a trust and a belief in each other.”
Feeling good:After ‘soul searching,’ Kentucky football’s morale is high heading into Louisville matchup
3 takeaways:Defense holds up, but No. 1 Georgia hands Kentucky football another loss:
Stoops wishes he ‘donate’ some of his salary to his players
In a time of ever-increasing coaching salaries at the highest level of college football — and specifically the SEC, flush with cash from lucrative TV contracts — Stoops won’t have to worry about his bank account any time soon.
At long last, college athletes are receiving money, too, capitalizing on name, image and likeness agreements. For Stoops, it isn’t enough.
He’s disappointed he can’t put his money where his mouth is.
“Believe me, I wish I could take some of that contract I just got and give it to my players and give it to these collectives that everybody does, because I certainly would,” he said. “I wish they’d let me do that. I promise you I’d donate it back to the players.”
Reach Kentucky men’s basketball and football reporter Ryan Black at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @RyanABlack.