Happy Thanksgiving Big Blue Nation!It is a time for everyone to come together and break bread and enjoy fellowship and remember all of the things we have been blessed with this year. As a football-first Kentucky fan, many may doubt that I have much to be thankful for this year. Those folks would be very wrong. While this season has yielded only two victories and there have been a handful of downright embarrassing moments this season, I’m very thankful for the way things are going for Wildcat football. A list of things that make this Kentucky football fan thankful:
– Mark Stoops
Last year when I got a text in the middle of the night that Kentucky was hiring Stoops, I really didn’t believe it. One of the hottest assistants in the nation, and a defensive coach at that, didn’t seem likely to take this job. But take it he did and since the day I shook his hand at his introductory press conference I knew this guy was going to be different. There have been some growing pains, but he hasn’t disappointed yet.
Stoops’ staff consists of one guy (Neal Brown) who was considered for the head coaching job, the guy who was going to succeed Stoops at Florida State (DJ Eliot), a guy who won a national title in the SEC (Bradley Dale Peveto at LSU) and Nebraska’s best recruiter (Vince Marrow). The other members are no slouches either. It’s an undeniable upgrade over the last staff at nearly every spot and was almost better. Tommy Mainord has been a pleasant surprise on the recruiting trail and, outside of their blocking, has done a good job coaching the receivers.
-Commitment from the University
We all got a look at the new Commonwealth Stadium this week and you can’t help but be impressed. Compared to the bare-bones look that it sports now, the new Commonwealth is going to look modern and asthetically pleasing in general. It’s the newest stadium in the SEC and it’s finally going to look like it. The university and the administration are saying all of the right things and it looks like they may have finally figured out that they need to invest in this program for it to flourish. As someone who has followed this program closely for over a decade, it is simply night and day in this aspect.
-The 2014 Class
Don’t get me wrong, the 2013 class has been great as well. There are numerous contributors on the field and several others waiting in the wings to make an impact for Kentucky. They’ve been great. But the 2014 guys have taken it to a new level. Kentucky had the #1 ranked recruiting class in the country at one point, think about that for a second. And the recruits have been just as responsible is assembling this group as the coaches. Drew Barker, Mikel Horton, Thaddeus Snodgrass and Dorian Hendrix have been on other players to join them in Lexington since the Spring. And as soon as someone new joins the fold, you see them reaching out to other players online or listing guys they plan to work on in interviews. It’s just remarkable.
I know I’ve already listed marrow as part of the staff but I think he deserves some special attention. Kentucky has tried to recruit the state of Ohio for 50 years and has very little to show for it. Marrow arrives and suddenly the Wildcats are a major player in the Buckeye State. They are right there with OSU and Michigan for Ohio players and the change was overnight. Every single one of the commits they have received from Ohio have Marrow’s name on them. The guy knows everyone North of the river.