Kentucky's Mark Stoops signs contract extension through 2019

It's almost the season of firings and hirings for college football coaches.

And as such, the time is now to extend the contracts of successful coaches who could be targeted in the winter turnover phase. Kentucky did just that Friday, extending coach Mark Stoops' contract through the 2019 season.

"Mark is guiding our program in the direction we all want it to go, and we are proud to reward that," athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a school release. "I was confident Mark was right for this job when I hired him, but he has exceeded my expectations."

The extension adds only a year to Stoops' contract but includes a stout raise. He'll earn $3.25 million next season, with his pay escalating year to year, to $4.25 million in 2019, according to courier-journal.com. Under his previous contract, Stoops had been scheduled to earn $2.1 million this year and $2.65 million in 2018.

While the extension doesn't necessarily prevent another school from luring Stoops, it's a strong sign Kentucky believes it has found the right coach and is willing to do what it takes to keep him content in Lexington, Ky.

Stoops has led significant improvement for the Wildcats (5-3) this season. Kentucky beat South Carolina earlier this month for only the second time in the last 15 years. Stoops has an emerging star in quarterback Patrick Towles and has also begun to make recruiting inroads that his predecessors were unable to forge.

Kentucky plays at Missouri on Saturday, and with a win, would even its SEC record at 3-3.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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