Mark Stoops usually does not attend his final call-in show. After Kentucky created chaos in the Governor’s Cup, Stoops set the recruiting aside for an extra day to reassure the Big Blue Nation that they will not see anything like that ever again.
“There’s really no excuse. There was some things that had to be said. There was no excuse for the way of the things played out. I was not very proud of it. Our team has represented this university by and large very good. We have some guys doing some great things. The negative stuff and the way we played and the way we represented the university at times Saturday, I was not very proud of it. That needed to be addressed.
“We had a good long meeting today. I think we definitely hit home on some things that we needed to do. I needed to have some individual meetings with some players yesterday and today, got a lot done and got some things back on track. I don’t anticipate any lingering effects at all.”
Stoops did not elaborate on specifics from the team meeting other than, “that went as good as possible.” He also met individually with Jordan Jones, Denzil Ware and other players. They will be disciplined internally. If the players meet the requirements set by Stoops, they’ll be eligible to return for the bowl game.
Jones and Ware were not alone. Their actions coincided with Nick Haynes’ complaint about a young staffer, a grievance the senior team captain aired publicly on Twitter about 12 hours prior to kickoff. From the outside, the Kentucky football team looked like a mess. Mark Stoops shared a different perspective.
“You’d be silly to think that everything is peachy and perfect all the time and that everybody’s always happy. You have 110 kids. There’s a lot of egos in the room, but our team cares about each other. Nick cares about his team.
“Sometimes there’s things that linger, sometimes kids handle it one way or the other, but to think that everybody in that locker room is completely and perfectly happy with the way the season went for them…I wouldn’t expect them to be. But there’s absolutely zero issue. There never has been.”
Stoops has often been defensive when backed into a corner. At the end of tonight’s show he deviated from the norm and tried to inspire the fan base with this three-minute monologue:
“We accept it all. I know people get tired of it, but what else are you gonna do? We own it and do the very best we can. I’m proud of this team and so many good things they do off the field. I’m not trying to cover that (bad) stuff up, but it’s like– Courtney Love and the stories and the people, Stephen Johnson and the things they’re doing are amazing.
“By and large we’ve represented the university the right way. We’re gonna go back to work to do that because we care. We care about this fan base. We care about the way we represent the university. I love this team. I’m not proud of their actions at times, especially this past Saturday, but I’m proud of the growth they’ve made in so many areas. And I really appreciate doing this show with you, the callers, I appreciate the media and the fan base. You want the expectations high. You want to deliver. More so than the expectations, you want to deliver. I take great pride in that and we’re going to work extremely hard to get that done.
“We’ve knocked down some doors. We’ve gained on some people. We’ve improved in so many areas and we’re gonna keep on going. There’s so much turmoil, there’s so much chaos, there’s so much bad stuff out there. I’m proud of the good things we did. The bad stuff and the areas we need to improve, we’re going to do it and we need everybody to do it. I know I said that at the day one press conference and I say it now: it takes all of us to get this done, to win in the SEC…
“…We need everybody. We need this fan base. Don’t get discouraged and disgruntled. I promise ya, we’ll get our arms around this. The chaos that went on Saturday, we’ll get it straightened out. This is a team that cares. They’re fun and they’re passionate. We’ll get back to our winning ways. Where ever this bowl game is, we’re going to go there and represent you the right way and play hard and have some fun and win this football game. I greatly appreciate ya and I can’t wait to see ya at the bowl site.”