Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. After a few years after a coach who was in over his head was hired the talent level is weak and the future of the program looks bleak. Mitch Barnhart is forced to make a grand slam hire to save both his job and the program. A disgruntled fanbase is rabid at the thought of emerging into national relevance. As different as Kentucky Football and Basketball have been over their history it’s somewhat ironic just how similar the two programs were at one time. After Billy G took the reigns and drove the Cadillac off the side of a mountain Cal came in and saved the day. In 12 days Coach Stoops will begin his quest to do the same. Can he find success just like Cal did upon his arrival in Lexington? He will if he can pull of the Cal method which he has so far. Here’s how:
1. Coin A Popular Catch Phrase
Cal started with the phrases from day one and never looked back. There was the magic wand, pooping ice cream, Pikeville to Paducah, and all of the other favorites big blue nation has grown to love. While this may not appeal to college age recruits it is something the fans love and if the fans love you you’ve got a longer leash to get things done. It didn’t take Stoops and company long to come up with a phrase of their own. Yhatzee spread like wildfire and has become synonymous with the new age Kentucky football. Stoops made a connection with the fans much like Cal and its a move that should pay major dividends down the road.
2. Land Top Recruits
For Cal this one was easy. You’re the hottest coach in America with the backing of Kentucky basketball. Getting guys to come play in Lexington is not problem. For Stoops it’s a bit more complex but something Cal has been helping with a bit. Stoops was quoted in the article Corey linked earlier saying:
“It’s been great so far,” Stoops said. “Coach (John) Calipari, he could not be any better. I really appreciate everything Coach Cal does for us. He takes time. We bring recruits in. He visits with them. He’s really embracing myself and our staff. So, I love it.
“He’s so charismatic. He’s been so successful. I love spending time with Coach Cal. I won’t really worry about that (being second to basketball), to be honest with you. There’s such support for Kentucky basketball because of what they’ve done. They deserve it.”
So a budding bromance between our coaches seems to be afloat and so far it seems to be working. Stoops has found a way to bring together two of the best classes in Kentucky history in only 8 short months. Maybe it isn’t out of the question to think he could one day match Cal in bringing in the nation’s absolute best to campus.
3. Beat Your Rivals
One thing that brought Cal success in year one was getting even with the teams that had beaten us while we were down. North Carolina, Louisville, and Florida all got their comeuppance when Cal arrived and perhaps Stoops can achieve the same thing. Western in week 1 will provide an opportunity to avenge one of those Joke losses and then home games with Louisville, Florida, and Tennessee could give a chance for the Cats to shock the world. If the Cats could notch a win against our rivals on a regular basis then Stoops needs to be awarded a lifetime contract.
The most important part of the Cal method is that Success Takes Time. Cal had the program relevant upon his arrival but it wasn’t until year three things became just stacked in his favor. In the same vein it will probably be year three before Stoops has his program where he wants it in Lexington. So far he seems to be on the right track just like Cal is doing on the hardwood.