Kentucky Football: Why Mark Stoops should win Coach of the Year

Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops (Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops (Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports) /

Kentucky Football coach Mark Stoops like to say to recruits and everyone they ask“why Kentucky?” We say “why ?” Well, the same marketing campaign can be adopted to “Why Not Mark Stoops”.

Stoops is in the midst of his ninth season and without a doubt, in the best position, the program has been in for a very long time. The Wildcats (6-1, 4-1) are ranked No. 12 in both the AP and Coaches Poll under Stoops’ guidance,

On Monday he was named to the watch list as one of the 21 candidates for the American Heart Association’s 2021 Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award.

Well deserved – yes.

Winnable – yes.

Clear favorite?  Why not.

Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops nominated, deserving of Coach of the Year

The criteria state that the award is given annually to a college football coach for contributions that make the sport better for athletes and fans alike by demonstrating grit, integrity, and a winning approach to coaching and life — both on and off the field.

Front and center Mark Stoops.

Raise your hand and say Me. Me. Me.

While Stoops usually shies away from the limelight this is the year he should stand up and be recognized for building a program left in a barren mess by Joker Phillips nine years ago to possibly going 11-1 and being an elite team in the Southeastern Conference instead of a doormat.

He went from being a defensive backs coach at Arizona and Florida State that included two bowl appearances in his final years at Arizona and then in the three years he was at Florida State. His final team went 12-2 and played in the Orange Bowl.

The first year being at the helm of the Kentucky football program was a monumental task finishing the 2013 season with a 2-12 record. The polar opposite of the previous year in Tallahassee.

The man from Youngstown, Ohio stuck to his roots of hard work recruiting, molding, empowering, and old-fashioned football where defenses win games.

He wasn’t selling any pipedream that Kentucky would win the national title, but he never wavered from his simple hard work principles.

Stoops doesn’t toot his own horn, brag, or do insane interviews ala. Mike Leach or Lane Kiffen. He even made light of it in Monday’s press conference after discussing the colorful Mike Leach.

"“No. No, no. I will let Mike Leach be Mike Leach. I like Mike and I like listening to him too, but nobody wants to listen to Mark Stoops trying to be Mike Leach. I told you day one, authentic, be who you are. I am who I am. Sorry, you get a boring press conference.”"

Brick by brick, player by player he began to right the ship and build it from a sinking dingy to the battleship it is today.

His second and third teams improved to 5-7 and the tides began to turn and he has since sailed the Kentucky ship to five straight bowl appearances and now has his sights and ship positioned for a New Year’s Six Bowl game.

2016 -7-6  TaxSlayer Bowl

2017   7-6 Music City Bowl

2018   10-3 Citrus Bowl champions

2019    8-5 Belk Bowl champions

2020   5-6  TaxSlayer Gator Bowl champions

After two games of the 2016 season, his record was 12-26 but he has since gone 43-25 (.632).

This season is a culmination of these successes and fitting he wins the award

Expectations were running high that this could be a special team and an 11-1 or even 10-2 would be a fantastic success.

But it still needs Captain Stoops to bring it home.

It began with a 6-0 start, the best Kentucky football beginning since 1950. A loss to Georgia two weeks ago is the only blemish.

Overall, Stoops is now 55-51 at Kentucky. He is the second longest-tenured coach in the SEC behind Alabama’s Nick Saban and 14th longest of the 130 FBS schools.

He is cementing his legacy at UK one win at a time. He currently holds school records for most home wins (40), total SEC wins (28), and total games coached at UK (106).

Off the field, Stoops is a staunch supporter of the Kentucky Children’s Hospital, where he and his team make frequent weekly visits and have helped raise in excess of $2.25 million for the kids.

How fitting would it be on January 12 for Stoops to receive this honor?

Over the moon.

Fan’s also get to voice their opinion and voice so please go and vote for Stoops. Click on the photo below and it will take you to the voting page.

He has for the most part run a clean program. There are issues off the field such as poor judgments his coaches have made with DUI but they are grown men and know the laws.

The six players who got into an altercation at a fraternity party I am sure was dealt with internally and in the courts. They too were made aware of the program and Stoops’s expectations when they arrived on campus.

He wins, builds character, and has been successful gathering players that aren’t four and five stars but the ones who play for the name on the front of the uniform and team success.

Come on Big Blue Nation let’s show Coach Stoops how much he is loved.

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