DESTIN, Fla. — The Stoops name still resonates when it comes to Ohio football. And first-year Kentucky coach Mark Stoops is taking advantage of it.
He already has six commitments from Ohio for his 2014 recruiting class.
“We grew up there in Youngstown,” Stoops said at the SEC spring meetings. “My father was a high school coach for many years in Ohio. My brother, Ron, coached high school football in Ohio.”
Ron Jr. is now an assistant coach at Youngstown State. He’s one of four Stoops brothers coaching college football.
Bob is the coach at Oklahoma, where his brother, Mike, is the defensive coordinator.
“People know our family roots are in Ohio,” Mark said. “And there are very good players in Ohio.
“With the proximity of the state, that was something I looked at right away with Kentucky — with Southern Ohio for sure.
“But with my connections in the northern part of the state, it just makes sense to recruit the whole state.”
Rebels On Move: Ole Miss was fourth in the SEC in first downs last season. That’s a big deal to coach Hugh Freeze.
“If we can maintain our tempo and make first downs, it’s very beneficial to us,” Freeze said. “If we’re making first downs, we’re keeping our defense off the field.
“That’s the stat I look at.”
He prefers that many of those first downs come on the run.
“We can’t just go out there and throw it and expect our defense to hold up,” he said.
Ole Miss ranked fifth in the conference in both rushing and passing in 2012.
All About Recruits: New Arkansas coach Bret Bielema sees media relations as just another recruiting tool.
“I wouldn’t agree to do this interview if I didn’t think it would help recruiting,” he said. “It allows us to get in front of our kids when we can’t reach out to them on a daily basis.”
Friendly Hire: When the Baltimore Ravens fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron last December, LSU coach Les Miles didn’t waste time contacting his longtime friend.
“As soon as I realized he was no longer employed, I immediately texted him, ‘Hey, I’m over here,’ ” Miles said. “When the NFL opportunities went by him, it worked out well (for LSU).”
In addition to heading up LSU’s offense, Cameron will be working with quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who ranked 13th in the SEC in pass efficiency last season.
Man With A Plan: Gus Malzahn is in an usual position as Auburn’s first-year head coach. He has a chance to help rebuild the same program twice in five years.
Malzahn was the offensive coordinator on Gene Chizik’s staff when the Tigers won the national title in 2010. After Chizik’s firing, he will be heading up the new rebuilding project.
It doesn’t sound as though he’s taking much from his former boss’ notebook.
“You’ve got to start over anytime you take over,” said Malzahn, who coached Arkansas State last season. “And you’ve got to have a plan.”