Texas A&M coaching search: Kentucky's Mark Stoops emerges as top target for Aggies, per reports

Texas A&M has tapped Mark Stoops as a top target to lead the Aggies football program, according to multiple reports. The two sides are reportedly deep in discussions to make the hiring official, though no deal has been finalized, according to The Athletic. 

Stoops, 56, took over a moribund Kentucky team in 2013, eventually guiding the Wildcats to a bowl game appearance in his fourth season. Since 2018, Stoops has quietly transformed into one of the top coaches in the SEC. He has a 47-28 record over the past six years with four bowl wins over the past five seasons. Kentucky has won 10 games twice over that period, which matches the same number that Texas A&M has since 1998. Prior to Stoops’s arrival, the Wildcats had not won 10 games since 1977. 

Stoops would replace Jimbo Fisher, who was fired after six seasons with the Aggies. Fisher was hailed as a savior when he was hired away from Florida State; the school gifted Fisher a blank national championship plaque to set the expectation of his tenure. After a lackluster 6-4 start to the 2023 season, however, Texas A&M brass had decided it was time for the marriage to end. Fisher is owed more than $70 million in buyout funds, tripling the next-highest buyout in college football history. 

In contrast to Fisher, Stoops is known as a solid developer and talent identifier. He came to Kentucky after a successful stint as defensive coordinator at Florida State — ironically, under Fisher. Stoops is the brother of former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and former Arizona coach Mike Stoops. Mark worked under Mike as defensive coordinator with the Wildcats from 2004-09. 

Texas A&M zeroing in on Stoops comes amid a critical time for the program. The Aggies reeled in the No. 1 recruiting class of all time in 2022 and the lion’s share will be juniors in 2024. Texas A&M ranks No. 4 in the 247Sports Team Talent Composite, trailing only Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State. Keeping the roster together and maximizing the 2024 season will be top of mind as Stoops should he take over in College Station, Texas. 

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