Anybody with an older brother knows the drill: growing up, you get beaten in sports so much that you start to wonder when it will ever be “your turn.”
In a lot of ways, Mark Stoops and Kentucky were made for each other. Kentucky’s gotten used to being the “little guy” in football, constantly struggling to show the other programs that we can compete, too. Mark, coming from his position at Florida State, is navigating difficult terrain under increased scrutiny because his older brother, Bob, has been so successful at Oklahoma. During the regular season, at least.
But is Mark still operating under the “sibling rivalry” influence? Probably not, in spite of what the Tulsa World has to say about “lowly” Kentucky’s new coach:
So, when reporters ask questions of Stoops, it will often be because his brother, the outspoken coach at OU, has made some headlines.
Bob may say it. Mark will have to answer for it now that he is essentially the bottom of the SEC.
Once again the Wildcats are picked to finish last in the SEC Eastern Division. It is Kentucky’s usual spot in the football polls and standings.
So, Mark Stoops will have some explaining to do for his own team as well as anything his brother may say.
The whole article isn’t exactly kind to Kentucky football, but it’s not inaccurate either. It points out our position at the bottom of the SEC East, and our deserved reputation as a basketball school. And it doesn’t go out of its way to paint a great picture of Mark Stoops, either. It’s very much an Oklahoma piece talking about the little brother of Oklahoma’s head football coach.
But if you read between the lines, there’s room for interpretation, and inspiration. This is uncharted territory for everybody involved. Mark isn’t going into a traditional, albeit run-down powerhouse like his brother did. He’s a new coach at a school with new expectations. And while the Tulsa World rightly points out that “there is no quick fix in Kentucky,” that doesn’t mean that the team, and the coach, can’t get some chips off their shoulders. Mark Stoops and Kentucky football both have something to prove. Whether it’s competing with an actual big brother, or catching up to a trailblazing SEC, the opportunity to earn respect from the Tulsa Worlds of the universe is there.