It's now official that Mark Stoops will become the head coach of the University of Kentucky after the Seminoles play Georgia Tech in this weekend's ACC Championship game. That news came out this morning and tonight we got the opportunity to talk to Jimbo Fisher as well as Lamarcus Joyner and Bjoern Werner, two of the leaders of the defense.
"I'm very proud of him, very happy for him," said Fisher in the rain after practice tonight. "He got an opportunity to move on and further his career and that's something he wants to do and I'm happy for him and elated for him and I like I said I think those are things that are very indicative of the players we have and the way that he's coached and our program that people want to hire our coaches."
Fisher said he was apprised of the situation in the morning and then they told the players shortly afterward.
"I want guys to do that," said Fisher. "Like I said I wanted Mark to stay for a long time until he got what he wanted to do and he got what he wanted to do."
For Fisher, life just got complicated though. The timing isn't ideal on a Tuesday during preparation for a conference title game, but it is what it is. Now Fisher has to juggle finding a replacement, contacting and assuring recruits from this year's class and preparing a team to try to win its first conference championship in seven years.
I also wouldn't expect Stoops to coach the bowl game. It's likely Greg Hudson will take over interim duties while Stoops moves along to start his new job. Florida State doesn't let media talk to assistants, the first availability Stoops will have is Sunday morning Lexington. Have you ever seen a guy go to a school, get introduced as a head coach and then turn around and go back to being an assistant for another month? No.
If Brian Kelly didn't coach Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl to take another head coaching job, I really don't see Stoops coordinating in the Orange Bowl.
When we spoke to the players they didn't seem too caught off guard.
"I was more happy for Coach Stoops than anything," said Lamarcus Joyner. "He's a coach that put in work and after he explained it's what's best for him and his family and it will set him up then that's a blessing for him, he's a great man and he deserves it."
Joyner and Bjoer Werner were informed before the rest of the team. Stoops pulled Joyner aside personally, the two share an extremely close relationships and Stoops has acted as a mentor to Joyner at times. Werner found out at Unity council.
"We're happy for coach Stoops, everyone knew he wanted a head coaching job and it's going to be Kentucky and everyone was happy for him," said Werner. "Nobody was sad that he's leaving, everybody has to look out for themselves at some time and he did everything he could have done [while he was here]."
One thing that both players said would make Stoops successful, that worked with them at FSU, is that Stoops treats his players like adults. Just listening to both of them talk about the move, they had mature and realistic perspectives that sounded more like Stoops had been honest with them along the way than they were caught off guard.
As Werner said, they're my coaches but they're people too. That's a healthy perspective and it should serve Stoops well in Lexington.
Both players also realize the relationship was symbiotic. They helped Stoops get his first head gig and he helped them towards realizing NFL potential.
"Him being a great coach and us being a few great players on that defense, we all get to eat from the situation," said Joyner. "He gets to move on to better blessings and so do a few guys from the defense so it's a blessing for a lot of people."