HOOVER – Kentucky coach Mark Stoops had no idea the call was coming.

His older brother Bob Stoops called to let him know that he was going to be stepping down from his longtime position as head football coach at Oklahoma. Bob Stoops announced his retirement unexpectedly in early June.

Mark Stoops said he left his office and walked around the practice field to take the call.
“It was a bit of a shock to me to be honest with you,” UK’s coach said Wednesday at SEC Media Days. “Mixed emotions, I guess you would say, from myself.

“Very proud of him, what he’s done, and very happy for him and (wife) Carol and his family, to be able to step away when he wants, how he wants.”

Special number

Missouri’s No. 25 jersey is reserved to honor Aaron O’Neil, a linebacker who died in 2005. Jamal Brooks, a freshman linebacker from Bessemer, was chosen to wear the number this season.

“The first year, it rotated between seniors on who wore it,” Missouri coach Barry Odom said. “And since then, it’s been designated to one player.

“We got into the cycle that it always ended up kind of just being a senior, and as a staff we looked at it and said it would be nice to establish tradition and put it on a guy that’s going to have it in his entire career.

“We’ve had the conversation (with Brooks) that means a great deal to him to wear that in the right way.”

Stop the run

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin knows the Aggies have to get tougher up front defensively to improve, and has delivered that message to defensive coordinator John Chavis.

“We have got to be a better run defense,” he declared. “It’s not just John Chavis. It’s across the board. It’s everybody.”

A&M ranked eighth in the SEC in run defense last season, allowing 191.2 yards per game and 4.4 yards per carry.

Hot seat?

Sumlin was also asked about his job security in light of comments made by Scott Woodward, A&M athletics director, at SEC Spring Meetings at the end of May. Woodward said Sumlin “knows he has to win and he has to win this year.”

The coach says the pressure from his boss doesn’t supersede the internal pressure to win.
“The pressure I’m feeling is the same pressure I feel all of the time,” Sumlin said. “And so nobody puts more pressure on me than me.”