Kentucky football is riding high since Mark Stoops was named head coach last year.
Recruiting is skyrocketing, Commonwealth Stadium is finally getting upgrades,UK is marketing football at a higher level and big-money donors are starting to look at football. And even with all of this going on, some folks find a way to be negative. Some simply don’t like UK football, others just can’t believe yet. But the mantra has become that with any success, Stoops and his staff will be gone before you can say paycheck.
This stance reads as not being thought out or just as part of a defeatist attitude that has permeated the program for decades. Or again, they could simply be haters. Look, it’s no secret that Kentucky isn’t a destination coaching job. Mainly due to lack of university support , local talent base, and winning tradition. But if Stoops has enough success to have other programs sniffing around, then those things have changed .UK is already supporting football at previously unseen levels. The staff has adjusted the “local” talent base to include Ohio. And if Stoops is in position to get a “better” job, then that means he must have won some games at Kentucky.
Here is the way to look at it. Why can’t Kentucky be a good job? If Stoops wins enough in Lexington to have other programs trying to poach him, what job would be so much better that he would just jump on it? Remember that this scenario is based on the presumption of success and winning seasons by the staff. Kentucky is already in the best conference in the country. You can’t move to a more prestigious conference at this point. So you narrow it down to other SEC teams now. With the new SEC Network money coming in,Kentucky will be able to pay a coach as much as any other team in the league. So with that out of the way, you move to support. The university is all in. The fans are already all in, if you add a couple of winning seasons they will explode. Very few teams have fans like the Big Blue Nation, especially when UK is winning. So what is left? Tradition? That’s the one thing that Kentucky doesn’t offer, but honestly if Stoops wanted that he would have never sought out this job.
So we have more or less placed a winning Kentucky program on par with any college job that would come up. So maybe people think Stoops will leave for the NFL?UKsurely can’t pay the same kind of salary that the pros do. Obviously the prestige factor is above any college. So …maybe. But think of this. This staff is made up of a bunch of career college coaches. The only guy with NFL experience is Vince Marrow. These guys are all great recruiters, who enjoy working with young players. So by moving to the league, they lose a big piece of their value. The NFL is a different animal and it isn’t for everyone. Maybe it’s for Stoops and maybe it isn’t.
At the end of the day, we don’t know what is going to happen with Stoops. But if he can have enough success to be sought after, that means he is leaving UK football in a much better place than where he found it. It goes without saying that the team talent level will be up. Fans will be excited. Donors will have interest in giving money. So don’t focus on the negative, there is always a silver lining.