Stoops says there is ‘comfort level’ having Liam Coen back as OC

Published 3:30 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2023

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Mark Stoops had to wait until the Los Angeles Rams’ season ended before he could officially hire Liam Coen to bring him back to Kentucky as offensive coordinator about a month after he fired Rich Scangarello. But Stoops is even more convinced now that it was the right move than he was when he hired Coen.

“Even though I have to wait through the pro season, it is still sooner than it was a year ago. That helped and he is familiar with it. The players, many of the players have been through it with him and know him personally,” Coen said.

“Even the recruits, even if they didn’t play under him, knew him through that year of recruiting prior to that. So, I think the familiarity definitely helps.”

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Stoops said when spring practice started last week that there was a “definite comfort level” with Coen back at UK like he was for the 10-win season in 2021.

“It’s almost like he never left. He has that type of personality where he is always in the staff room. It’s always an open door. I mean, he’s never in his office,” Stoops said. “He sits in the staff room; those guys always in there collaborating, talking, and watching film. Players are in and out of there, and that’s a good environment. It’s fun.”

The Rams won the Super Bowl after Coen left to become UK’s offensive coordinator in 2021. When Coen returned to LA as offensive coordinator, the Rams did not make the playoffs. Stoops said “scars” from that experience could make Coen an even better coach.

“I mean, equate it for myself as a defensive-back coach, getting burned in certain coverages and things that you learn from all those years of getting burned. You coach the secondary long enough, or any position, you learn from mistakes, and you better learn from mistakes and try not let them happen again,” Stoops said.

“For him, I think just dealing with that type of pressure and stress, trying to find solutions, trying to find answers. In that league and with the injuries they have, it does nothing but help you and help you grow.”