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In a surprising twist, Mark Stoops will not become Texas A&M’s next head coach

UPDATE: Despite previous reports, Mark Stoops won’t be the next coach of the Texas A&M Aggies.

Stoops will return to Kentucky for the 2024 season and it remains possible the interest from Texas A&M could land him another contract extension. One thing is clear, the Aggies’ coaching search continues.

While the hire was never official, the multiple reports out of Texas A&M that Stoops was the guy now feels like a trial balloon by the athletic department and boosters to get a feel on the fan base’s reaction to hiring Stoops. It would be reminiscent of what happened to Greg Schiano with the University of Tennessee in 2017.

The Volunteers were poised to hire Schiano as their next football coach, with reports leaking out to the media. It was met with a strong backlash from the fan base, resulting in Tennessee not going through with the process.

While the Aggies’ coaching search is ongoing, interim coach Elijah Robinson now seems to be emerging as a strong candidate to replace Jimbo Fisher as full-time coach.

Previous Report

The Texas A&M Aggies have reportedly hired Mark Stoops as their new head coach, tabbing the Kentucky Wildcats coach to replace Jimbo Fisher in 2024.

Fisher, who received the highest buyout in NCAA history was fired in November by Texas A&M. Since taking over as the leader of the Aggies’ football program, Fisher could only guide the team to a 46-25 record .648) in six years, a worse mark than former head coach Kevin Sumlin.

Related: Highest college football coaches buyouts

  • Mark Stoops coaching record: 72-64, 4-3 in bowl games

The Aggies failed to meet expectations despite unprecedented investments by boosters into the football program. While Texas A&M has one of the most lucrative NIL systems in the country and pulled in some of the nation’s top recruiting classes, a lack of player development and bad schematic fits led to perennial disappointment with several of those players hitting the transfer portal.

Now, with the college football coaching carousel warming up, Texas A&M has found its new football coach.

247 Sports’ Jeff Tarpley first reported the news. Rivals has also confirmed the report, with Stoops officially poised to replace Fisher as the Aggies’ football coach. The hire by Texas A&M comes just hours after Michigan State hired Jonathan Smith to replace Mel Tucker.

The Texas A&M coaching search reportedly came down to Stoops, UTSA coach Jeff Traylor, Arizona Wildcats coach Jedd Fisch and Duke Blue Devils coach Mike Elko. While Elko was once viewed as the favorite to take over the Aggies’ football program, Texas A&M ultimately passed on its former defensive coordinator in favor of Stoops.

Stoops, age 56, started his coaching career in 1990 as a graduate assistant with the Iowa Hawkeyes. He slowly climbed the coaching ladder, becoming Arizona’s defensive coordinator (2004-’29) and then serving as the Florida State Seminoles defensive coordinator.

The defensive-minded coach took over at Kentucky in 2013. It was his first head-coaching gig, taking over a Wildcats’ football program that went 13-24 under Joker Phillips and 39-47 from 2003-’09 with Rich Brooks.

Stoops won just seven combined games in his first two seasons and 12 total in three years. However, the Wildcats went 7-6 in 2016 and ’17, followed by a 10-3 season with a Citrus Bowl victory in 2018. Kentucky had two double-digit win seasons (2018, 2021) with Stoops, with Stoops accounting for two of the Wildcats’ four seasons with double-digit wins in program history.

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