One of the biggest problems that fans had with former head coach Joker Phillips, apart from his lack of producing a winning football team, was the way he expertly sugarcoated the problems that Kentucky football dealt with game in and game out. Instead of simply stating the facts acknowledging what UK was floundering at so they could improve, Coach Phillips gave the media lines like “we didn’t take advantage of our time on the field” or “our guys were confused”. This season, Cats fans have been dealt the hard truth. Mark Stoops is not afraid to tell it like it is, or publicly take any blame he feels is necessary after poor performances from Kentucky.
I read time and time again in the comment section how for years Kentucky football fans have been fed the same lines over and over again: “just wait till next year”, “it’ll get better, we’re improving” and “you have to put up with the bad to appreciate the good”. Granted, I’m guilty of saying them as well but I’m with ya, I’m done with hearing and typing those lines just as much as you are. Stoops knows that it’s time to put up or shut up for Kentucky football, and granted he will get, and deserves, a grace period. Magic rarely happens in college football, especially in the SEC, but there’s no excuse for players just not playing up to their talent level or simply fighting till the end. One of the best quotes I read from last night was Stoops telling the press ”I think we’re making progress, but I don’t think anybody cares. The record is what it is.”
Yes, it sucks to get trounced and out-gained by nearly 500 yards in a game. Yes, it sucks to be the doormat of the SEC…for now. But yes, we are getting better, and yes, Coach Stoops realizes this. The second half of this season will have a large influence on the attitude of the fans and the attitude that will surround this program in general during the off-season and going into next year. The Cats have a chance to make some real strides and not just take “moral victories” (another phrase I know you are tired of hearing). I think everyone can agree the energy and atmosphere around this program is different than what it has been, and it’s time to capitalize on that. Stoops made a promise last night that the Cats will “compete” in the latter portion of their schedule, and only time will tell if this is the truth. The gauntlet is over, and Kentucky can finally have some favorable match ups on the field.
Stoops’ public addressing of the real hard facts is just another reason to show he belongs in the SEC. You will never see Nick Saban or Les Miles sugarcoat anything. They are never pleased. They are never satisfied. They watch their practices and games and state the facts based on what needs to be done to get their teams to improve. Stoops and Co. agree this is not something they’re used to, and there is a distinct learning curve on how to handle this program, but they know this and are candid with the media about it. “Our production is unacceptable, and I’m obviously not used to it, but we will improve,” OC Neal Brown said after the game last night. Take it how you want, but at least it’s the truth.