Mark Stoops was a little choked up after Kentucky’s 27-16 win over Florida, and can you blame him? Kentucky’s 31-year losing streak to the Gators hung like a cloud over the program for decades, and now, the Cats are finally free.
“Obviously, it’s hard to describe the feeling I have right now. Just feel so blessed to be the head coach here and get that victory for, truly, everyone in the Big Blue Nation. Most importantly our players and the work that they put in, the time and commitment. I’ve said all along that I love this team. At halftime, I told them before the game, that we’re going to win this game in a team effort because they love, trust and believe in each other. I’m happy for our administration and our fanbase. Our fanbase has waited a long time.”
Yes, we have. No one was more tired of talking about the streak than Stoops.
“To say that that doesn’t bother you would be a lie because I think that’s an undue burden that these players inherit sometimes when they come into a streak like that. They don’t deserve that. They weren’t a part of that. Some of these guys were a part of last year’s team and they know how well they played a year ago, they just didn’t come out on the front end. We know how we can play with just about anybody in this league and that is gratifying because we don’t have to deal with that no more. They can get all that updated in the game notes and all that.”
Making the night even more emotional is Stoops telling reporters the game ball will go to John Schlarman and Josh Paschal, who are both battling cancer.
“I’m going to award John Schlarman the game ball. That offensive line, those tight ends blocked. We rushed the ball for 300 yards at Florida. That’s a pretty good number. John is going through a lot, as we’ve talked about, but seeing him again, this past week go through six hours of chemo and pop up at practice like he didn’t miss a beat. He’s a strong man. He’s going through a lot. I was grateful to be able to get him a win and of course, we got one for Josh Paschal. Great team victory.”
If you need me, I’ll just be crying over here. What a night.