Asked a couple of times this week if he had ever faced a No. 1-ranked team as a head coach, as he will do Saturday against Alabama, Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops said he couldn’t remember, but figured that he had.
He was right. In his coaching career, Stoops has coached against a No. 1 team three times and is still looking for his first win.
As defensive coordinator at Arizona under his brother Mike, Stoops team lost to No. 1-ranked Southern Cal 49-9 in Los Angeles on November 13, 2004. Matt Leinart completed 27 of 35 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns in the USC win.
Dwayne Jarret caught six passes for 144 yards as the Trojans turned a 14-3 halftime lead into an easy win.
That Southern Cal team finished the year 13-0, beating Mark’s brother Bob and Oklahoma 55-19 in the Orange Bowl for the BCS title.
With Mark Stoops on staff, Arizona played a top-ranked Southern Cal in Los Angeles again the following year and trailed just 28-21 after three quarters before losing 42-21 to the Trojans.
Southern Cal ended up gaining 724 yards as LenDale White rushed for 179 yards on 24 carries and Reggie Bush gained 110 yards on 14 attempts. Leinart completed 26 of 40 passes for 360 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
USC finished that year 12-1, losing to Vince Young and Texas 41-38 in the Rose Bowl in the BCS title game.
Then as defensive coordinator at Florida State, Mark Stoops faced his brother Bob and No. 1-ranked Oklahoma in Tallahassee on September 17, 2011. Oklahoma came away with a 23-13 win, which for FSU was an improvement from the previous season when the Sooners rolled Mark and the Seminoles 47-17 in Norman.
Stoops pointed out Tuesday that during his days as a defensive backs coach at Miami he was part of a team that was often ranked No. 1 itself.
In 2001, Stoops’ first year at Miami, the Hurricanes were No. 1 for 13 weeks and beat Nebraska 37-14 in the Rose Bowl to win the national title for head coach Larry Coker.
In 2002, with Stoops still on staff, Miami was No. 1 for 15 weeks but lost to Ohio State 34-31 in two overtimes in the Fiesta Bowl in the national championship game.
There are some interesting connections from those Miami staffs, especially the 2001 staff that won the national title.
An assistant at Houston in 2000 and previously an assistant at Wyoming for three years (1997-99), Stoops was hired at Miami by Coker to replace defensive backs coach Chuck Pagano, who had followed former Miami head coach Butch Davis to the Cleveland Browns. Pagano is now the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.
The offensive coordinator on that 2001 Miami national championship staff was Rob Chudzinski, now the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Randy Shannon, the former Miami head coach from 2007 to 2010 and current linebackers coach at Arkansas under Bret Bielema, was the defensive coordinator.
Dan Werner, now co-offensive coordinator at Ole Miss under Hugh Freeze, was the quarterbacks coach. Vernon Hargreaves, the father of current Florida defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III and currently an assistant at Houston, was Miami’s linebackers coach.
Photos of Reggie Bush at USC, Mark Stoops at Florida State and Rob Chudzinski all by AP.