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Mark Stoops Staying With Kentucky? SEC Chaos on the Final Saturday Night

Mark Stoops
Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops. Photo via Chet White/UK Athletics.

There’s hardly a dull day when it comes to SEC football.

Saturday’s regular-season finale wasn’t without fireworks on the field. Alabama escaped Auburn thanks to a last-second game-winning pass in the Iron Bowl, Florida gave Florida State a scare, Kentucky found a win over No. 10 Louisville, and Texas A&M went toe-to-toe with LSU for three quarters in Baton Rouge.

But it was the off-the-field storylines that dominated the night for the SEC.

This story doesn’t have any Tennessee connections per se, but with Kentucky being a border rival and both teams in the 16-team SEC list next season, it does have a role in what Tennessee is doing both on and off the field.

There were several reports from various publications throughout the night but we’re going to do our best to follow the story from those that first reported things. There are several twists and turns to the story but here’s a broad rundown.

After Kentucky’s 38-31 win over Louisville to cap off the regular season, around 10:00 p.m. ET, multiple Texas A&M-based outlets (GigEm247, AggieYell (Rivals), and a message board post on TexAgs) all began to report the belief that Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops was expected to be the next coaching hire at Texas A&M following their firing of Jimbo Fisher on November 12, “barring a last minute collapse.

Keep that last part in mind.

That’s when things began to spiral. While Stoops’s name had been swirling around with rumors throughout the day, the reports that he was expected to take the A&M job lit a fire underneath the Texas A&M fanbase. The Aggies fans made noise on social media and message board websites, which was in addition to the normal banter (and, let’s be honest, criticism and joke-making) from folks in other fanbases around the SEC and the state of Texas.

Within a few short hours, Stoops and A&M were one of, if not the biggest talking point around the sport of college football to close the night.

At 12:16 a.m. ET on Sunday morning, Kentucky Sports Radio’s Matt Jones reported that Stoops would be staying in Lexington.

I am told by a very good source that Mark Stoops is staying at Kentucky,” Jones tweeted out on Sunday morning, which has received more than four million views in the 13 hours since it was posted.

The report was later confirmed by TexAgs’ Billy Liucci, ESPN’s Pete Thamel, and The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman, but none was as cementing as Mark Stoops directly taking to Twitter himself to address the chaos that was unfolding.

“I know there’s been much speculation about me and my job situation the last couple of days,” Mark Stoops tweeted out at 1:02 a.m. ET on Sunday morning. “It’s true I was contacted about a potential opportunity this weekend, but after celebrating a big win against our rivals with players I love like family, I knew in my heart I couldn’t leave the University of Kentucky right now. I have a great job at a place I love, and I get to work with the best administration and greatest fan base in college football right where I’m at. I’m excited to say I’m a Wildcat!”

Matt Jones also reported on Sunday morning that “Mark Stoops was not given a raise or any incentives to stay at Kentucky.

It’s reasonable to imply that Texas A&M backed out of the deal based on backlash externally, and potentially internally, once the reports started to come out originally. But it’s also reasonable to say that the hiring not happening is probably best for both sides. Kentucky doesn’t have to rebuild while Texas A&M continues its search.

Mark Stoops has a 73-64 career record at Kentucky over an 11-year stretch. Stoops’ Wildcats hit the 10-win mark in two seasons (2018, 2021) but have also had four seven-win seasons.

While it looks like Mark Stoops is staying in Lexington, the Texas A&M coaching search will continue.

See? Hardly a dull day.

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