Forget the fact that Mark Stoops inherits a 2-10 team and has SIX teams in the The Sporting News Preseason Top 25 on his schedule. Apparently, Stoops has to face a literal coaching cult of personality as well. At least that is what Pat Forde thinks.
We can debate all week what Pat Forde finds intriguing, but he released a list of college football’s 25 most intriguing coaches and seven coaches on the UK schedule this year made the list. Not being a Kentucky homer, I would think the next member of the Stoops coaching having a top five recruiting class in the nation at a SEC school that went winless in the conference last year pretty damn intriguing myself. But we know that Forde is pretty much colorblind to anything blue so it’s par for the course.
It’s not a shock that Forde is intrigued by Chollie Strong, but it’s a surprise Strong was not #1 on his list. That honor went to Nick Saban. It is a downright shock that Strong was not the most intriguing coach in the Commonwealth. That honor went to Bobby Petrino who was finished at #5 while Strong was #9.
5. Bobby Petrino, Western Kentucky. From savant-level coach to scandal-ridden pariah, Petrino begins his career comeback well off the main stage. But look at the opportunity at his disposal: WKU opens with Kentucky and Tennessee – two schools that wanted no part of Petrino when hiring other coaches last winter. Upset a pair of SEC teams and Petrino may suddenly be a hot name on the job market once again. And past precedent says there’s nothing Bobby loves more than shopping himself for jobs.
9. Charlie Strong, Louisville. He turned down Tennessee (and others) for a massive new contract, then started earning it with an upset romp of Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Now armed with his most experienced team in four years on the job, Strong has the talent (and soft schedule) to run the table. If the Cardinals get a lot of help from attrition in power leagues, they could have a shot at playing for the national title.
That is just two of the coaches on UK’s schedule. In addition to #1 Nick Saban and Alabama, #18 Hugh Freeze, #19 Steve Spurrier, #21 Mark Richt, and #24 Butch Jones will face Stoops this year. In addition, James Franklin and Will Muschamp just missed the list, making nine high charged coaches on UK’s schedule. As you can expect the SEC was well represented with eight teams ranked. In addition to the teams on UK’s schedule, #7 Kevin Sumlin, #10 Bret Bielama, and #23 Gus Malzahn made the list.
To be honest, I’m not going to hate on Forde too much. I realize that right now Stoops is still a regional/conference story. For now.
You have to feel for Stoops though as he can not get away from these intriguing coaches. His brother Bob and former coach Jimbo Fisher come in at #11 and #16.