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CBS Sports Takes A Look At Mark Stoops


If you’re a part of the Big Blue Nation, you more than likely are a fan of Mark Stoops. Over the course of the last 6 months Coach Stoops has dragged the Kentucky football program out of a hole in a frozen pond, dragged it to shore, and with the help of his young, vibrant coaching staff resuscitated it back to life. With the coaching staff’s success on the recruiting trail so far and the UK fanbase’s rallying around football, national media has started to take notice. So much so, that CBS Sports profiled Mark Stoops in their ” New Coach Reset” yesterday. This is some of what they had to say about UK’s new head football coach:


Reason for the change: By the three-quarters-pole of the 2012 season, not even Tennessee or Auburn could challenge Kentucky for the honor of being the SEC’s most miserable program. Not only did the Wildcats wrap up the season at 0-8 in the league and 2-10 overall, not only did they lose to the state’s resident Sun Belt squad, not only did they finish with the SEC’s worst offense in both yards per-play and scoring, they lost at home to Vanderbilt, 40-0. That bears repeating: they lost at home to Vanderbilt, 40-0. There can be no greater argument for an SEC coach’s firing than that, can there?


As exciting as the new regime has been for Kentucky football, it goes without saying that the crippling depression that was last year’s football season is partially the reason for the excitement. Sunshine wouldn’t be as awesome if we didn’t have rain, right? 


Notable Prospects: Like many first-time coaches hoping for a quicker turnaround than expected, Stoops brought in several JUCO prospects with chances of immediate playing time, including four-star playmaker Za’Darius Smith at defensive end and three-star standout Nate Willis at corner. But the recruits who will have Wildcat fans most optimistic about Stoops’ future will be four-star defensive back Marcus McWilson from Ohio powerhouse Cardinal Mooney and four-star defensive end Jason Hatcher from Louisville, a USC target. To make Kentucky into anything like an actual SEC contender, Stoops has to 1. keep the rare top-of-the-line in-state talent in the state (and away from Louisville) 2. mine the highly fertile Ohio recruiting grounds for whatever quality players the Buckeyes miss. McWilson and Hatcher represented two big steps in those two directions.


Obviously, CBS is only using last year’s partial recruiting class as the basis for this part, but the thesis remains the same into 2014 as well. Lock down the state’s top talent (Drew Barker, Matt Elam) and poach Ohio for quality talent (almost everyone else). I do disagree that UK is relegated to Ohio State’s sloppy seconds though, the fact is that UK is going to get their fair share of top talent in Ohio, Stoops and Marrow have shown that in their half a year in Lexington.


Fan reaction: Kentucky’s legions of diehard basketball fans are known as Big Blue Nation, which would traditionally make the Wildcats’ not-quite-legions of not-so-diehard football fans … Big Blue Fiefdom? Big Blue City-State? Big Blue Unincorporated Rural County Community? Thanks to Stoops, though, it seems the answer is suddenly “none of the above.” Despite his largely head-down, nose-to-the-grindstone approach — or maybe because of it — Stoops has connected with the Wildcat fanbase like no new coach in the program’s history, drawing a record number of fans to the Wildcat spring game and sparking what appears to be actual belief in a fanbase that’s always found it a rare commodity. That buzz qualifies as one of the biggest surprises and biggest stories of the SEC’s spring — and it already seems to be paying dividends on the recruiting trail, where Stoops is off to a hot start for 2014.


Okay, I take small offense to this. The Big Blue Nation doesn’t just refer to basketball fans, it refers to the entirety of Kentucky sports. Basketball is king in Kentucky, that can’t be argued, but the idea that Kentucky fans are somehow ashamed of our football team is ridiculous. Just because decades of incompetence have given UK fans lesser expectations regarding the pigskin does not mean we don’t share the same love for them, it just means that for years pessimism and a ‘How are we going to lose this game?” attitude have been rampant in Lexington. Stoops is working on that.


2013 Outlook: The good news is that Stoops has some experience to work with across the depth chart after the young ‘Cats took their 2012 lumps, that thanks to tackles Donte Rumph and Mister Cobble the defensive line still has promise, that Brown has options at quarterback and should only continue to grow as a coordinator, and that things literally cannot get worse. But an SEC schedule that hands the ‘Cats a road date at Mississippi State and a home one vs. Alabama isn’t anywhere near “friendly.” Three winnable nonconference games and home games vs. Missouri and Tennessee should see the Wildcats trump their 2012 win total and possibly even double it, but anything more than that will have to wait another season.


I can honestly say I agree with everything in that paragraph. 

Article written by Will Totten

Born in Indiana and raised in Louisville, I am the unlikeliest UK fan.

39 Comments for CBS Sports Takes A Look At Mark Stoops

  1. tdogg40330
    12:05 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    At least it will be fun to watch again. I still think this team will be better
    than most think, I wouldn’t be shocked if they went to a bowl game.

  2. Katdaddy
    12:13 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    Haven’t played a game yet and already talking a bowl. There will be FOR SALE signs in his yard by year three.

  3. mudcreekmark
    12:14 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    OK. Its time for someone on the staff of KSR to look into similar football programs as UK and see how many fans they have averaged over the last 50 years. We have for the most part been awful at football. However, we have consistently filled our stadium week in and week out. Some exceptions, such as this past year, but for the most part our fans still keep showing up regardless of the product on the field. I would imagine if you look at Vandy, Duke, Wake Forest, Kansas, teams that have been bad, for the majority of years, you will find that our average attendance is probably double these teams. I would also say that we probably have out drawn Ole Miss, Miss, State and some of the bottom rung SEC teams.

  4. Will Totten
    12:16 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    2. I could say UK wins 10 games next year and it has the same exact validity as your statement. No need to hang around and crap on everyone’s parade, but if you want to, then at least do it with more than one hypothetical sentence

  5. BBN.
    12:16 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    I really think this team will overachieve this season and will surprise everybody. If the freshman can come in and make an immediate impact then I think we have a shot at a 6-6 season and make a bowl game.

  6. BBN.
    12:22 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    Vandy won 9 games last year and they still couldn’t fill there little 40,000 seat stadium!!! Vandys fans suck. Uk’s fan base is definitely in the top 5 of all the college fan bases.

  7. Katdaddy
    12:26 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    @4- Ok i will say a little more. UK will not make a bowl this football season.

  8. BBN.
    12:33 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    2. What makes you say that? Have you seen the job Mark Stoops has done in recruiting?? Obviously not!! By year three I believe UK will win 8 or 9 games!! Fans like you make me sick to my stomach. Your not a real UK fan. A real UK fan supports the program and their coaches. Your probably a UL fan anyway.

  9. Papadog
    12:36 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    7… Ok I will say a little more… You are a biotch.

  10. ukfaninohio
    12:47 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    Man i just hope we can somehow keep stoops and maybe this staff together for awhile.We have truly found a gem and like they say as long as he leaves the program better than he found it you can’t be mad at him.But with that said i think if we are to compete year in year out we really need him to stay for a long time.That is asking a lot because if he comes here of all places and starts winning he will have his choice of pretty much every job that comes available.Maybe this is just the pessimistic uk football fan in me talking.GO.BIG.BLUE.

  11. Katdaddy
    12:49 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    BBN your probably one of the delusional uk fans that thought last years BB teams was going to the final four also. I’m a uk fan but a realistic one.

  12. mudcreekmark
    12:57 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    2)If there is a for sale sign in his yard after year three, it will because he has gotten us to 8 or 9 wins and some big school has snatched him up.It will not be because of losing, I will take a big bet on that one.Barnhart wouldn’t run him off after only 3 years, given the state of the program that he is taking over.

  13. jpgott2
    12:59 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    5., with the facts that UK has a completely new system and coaches, combined with the reality that UK has one of the toughest schedules in the country next season, UK will probably win 4 games. That is not bad considering all that UK has undergone with the previous staff. The future is bright.

    Vandy won 9 games in Franklins 2nd season because they had a gift of a schedule when considering random SEC match-ups. They did not beat a single ranked team. They are doing well, yet they lost all of their tough games.

  14. Blue To The Bone..
    1:11 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    #2 KD…Why is any different than we haven’t played a game yet and some of you guys are predicting there is no way we make a bowl…We simple don’t know yet what this staff can bring out of these guys…JP & RS are not going to be on the field next yr…

  15. Blue To The Bone..
    1:16 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    #10 ukfo…Keeping Stoops if he wins=$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$, fan support and committment from the administration…pure and simple…Absolutely positive the fan support will be off the charts , but don’t really know about the rest…

  16. Blue To The Bone..
    1:18 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    #10..Look at it this way…If Charlie Strong can turn down UT to stay at Otis , why can’t we keep Mark Stoops at THE University of Kentucky.

  17. bigbluetrue
    1:33 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    I have been a UK football fan for 40 years and the fan support has ALWAYS been there. Last year was a true metamorphosis of the fan base from being a lap dog of the administration to becoming a fan base that DEMANDED we get off the porch and run with the big dogs. The only way the fans could make a statement that we wanted better was to stop going to games–something that had to happen. Once the administration decided they were going to FINALLY get serious about football, the fans responded as evidenced by the spring game. The sleeping giant has awakened and good times are ahead. How many times have I ever been to a UL website? ZERO! Why? Because I could give a rats rear about what is going on with their program. I have never felt threatened by little brother but obviously they do by big brother as evidenced by the number of their trolls all over UK sites.

  18. rixter
    1:35 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    Katdaddy, you say you’re a UK fan?

    You must think we are ALL delusional! I smell a Tard fan…..

  19. jpgott2
    1:39 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    15., with the 20+ million UK is getting from the SEC, on top of the big bump the SEC network will bring, UK will have the $$$$$$ to keep Stoops. He wants to build his own legacy, and he saw the power of the BBN (One of the main reasons he sought the job when Mitch was looking). He can be the coach that actually builds a program/brand.

  20. Dave
    1:54 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    3; Look into to Stanford since they hired Harbaugh. I did my research comparing recruiting numbers, football statistics, and wins/loses. If we win 5 this year we will be on track with similarities of the cardinal in the past 6 seasons. If you dont believe me do it your self guys before you start bashing me.

  21. tampa satchel
    2:02 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    First, I think it is a bit to forward thinking to be speculating about Stoops being offered more money from a bigger school. Next, there is no way , if he produces a winner, that Mitch is letting him slip away. Mitch already said we could afford to pay a football coach Cal’s salary, so if he proves his worth, then he will get paid handsomely.

    The question is can he/they continue this great start and get an even better class next se which would translate into more wins the following season. If he produces 3 top 20 classes in a row and a bowl by year 2 or even 3, then he will be exceeding expectations and BBN will have transformed into a two sport beast. One can hope. Go Cats!!.

  22. BBN.
    2:21 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    Katdaddy yes I’ve seen the schedule. And no I didn’t think last seasons bball team would make the final four. I did think they would do a lot better than a NIT bid. You can think I’m delusional all you want but let me show you winnable games next year.

    Western Kentucky
    Miami (OH)
    Louisville ( I know you think this game will be a loss with you being a UL fan and all but its a rivalry game and I think UK will be pumped up and competitive.)
    Alabama St.

    There you go there is 7 winnable games and its not delusional to think they could win all of those games. You are a downer who never sees the positive in anything and you know shit about UK sports or sports in general. Find a new hobby and find some happiness in your life or hang yourself.

  23. Bubba Billy
    2:42 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    BBN, in your #6 post you say the UK fan base is top 5 in the country. Top 5 in what? It surely isn’t in size. The most recent studies put UK as the #34 fan base in the country. You should read the following article. Scroll down the article a bit to see the rankings, the first half describes their methodologies in figuring out the sizes of the fan bases.

  24. BBN.
    2:57 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    23. That’s one persons opinion. UK fans would travel anywhere to see UK play basketball or football in huge numbers. UK has a global fan base not many college teams can say that. Do you actually believe that we are 34th?

  25. BBN.
    3:04 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    So that article says Auburn has a bigger fan base than Alabama. Really? Lol. Come on I seriously doubt that.

  26. maddogmitchell55
    3:07 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    23. Bubba – Perhaps not in size, but most certainly in loyalty. Also their willingness to travel to watch and support their in team away from home is easily much, much higher than 34th. To believe BBN’s willingness to travel the Seven Seas to support UK football, basketball, etc… is ranked anywhere near 34th is a sure sign that you, sir Bubba, need unconfused.

  27. maddogmitchell55
    3:10 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    Right now, according to Rivals, UK’s 2014 football team rankings in recruiting has the Cats with the 5th best class in the SEC. Even better is it has their class as the 2nd best the SEC East. Go Cats!

  28. Stoooooooooops
    3:38 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    #8 If you are right and by the job Stoops has done so far it’s not outside of possible. We will be looking for a new coach by the start of year 4. I’m sorry but UK is not a destination job in football! It’s kinda like Cal leavening Memphis for UK Memphis may have had a better team but UK is a better job!
    How could so many of the BBN have said it was a no brainer for Cal to take the UK job but our football coach wont leave for a better job. Sounds a little hypocritical doesn’t it!

  29. Get real 22
    3:56 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    If we win 4 games next year Stoops should win coach of the year. UK is competing in the SEC with a basicly MAC team. Don’t take my word for it go back and look at the other schools recruiting most of our team. Give stoops time and he could do some good things but it doesn’t happen over night.
    You are what your record says you are, and we where a 2 win team, lacking a line and QB. Max Smith sucks ans isn’t never going to be better then a SEC back up.
    22) it sickens me to see all you sunshine pumpers putting Vandy down as a winnable game. You do realize they just beat us by 40 don’t you. So you think Stoops makes a 41 difference, OK! UL basically knelt on the ball the whole second half because Strong wanted Joker at UK, UL is not a winnable game I just hope it isn’t a blow out. Patrino is one of the better game coaches in the country. So I don’t think I would be so quick to put WKU down as a win.
    I’ll agree that UT and Missou are games that could go either way. So 4 wins would be good 5 should get Stoops coach of the year!

  30. Respect
    4:56 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    #29. It’s all about respect and unfortunately this site and its followers want to prognosticate and analyze during football season like we’re talking basketball. Except–we’re not Alabama and have no more cred to burn than the Duke’s of the football world.

    You think this site is open to only to UK fans? I know for a fact preseason material from here made it to the Vanderbilt locker room before the 40-0 lashing at CWS last year.

  31. Katdaddy
    4:58 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    Why is everything about ul? You guys posessed with ul. i just think exspectations are to high.

  32. rj
    5:44 pm June 1, 2013 Permalink

    hey Katdaddy, the word your looking for is obsessed, you dumbass. what you are “posessed” by is the spirit of a cardinal moron.

  33. Dee W.
    12:20 am June 2, 2013 Permalink

    Our football program’s weakness is actually a modern phenomena…it historically has been fairly dominant. Rich Brooks got it back to solid footing for a time – not dominant, but definitely solid. It is older than the basketball team, and it is what got us the nickname “Wildcats” when a member of the faculty commented on one of their wins that they had “fought like wildcats” – no need to explain how it evolved from there – ironically this happened the same year Kentucky hired its first official paid Head Coach for basketball (previously the team was lead by managers) – the same person who was named the Head football coach hired that same year – Edwin R. Sweetland – you can read more about that here:

    If Stoops can reclaim UK Football’s historic mantle of dominance in this sport, they should do what they can to keep him and attract other top caliber coaches to fill the job – that hasn’t been done for awhile.

  34. Blue To The Bone..
    3:10 am June 2, 2013 Permalink

    #28Stooooops…No…What you are saying is hypocritical…With you comparing Stoops to Cal then the only job MS should leave KENTUCKY for is Alabama(best fb program in the country)…Cal left Memphis because KENTUCKY is the best basketball program in the country…If Marks Stoops is as successful as he wants to be then the KENTUCKY job can be as a good of a job as any in the country with the exception of the top 5 perceived jobs out there…MB will match or beat any offer made to him and don’t forget…he is coaching in the best conference and for the best fans in the country!!!

  35. Stoooooos
    3:37 am June 2, 2013 Permalink

    34) you are way overrating the UK job! There is at least 25 jobs out there with more prestige then UK football will ever have! As far as money, if you remember correctly Mamphis offered Cal more to stay there.

  36. Guest
    5:20 am June 2, 2013 Permalink

    #2, 7, 11 –
    You can be a fan and be realistic, but being realistic doesn’t make you a fan. Being excited makes you a fan. It’s completely backwards as compared to how intelligent humans react to things in everyday life, but that’s why it’s fanhood and not real life. No one here wants to hear your negativity. Stop typing or act happier. Otherwise, shut your mouth.

  37. Guest
    5:25 am June 2, 2013 Permalink

    #35 – If you think the “offer” price and the amount a coach gets paid are equivalents then do some more thinking. 20%, at most, of a coach’s contract is base salary paid by the school. The majority comes from commercial dealings (commercials, billboards, etc.) and Memphis cannot compete with UK in that arena. And neither can FedEx. You’re wrong.

  38. Katdaddy
    11:27 am June 2, 2013 Permalink

    32,36 GO strength to hell. If you don’t like my opinion don’t read it. See the X at the top right hand side of the screen? CLICK ON IT CONTROL FREAK.

  39. kycatman
    2:10 pm June 2, 2013 Permalink

    Hey Katdaddy, Maybe you should go piss up a rope or something!! You seem to be getting all stressed out because some on here are calling you out. The reason their calling you out is because of your stupid remarks and miss spelling and phrasing. What exactly is GO strength to *ell?!?!?! True Fan or Troll,just chill baby and set back and watch Kentucky Football prove your ass wrong for the next 3 years!!! Go Cats !!! Go Stoops !!!