Kentucky Wildcats Football: The Process


Dec 2, 2012; Lexington , KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops walks into a press conference to be introduced as the new football coach at the University of Kentucky in the Nutter Field House. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA Today Sports

With Spring practice starting in a little less than a week, the Wildcat coaching staff is excited to get to work with their team for the first time. Several coaches took to Twitter this week to express their excitement.

While fans surely have tons of questions about what changes will be made compared to the Phillips regime and how the early enrollees are looking in their first practices as Cats, we are going to look at one of the most important aspect  :the process.

Mark Stoops is always talking about the process, the process, the process. It has to be frustrating for the writers who like to ask incendiary questions when the only response they get is “the process”.  Some folks have rumbled that he is avoiding certain questions by defaulting to a stock answer. That’s not the case at all, he just isn’t going to make any bold win/loss record or Louisville-defeat predictions.

What Coach Stoops is talking about is putting a system in place that sets his players up to succeed and therefore Kentucky football up to succeed. Having been around several championship programs during his coaching career, Stoops knows what a good team looks like and wants to make Kentucky look the same. Think “Sabanizing” but not as catchy. Fans who attend the Blue/White Game or an open practices should be able to tell if players are buying in by seeing how much the coaches have to yell. Players at championship programs finish drills at full speed without being told to do so.

At this point the question about how many wins fans can expect Year 1 has been asked a million times. Immediately following that is usually something to the tune of “How many wins would you consider a successful first year?” Answer: The Process. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care about winning games, he has said many times that you have to win to keep your job. He just has a long-term plan beyond 2013.

Think about it, he isn’t just putting in a new offense and a new defense but a whole new program. Mark Stoops is stepping into a machine so broken that has barely worked at all for half a century. He basically has to build a new one using the frame of the old one. Maybe Kentucky only wins four games next year, but if they practice like men and play their hearts out every and compete, then that’s a good start. Of course Year Two has to be better. And so on and so forth.

I believe he will do it. Despite the results, Joker Phillips left a decently talented team for Stoops to start with, at least by Kentucky standards. Comparing the Stoops hire to Phillips, Brooks and even Mumme before him, everything is different. All of the support football fans wailed about has finally arrived and everyone that matters is behind these coaches and this team. It’s been kind of a perfect storm since the day Stoops was hired through what should be record attendance for the Spring Game. The staff has real support, can recruit, have personality and if they can coach at all will raise the bar for Kentucky football in a few short years. Hop on the bandwagon before it leaves.