LEXINGTON, Ky. — Mark Stoops loves his Youngstown, Ohio, connections and former Nebraska coach Bo Pelini could be a real candidate for the vacant Kentucky defensive coordinator job after D.J. Eliot’s departure.
Eliot, who had long been by Stoops’ side, has taken a job at Colorado. A source told SEC Country that Kentucky is in no hurry to fill the vacant coordinator position as focus is on recruiting, but we took a look at three candidates for the job.
House is the clear candidate if Stoops decides to promote from within. The Kentucky special teams coordinator and inside linebackers coach was thought to be next in line behind Eliot and now he might get that chance.
House has defensive coordinator experience at Pittsburgh and Florida International. That experience might give Stoops enough confidence to hand the reins to House.
Another important factor is that Stoops took over defensive play calling duties in Week 3 after Kentucky gave up a combined 89 points in its first two games. Eliot ceded control and the defense improved as Stoops took a larger part in it. It would be easier for Stoops to maintain a similar amount of control by simply promoting someone who’s already on staff.
Pelini is the out-of-the-box candidate who also makes a lot of sense. Pelini guided Youngstown State to the FCS championship game in his second year at the helm. Youngstown, where the whole Stoops family is from plus Kentucky assistants Vince Marrow and Steve Clinkscale.
Pelini served as defensive coordinator at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops and then at LSU for three seasons. No one is knocking his defensive mind but Pelini’s ugly departure from Nebraska after seven seasons might not bode well for him.
Pelini might have hopes to go straight from Youngstown State to another FBS head coaching job, but Mark Stoops could at least want gauge his interest. Just imagine the memes.
Buh left as Kentucky’s outside linebackers coach before the 2016 season to become Maryland’s defensive coordinator. He was only at Kentucky for one season but had a good relationship with Stoops.
Buh had prior defensive coordinator experience at Cal and Nevada with other coaching stops at Wisconsin, Stanford and San Diego State.
Maryland ranked 77th in total defense in Buh’s first year as defensive coordinator but he’s a name to watch.