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Mark Stoops dubbed college football’s 18th-best head coach

Stoops is coming off what many would call a down year, and he’s still among the top coaches in the FBS.

Mark Stoops Dylan Ballard - A Sea Of Blue

Formerly the Florida State Seminoles’ defensive backs coach, Mark Stoops joined Kentucky in 2013.

He’s been the head coach for a decade and reached a bowl game in seven-straight seasons, winning four of them. Stoops had stints at Arizona, Miami, Houston, and others prior to joining the Cats. Those prepared him to take the Wildcats program to a new level.

While he went 7-6 a season ago, having an AP high of No. 7, Stoops has had two double-digit win seasons over his last five. For that, Stoops cracked the list of CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli’s top 25 college football head coaches.

Here’s what he had to say about the Kentucky leader.

“It’s a sign of the respect Stoops has garnered for what he’s done at Kentucky that he only dropped two spots after a step back last season. Not much went to plan for the Wildcats as a bad offensive line led to a struggle to reach 7-6. Seeing how things shake out in 2023 now that Tennessee is on an upward trajectory will be interesting,” Fornelli wrote.

Nick Saban (Alabama), Kirby Smart (Georgia), and Brian Kelly (LSU) were the SEC coaches that cracked the top ten. Four Big Ten coaches make the cut, the most of any conference. Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin (14) and Tennessee’s Josh Heupel (16) also topped Stoops.

As for Stoops, he came in at No. 16 a year ago, so the underperformance of the Cats, a team with higher expectations due to the potential of quarterback Will Levis, certainly looked poorly on Stoops.

Nonetheless, with NC State transfer Devin Leary, the team’s starting quarterback, the sky is once again the limit, and Stoops will be able to shoot up the charts if he can outperform with this group.