Mark Stoops’ staff received an unexpected shakeup on Tuesday when Steve Clinkscale departed the program to join Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan. An exceptional recruiter that developed UK’s pass defense into one of the best in the SEC, finding a suitable replacement will be difficult for a few reasons, but there are some interesting potential candidates.
Finding a quality assistant football coach in mid-May will not be easy. The coaching carousel slowed to a crawl long ago. Stoops is no stranger to these coaching searches, with a couple dozen already under his belt, but most of the recent additions to the staff happened early in the football calendar.
— John Settle, hired 3/12
— Jovon Bouknight, hired 3/10
— Frank Buffano, hired 3/18
— Jon Sumrall, hired 2/19
— Brad White, hired 2/1
Stoops has found his recent staffers in the middle of spring practice at the latest. The college football season is just 114 days away. Most coaches are comfortable with their surroundings, content to enjoy a few weeks off in mid-May. Tasked to find a replacement before the recruiting floodgates reopen in June, Kentucky’s head coach must act fast. That’s why he’s paid the big bucks.
Promote from Within
The simplest solution to an untimely departure is to promote from within. Stoops promoted Brad White to defensive coordinator following Matt House’s exit and most recently elevated Frank Buffano from director of operations to safeties coach. He could make a similar move this time around by promoting Greg Manusky.
Praised by Stoops throughout the 2020 season as a quality control analyst, Manusky spent two decades coaching in the NFL, often serving as a defensive coordinator. Manusky’s extensive resume makes him more than qualified to take on a bigger role, but without any recruiting experience he may be best served remaining in his role as an analyst.
Put in a pinch, Stoops will most likely turn to someone he’s previously worked with to fill the void left by Clinkscale.
Jonathan Cooley was a graduate assistant at UK in 2015 and 2016, working with Stoops and Clinkscale in the secondary before he began his ascension up the coaching ladder. He started in the FCS ranks at Chattanooga, then took his talents to two MAC schools, Kent State and Akron. Last season he joined the L.A. Rams as a defensive assistant.
John Jancek is a journeyman with defensive coordinating experience in the SEC. A part of Butch Jones’ staff at Cincinnati, he followed the Champion of Life to Knoxville where he spent three seasons. After one year in South Florida, Jancek served as a consultant for Stoops’ staff in 2017, parlaying that into another defensive coordinator position with Mike Bobo at Colorado State. Currently an analyst for Kirby Smart, Jancek has coached about every position on defense and he has recruiting ties to Florida and Georgia.
There are a few other names floating around, like Pitt’s Archie Collins and Miami’s Travaris Robinson, the latter of which seems like a pipe dream. The reality is that the situation calls for Stoops to think outside of the box, likely resulting in a hire that no one expects. Nevertheless, Adam Luckett and I discussed the potential options and all of the challenges this hire presents in great detail on the latest edition of 11 Personnel. Subscribe and listen today.