Being the college football coach at the University of Kentucky is a fantastic gig. No really, think about it.
While the guys in Baton Rouge, Tuscaloosa, and Athens are sweating what will happen if they only win ten games this season, you’ve get a statue on campus if you do it. If you ever won an SEC East title they’d probably just hand you the keys to Keeneland. “It’s yours, buddy. You earned it.”
If the basketball team is a national title contender no one even notices you losing to Vanderbilt. If the basketball team just lost to Ole Miss everyone in Lexington is too angry about it to care if you lost to Berea College.
Speaking of Lexington, it’s a grossly underrated college town situated among rolling green hills. People there let the UK football coach eat a steak with his family in peace. And Mark Stoops loovvveesss that about it. It is the quintessential unassuming lair for the world’s most unassuming college football coach. Lexington’s no Athens or Chapel Hill, but its a dang sight prettier than, I don’t know, Youngstown.
Not coincidentally, Youngstown happens to be the ancestral home of Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops, not to mention his more famous football coaching brothers: Bob, Mike, Sleepy, Bashful, Grumpy, and Dopey.
Scratch that. “Grumpy Stoops” is actually fellow Youngstown native, former Notre Dame head coach, and shoegaze DJ Bob Davie. But then Mark Stoops is probably used to not being the most famous person in his family, much less his hometown. Don’t believe me? Feast your eyes on this, the Exhaustive List of People from Youngstown, Ohio More Famous Than Mark Stoops.
- Actor Ed O’Neill. That’s right, Al Bundy himself actually matriculated down the field as a star player at Youngstown’s Worthington High rather than Polk High, winning a state championship and earning a football scholarship to Ohio University.
- Robert and Ronald Bell, founding members of Kool & The Gang. Mark Stoops, by contrast, has never been accused of being cool and never ran with any gang. Unless you count the Northside Gangsta Webelos Scouts.
- Former San Francisco Giants pitcher Brad Hennessey. Mark Stoops finds the name “Brad” overly self-confident, and tried Hennessey only once because it made his ears itch.
- Thomas Bopp, amateur astronomer noteworthy for discovering the Hale Bopp comet. At the time Bopp was employed at a construction materials company and actually made the discovery using a telescope he borrowed from someone else. That’s eastern Ohio as hell, friends.
- O.A.R. saxophonist Jerry DePizzo. Like Mark Stoops he’s made a career out of disappointing people who couldn’t pick him out of a lineup. Saxophonist for O.A.R. is definitely the Kentucky head football coach of rock n’ roll gigs.
- Television producer Michael Trikilis. Trikilis was the creative mind behind Hugh Hefner’s launch of Playboy TV in the early 80’s. For some reason he’s not on the Youngstown Chamber of Commerce Wall of Fame. But then, neither is Mark Stoops.
- Albert, Harry, Jack, and Sam Warner. The four brothers grew up on Youngstown’s northside before founding their namesake entertainment conglomerate, Warner Bros. in 1923. None of their descendants plans to make, finance, or otherwise acknowledge my script for The Mark Stoops Story, not that I’m bitter.
- Bob Stoops. Basically Mark Stoops, except forced to live in Norman, Oklahoma during the summer and get yelled at for losing to Texas. What a sucker.
If I left off any other famous Youngstownians please feel free to drop their names and accomplishments in the comments. Until later...