It was a celebration of UK football's bright future and it featured all the pomp and circumstance to be expected of such an event, but the press conference featured plenty of substance to go along with the bells and whistles.
Stoops laid out his vision for the program, while Mitch Barnhart detailed why he believed the new coach can get the job done. Sitting beside both was UK President Eli Capilouto with an important message of his own.
"With Coach Stoops joining the Big Blue Nation, we are demonstrating our commitment to football and our student athletes," Capilouto said. "We are committed to the long term in football."
The long term, of course, means maintaining and improving its facilities. Capilouto has put into place a plan designed to rebuild the entire UK campus. Football is a part of that plan.
"We are committed to investing in its success, which will ensure the financial success of the most comprehensive athletics program in the SEC, an athletics program that commits millions of dollars a year to academic scholarships and university programs," Capilouto said.
According to both Capilouto and Barnhart, more specifics will be announced in the near future.
"We've been working in concert with the university on facility plans on a lot of fronts," Barnhart said. "Dr. Capilouto and the trustees have been tremendous about working through all those details. Obviously as Dr. Capilouto referred to in his remarks, there are pieces of that that will have to appear at the legislative level. We want to do it in concert with what is best for the university."
That complete conversation, however, is for another day.
"Today underscores that commitment to student athletes and to our university," Capilouto said. "We are building upon a strong foundation and investing in long-term success in our football program. That success, in turn, means so much to the rest of our athletic program and to our university."
Ohio, Florida figure prominently in Stoops' recruiting plans
During the 40 minutes he spent in front of the Kentucky media for the first time, Stoops said some variation of the word "recruit" 11 times. Clearly, he understands how important attracting talent to Lexington will be in his success.
"We have to go out and recruit," Stoops said. "You have to recruit each and every day, each and every year, to keep on building your program."
Stoops is an Ohio native and has spent 21 of his 45 years living in the state. He has spent another seven years coaching in talent-rich Florida. For Barnhart, Stoops' ties to the two areas are major positives as he takes over. Stoops says Ohio and Florida will figure prominently in his plans.
"We're going to recruit Ohio very hard," Stoops said. "I have strong ties in Ohio. There's very good football players in Ohio. We'll work through the Carolinas, Florida, and Georgia a little bit."
UK's location dictates that he must go out of state to pursue SEC-level talent. But even though the Commonwealth might not produce as many players as other states, Stoops is adamant about recruiting Kentucky's top players to stay at home for college.
"It's our job to get out and work hard and to recruit and keep the great ones home, to take any player that could help us win, take them and develop them, mold them to be winning players for us," Stoops said. "I understand that, that there's not as many in this state as others, but there are some good ones, and it's our job to keep them home."
A look at Stoops' contract
This week, Stoops signed a five-year contract that expires Dec. 31, 2017. It will pay him approximately $11 million over the life of the deal with a base annual salary of $400,000 and media and endorsement income that climbs from $1.6 million the first year of the contract to $2 million the last.
Stoops will also have the opportunity to earn incentive compensation in the following ways:
- $100,000 each season UK wins five or more conference games
- $100,000 for each SEC win after UK's first of the season
- $100,000 for any season in which UK finishes first or tied for first in the SEC East
- $200,000 for any season in which UK wins the SEC title or plays in the Bowl Championship Series or its successor
- $200,000 for winning a national championship
- $50,000 for reaching a non-BCS bowl if bowl revenue is less than $2 million
- $125,000 for reaching a non-BCS bowl if bowl revenue exceeds $2 million
- $25,000 for each year the team GPA is 2.75 or better
- $25,000 for each year UK achieves a minimum Academic Progress Rate of 950
- $50,000 for each year in which Stoops wins SEC Coach of the Year award
- $75,000 for each year in which Stoops is named National Coach of the Year
Stoops not coaching FSU bowl game
With Florida State winning the ACC championship, the Seminoles will face Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl.
Stoops, however, will not be serving as his former school's defensive coordinator in the game. He dealt last week with trying to balance priorities and he doesn't want to attempt that again.
"I just think there's too much work to be done," Stoops said. "It's hard to be in two places at one time. This week alone was extremely challenging. We agreed on Monday evening, so it was a very long and stressful week for myself. To try to go through that again, I don't think it's right for either side."
Leaving won't be easy for Stoops, especially considering the clear affection between he and his players. Because of that, he is considering returning to Tallahassee, Fla., to assist in preparations.
"If I can go back and help around the dead time when the recruiting ends, there's some dead time, I may try to go back and help a little bit with game planning," Stoops said.
Make no mistake though, his new job comes first.
"I'm here," Stoops said. "I'm working for you now. I'm a part of the Big Blue Nation. That's where I want to be."