Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has said multiple times that he wants his assistants to be pursued for other jobs – that having members of his staff coveted by other college football programs is a sign of progress and succeess.
“He got an opportunity to go on and further his career and it’s something he wants to do," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "I’m happy for him.”
That belief came to fruition Tuesday when Mark Stoops, Fisher's only defensive coordinator during his three-year tenure in Tallahassee, accepted an offer to become the next head football coach at the University of Kentucky.
Fisher said after practice Tuesday said that he was thrilled for Stoops, who oversaw a defense that went from one of the worst in the country in 2009, the year before he arrived, to one of the best this season.
“I’m very proud of him. Very happy for him,” Fisher said. “He got an opportunity to go on and further his career and it’s something he wants to do. I’m happy for him.”
Fisher confirmed that Stoops would remain on staff for Saturday's Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game against Georgia Tech, but did not know how the team or Stoops would approach the subsequent bowl game.
“We haven’t even talked through that yet,” Fisher said, “it’s all about Georgia Tech right now.”
In his three seasons at FSU, Stoops has been instrumental not only in bringing in top defensive talent, but also becoming a coach that those players like and respect.
Safety Lamarcus Joyner, recently named first-team All-ACC, said that Stoops was a father figure to him. And defensive end Bjoern Werner, also a first-team all-conference selection, said that, upon hearing the news of Stoops' new opportunity, the team rose up in a standing ovation.
“Everybody knew how much he put into this program and he turned it around pretty fast on defense,” Werner said.
Safety Lamarcus Joyner said that Mark Stoops was a father figure to him.
“He's been very important for me,” Joyner said. “Not just as a football coach but as a father figure. There are a lot of things that Coach Stoops knows about me that a lot of people don't. He helped me get through this whole thing in my college career. He's always been there for me.”
Winning consistently at Kentucky has historically been a tall order. The Wildcats are coming off a 2-10 season under the recently fired Joker Phillips and have had just four winning seasons in the last 10 years.
Both Stoops' colleagues and players, though, feel he has what it takes to be successful in Lexington.
“We all believe that Coach Stoops will be a great head coach,” Joyner said.
“Because in order to be a great head coach, I believe you have to be a great person first. And that Coach Stoops has all the credentials of all that.
“I think it will rub off on his staff and his players and people will want to play for him and win for him.”