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From the Pressbox: Couch talks Stoops hire

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Tim Couch was at helm of some of the most productive offenses in Kentucky football history. But when Mitch Barnhart reached out to "The Deuce" for counsel on the search for the Cats' next football coach, the UK Athletics Director found an ally in the desire to find a coach who had expertise on the defensive side of the ball.

"When I was here, we put up a lot of points but we had a tough time stopping people. In this conference, you have to be able to stop people. If you look at the jobs that are open in the SEC, those are the four worst defenses in the conference," Couch noted on "The Leach Report" radio show yesterday.

Couch, however, is still an "Air Raid" proponent. And he remembers that Stoops' older brother Bob plucked offensive coordinator Mike Leach off the UK staff in 1998 when Stoops landed the head coaching job at Oklahoma. Another Stoops brother, Mike, followed that script when he landed the head coaching job at Arizona and he hired Sonny Dykes (another one-time Mumme assistant) to run his offense. Clearly, the Stoops brothers realized the need to marry their defensive acumen with an aggressive, attacking, high-scoring offense style and Mark Stoops plans to look for that kind of offensive coordinator.

"It's been proven that it's a good fit, that kind of offense with the defensive schemes that coach Stoops has and his brothers  have," Couch said. "At Oklahoma, they're still running that type of offense that Coach Leach brought in there years ago and they've been successful with it for a long time. I think that would be a great combination for us at Kentucky. The thing I love about that offense is that it gives you a chance every week (to compete against more talented teams). They're running the same thing at Texas A&M right now, so it's been proven to succeed in this league."

Like other Kentucky football fans, Couch really liked the idea that Stoops made the first move on the UK job, calling Barnhart to express interest in the position before Barnhart had called him.

"That was huge for me," Couch acknowledged. "When I came into this thing, I thought we would have to sell a lot of coaches on this program. But it was the exact opposite.  And it was certainly exciting to hear the passion and the vision for this program."

And Stoops came into his meetings with Barnhart, Couch and other UK officials with a clear outline of his plan for elevating the Wildcats' program.

"I think he has a nice recruiting plan, number one. His ties to Youngstown, Ohio; that (the state of Ohio) is an area we can hit harder. And his plan on defense, switching from the 3-4 to the 4-3 and simplifying things (is good). He had a plan for everything - how they were going to train and eat, the discipline -  just everything we had a question about, Mark had the perfect answer," explained Couch. "He's been preparing for this for a long time and he's ready."

Stoops inherits a UK program that won only two games this season but Couch doesn't discount the chance for a quick turnaround in the Cats' gridiron fortunes.

"We were the worst offense in the country in my freshmen year and Hal Mumme and Mike Leach came in, we switched schemes and we were the best offense in the country with the same players. I think it can be an improvement. I'm not saying we're going to win seven or eight games our first year but I think there will be improvement and I think in year two, year three and year four, we'll see steady improvement," Couch said. "I hope everyone is patient because this is a rebuilding process but I think there will be some improvement in year one."

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