Skip to main content

Mark Stoops Talks Coaching Changes, Transfer Portal, Will Levis as Offseason Nears

Changes have begun in Lexington...don't expect them to stop anytime soon.

It took just two days after the end of the regular season for changes to hit the Kentucky football program. 

On Monday afternoon, a pair of wide receivers in Chauncey Magwood and DeMarcus Harris were announced as the first couple of Wildcats to enter the transfer portal. Around the time of those announcements, it was revealed that running backs coach and special teams coordinator John Settle had been fired after just two years in Lexington. 

Those are just the first of what's expected to be many dominoes to fall over the course of the next few weeks. Head coach Mark Stoops touched on much of what's to come for the Wildcats on his call-in radio show on Monday evening. 

“Had many meetings today and I’m very encouraged, very optimistic," he said. "It was a very good Sunday of work yesterday and a good day today. Feel very good about the core of our team, their response and their commitment to each other. It’s going very good and I’m very excited about the future.”

It's been reported that multiple coaching staff changes were expected at some point over the course of the offseason. Settle was the first casualty, but there's very clearly a bigger name thats thought to potentially be on the table moving forward — offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello. 

Kentucky's disappointing offense took a toll over the course of the year. Following the shocking loss to Vanderbilt in week 11, Stoops was asked about the potential of making in-season coaching changes, to which he responded no. 

So, the thought of Stoops searching for a fourth OC in as many seasons is certainly a possibility. It just won't be officially announced any time soon:

“I’m working through it. I have great respect for our coaches and the work that they put in," Stoops said. "It’s entertainment to a lot of folks, but it’s real life to us. I have great respect for all of our staff so I just want to hold that tight for a moment. I’m not prepared to release any information on that at this point.” 

As for transfer portal talk, Stoops hinted at looking for help in a certain position that clearly lacked this season — the offensive line: 

“Bottom line, simple answer, are we looking for a little bit of help in the portal at offensive line? Yes.” 

That group allowed 42 sacks in 2022, the seventh-worst mark in the nation. A mixture of position transition, lack of continuity and overall disappointment pointed toward the biggest weakness on the roster. While four of five starters this season could possibly return for next year, there's very clearly some help that could be used to mend the holes in the Big Blue Wall. 

Pivoting over to the postseason , Stoops made it clear that he had no preference when it come to Kentucky's opponent as it looks for its fifth consecutive bowl victory: 

“As far as an opponent, it really doesn’t matter, you know? I’ve always taken the approach of whatever’s in front of us, we’re gonna embrace that challenge and go attack it." 

Scroll to Continue

Read More

As for having a full roster when that bowl game comes along, that still remains to be seen. Both quarterback Will Levis and Chris Rodriguez did not commit to playing the final game of the season following the Governor's Cup win over Louisville last Saturday. 

Levis said he was going to go over his options with his head coach and his family as he reaches a final decision. Those conversations has since happened, and Stoops provided a tiny bit of insight on the matter, though no official decision is yet to be publicly announced:

“He and I had another great talk today and it was really good to see. I saw him yesterday as well, he had a bunch of family in town, they were up in the building and I got a chance to see his parents and his grandparents, just spent some time together. Then today, he and I had a talk and we’ll keep that between us for right now. He’s just mentally and physically exhausted and beat up right now. He needs a little bit of time to heal and think about what he needs to do."

Stoops continued:

“I told him the same thing I told Josh Allen back in the day. In the same way, his legacy is set. I’m quite sure all of our listeners, you, me and everybody who’s listening to this is appreciative of what he’s done and how hard he’s played, what he’s done for us. If that was his last game, then none of us will think any different because he is a tough human being, a tough guy, laid it on the line for his team." 

It's expected that Levis' decision will come in the very near future. 

Changes will continue to come in Lexington as the Wildcats attempt to adjust to the new world of college football. 

Game recap of Kentucky's win over Louisville can be found here.

More on Matt Ruffolo's historic night here.

Barion Brown Denies Transfer Rumors here.

Watch: Stoops, Levis and more talk Governor's Cup win over Cardinals

Game Notes from the victory can be found here.

Want the latest on national football and basketball recruiting, including Cats targets? Head over to SI All-American for the latest news, blogs, and updates about the nation's best prospects.

Sports Illustrated also offers insight, information and up to the minute details for gamblers. Check it out here.