National Signing Day and all the events and excitement surrounding the Kentucky Wildcats football 2014 recruiting class is almost one week old now. There is definitely optimistic momentum going forward. However reflecting on the historic developments is still a good thing.
No matter where your program lies in the college football landscape, its tradition is what it is. Perceptions are what they are, for better or for worse. Alabama, for example, is at or near the top of the mountain. They have the respective championships and the recruiting successes to back it up.
Kentucky, on the other hand, has not been so fortunate. Recruiting classes (according to Rivals.com) routinely hovered in the fifties and sixties nationally. There were diamonds in the rough (Randall Cobb) but the inability to consistently bring in upper tier talent coupled with competing in the best conference in the nation is a combination that leads to less than stellar results.
It kind of became the norm, if you will. An unwanted tradition or stigma. What was the perception that grew from this? Kentucky can’t recruit at the SEC level, they can’t compete. This after many years can become a silent burden. It gets to the point where it becomes accepted, status quo if you will. It’s as if a self-imposed ceiling is placed over the program that remains until it’s finally broken through.
In the past previous staffs projected where less talented players could wind up if they reached their full potential, then they would look to coach them up. Mark Stoops has come along and raised the recruiting ceiling and altered the perceptions of Kentucky football. In a little more than a year (he was hired on Nov. 27, 2012) he has brought in two top 30 classes (29th and 17th).
This is unheard of for football, thirteen 4-star players in the last two classes. To be real, this class still comes in at 9th in the SEC, that just shows what a monster this conference is. But it’s a start, a great start, and that’s all you can ask for.
New traditions and perceptions could be on the horizon down the road.