It’s been exactly one hundred days since that fateful moment when Twitter accounts in Kentucky exploded with heart-felt “STOOOOOOOOPS!” and hundreds of puns that never seem to run out (looking at you, “Stooping ice cream”). Let’s take a look at what Stoops has managed to accomplish in such a short time.
–An absolute circus of an introductory press conference. Stoops, Mitch Barnhart, and the UK Athletics department pulled out bells, whistles, smoke, mirrors, strobe lights, and more at a party disguised as a press conference; as Caroline Hall told me, “the only thing missing was an open bar.” Stoops’ press conference was the equivalent of the Ray Lewis dance entering the stadium, and the excitement has only risen from there.
-Hiring Neal Brown. Brown spearheaded one of the most productive and exciting offenses in the nation last year at Texas Tech, and as a Kentucky native and former UK wide receiver, luring Brown to Lexington was a huge “get” for Stoops. Cue the Air Raid sirens in Commonwealth, y’all.
-Landing Kentucky’s highest-ranked recruiting class in his first season. After barely two months on the job, Stoops had a signing day that Kentucky fans had been dreaming of for years that ended up being the 28th-ranked class in the country. More specifically, Stoops exploited some Ohio connections and converted four-star defensive end Jason Hatcher from University of Southern California to his home state school. He also landed hometown hero Ryan Timmons, who had offers from Ohio State and Florida. Stoops recruited aggressively right off the bat, making it known that Kentucky was no longer content to sit at the bottom of the SEC.
-Selling over 33,000 tickets for the Spring Game. Let’s put that into perspective- that’s about 4,000 more people that attended Kentucky’s football game against Vandy last fall. At this rate, Commonwealth Stadium will have a Top 15 crowd watching the Cats scrimmage under the new Stoops and company. The Spring Game sales are just further proof that the fans have completely bought into what Stoops is selling.
–A Thursday night prime time game against Mississippi State. Okay, so maybe this was less Stoops and more ESPN, but the scheduling change still shows that Stoops has made a splash nationwide in a very short time.
-Making it a normal to be feel excited about football in February. I know, I know- it was weird at first. Slowly but surely, however, Kentucky fans have become accustomed to spending dreary February days in their cubicles daydreaming not about the squeak of sneakers on hardwood floor, but the boom of the “FIRST DOWWWWNNN, KENTUCKY!” and the smell of burgers grilling in the parking lot at Commonwealth. For as long as I can remember, football has been secondary to basketball in Lexington, and with everything Stoops and his staff have accomplished so far, it seems like the times they are a-changin’. All of the bullet points above are just an elaborate way of saying that Stoops has risen the excitement level surrounding the program to unprecedented heights- and if current trends hold, he’s not done yet.
As a side note, BBN, it’s perfectly okay to be as enthusiastic (or more so as the case may be) about football as you are about basketball. Whoever told you it’s impossible to have two best friends is a liar.
If that’s what Stoops can do in a mere one hundred days, I’m almost scared to see what will happen in the next one hundred once the team actually starts practicing. The Stoops Effect is real, and it’s hit Lexington like a hurricane. Enjoy the ride.