As unhappy as Kentucky fans are, the chances that Kentucky fires Mark Stoops at the conclusion of the 2016 season are slim to none.
Stoops’ contract makes it too difficult to actually do so. By now, everyone knows about the $12 million buyout. The contract situation is starting to hit national outlets.
If you aren’t familiar, Mark Story at the Lexington Herald-Leader wrote a fantastic piece about the buyout and the extension that led to this situation.
In the aftermath of these two games, Kentucky fans have been very displeased with the Wildcats’ coaching staff and have begun to call for Stoops to go.
New uniforms, New logos, New practice facilities, Now time for a New coach #FireStoops— landon obryan (@yungnlo_35) September 10, 2016
I don't know why I'm still watching this game. I guess I'm just an absolutely crazy die hard. I deserve better. We all do. #FireStoops— Burke Garner (@BeezyBGarner) September 10, 2016
Please Kentucky fire Mark Stoops that will be the biggest W for Kentucky football in a long time— (@McElroy1114) September 11, 2016
But while it is easy to create a trendy hashtag or an account dedicated to the firing of the head coach, actually letting Stoops go from his position would be a costly endeavor for the Wildcats.
$12 million is not pocket change. It is not easy to just hand over that kind of money to a coach as he walks out the door, especially when a replacement has to be hired. That does not even begin to take into account the additional payout that would be required for assistants on staff, which raises the buyout total to approximately $18 million.
“Kentucky is in the SEC! They have the money to do it!”
“Just get some of the boosters to pay for it! They will pay to get rid of him and get a real head coach at UK!”
While these kind of statements make for great social media and message board comments, they are hardly practical. There is very little precedence for a buyout of a college football head coach of this magnitude.
The largest buyout of a college football coach that was fired was Charlie Weis at approximately $18 million, according to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach. Weis was fired in 2009, and payouts from that buyout were not finished until December 2015. The Notre Dame-Charlie Weis dilemma has been a “what not to do” for athletic programs across the country.
The next closest buyout to that debacle? Bo Pelini, the former coach of Nebraska, who had a buyout of $7.9 million. That’s 46 monthly payments of more than $132,000 for Pelini to not coach the Cornhuskers. That is followed by
Stoops’ buyout would place him second among the largest buyouts in college football history. If Stoops were to be fired during or at the conclusion of this season— and I will go on record to say that I do not believe he will be unless a major collapse occurs— it would be a devastating financial hit for the University.
With all the clamoring that fans are making to hire a proven, veteran head coach, that will be hard to do when UK will be paying their previous head coach for the next 4-6 years.
I understand the fans’ frustration. I am frustrated too. I think we should see better results on the field during Year Four of this rebuild. The team is now comprised of players Stoops recruited to the program. Fans want to see a team that can compete with other SEC teams and reach a bowl game. These are understandable expectations.
But for all the frustration, firing Mark Stoops during or at the conclusion of this season would be a costly move for the University of Kentucky. Barring a major collapse, in which the team wins three games or less, I cannot see UK adding themselves to this infamous list.