Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Kentucky Football Coaching Carousel

Kentucky Football Coaching Carousel

Tracking the Comings and Goings

College football fans spend most of the off-season tracking the transfer portal to see who’s going where. However, there’s almost as much action with coaches moving constantly. For the Kentucky Wildcats, it’s no exception as Mark Stoops has made several changes to his staff. In fact, one of them came as quite a surprise. Let’s break it down with the Kentucky Football Coaching Carousel.

New Man Running the Offense

For the fifth time in as many years, Stoops found himself looking for a new offensive coordinator. He found his man in Bush Hamdan, who comes to Lexington from Boise State. Hamdan replaces Liam Coen, who went back to the NFL after another one and done stint at Kentucky.

Hamdan, who much like Johnny Cash, has been everywhere since starting his coaching career in 2009. Lexington is his 11th different college job and that doesn’t include one year with the Atlanta Falcons in 2017.

Wherever he’s been his offenses have been strong on the ground. In addition, he likes using a no-huddle which should help with the speed of play. Of course, Kentucky was last in college football in plays run. Incoming quarterback Brock Vandagriff has to like that idea.

Hamdan’s contract is for 1.25 million this year, 1.35 in 2025, and 1.45 in 2026. However, if he leaves before November 30, 2025, he must pay the school 1.5 million. The Big Blue Nation hopes Hamdan and Stoops will have a great relationship going forward as the school faces the new look SEC.

Speaking of Coen not only did he leave but took a member of the staff with him. Brian Picucci, who was a senior analyst at Kentucky, is the new assistant offensive line coach at Tampa Bay. Finally in what can only be described as weird Coen went on a Twitter blocking spree for many members of the Kentucky sports media. So far it hasn’t happened to yours truly, but it’s probably just a matter of time.

Speaking of the offensive line as we continue looking at the Kentucky Football Coaching Carousel let’s look at the new (old) coach heading the Big Blue Wall.

A Surprising Return

Not even two months after signing a contract extension UK made a change on the offensive line. Zach Yenser was let go and his replacement came as quite a surprise to the Big Blue Nation. Eric Wolford, who held the position in 2021, returned to Lexington.

The reason for the surprise is the way the Youngstown native left. To quote the Bruce Springsteen classic “Hungry Heart” he went out for a ride and he never went back. Under the guise of recruiting for the Wildcats Wolford suddenly took a job with Nick Saban and Alabama. Now he was attempting to get those same guys to Tuscaloosa. Throw in the fact he never returned to Lexington to inform Stoops or his players he was leaving.

Mending Fences

When Kalen DeBoer left Washington for Alabama Wolford was not retained becoming a free agent. Despite the bad feelings over the way he left Stoops reached out to his former assistant and a return was set into motion. Stoops says he’s grown and learned quite a bit since then.

During Yenser’s first season as offensive line coach in 2022, Kentucky ranked 126th of 131 teams nationally in sacks allowed. That unit did post improvement last season, only giving up 22 sacks in 13 games, but the run blocking struggled along with a penchant for getting penalized.

Wolford, who spent five seasons as the head coach at Youngstown State from 2010 to 2014, helped Kentucky to a 10-3 record in 2021 by coaching an offensive line that included two NFL draft picks in center Luke Fortner and tackle Darian Kinnard. In just one year on UK’s staff, he made a recruiting impact as well, serving as one of the lead recruiters for star defensive lineman Deone Walker. Wolford also has a clause in his contract if he leaves for another job. His deal is only for two years but would owe UK 500,000 per year if he left Lexington early.

Continuing with our Kentucky Football Coaching Carousel let’s look at one more addition to the offense.

Improving the Receivers

Right before the bowl game against Clemson Stoops made a change in the wide receivers coach. Scott Woodward, a close friend of Coen, was let go and in his place hired Daikiel Shorts. The former West Virginia standout had been on Dana Holgerson’s staff at Houston for the last five years. The first two he was Director Of Player Personnel and from 2021 through last year he coached the wide receivers. During the Cougars’ first season in the Big 12 Shorts’ receiving group made an instant impact. According to Pro Football Focus, five of the league’s Top 11 graded underclassmen wide receivers came from Houston including three of the top seven.

Last year Kentucky’s talented wide receiver duo Barion Brown and Dane Key suffered a bit of a sophomore slump, though they played better at the end of the year. Overall the group was plagued by dropped passes and never seemed to be in sync with quarterback Devin Leary. Shorts will be the sixth wide receivers coach in Stoops’s twelve seasons.

Thanks for checking out the Kentucky Football Coaching Carousel here at Last Word On College Football. Next time out we’ll look at who the Wildcats brought in during the February recruiting cycle.


Kentucky Football Coaching Carousel
Photo courtesy: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports



More Posts

Send Us A Message