This afternoon’s introduction of Mark Stoops as Kentucky’s new head football coach couldn’t have been done any better. You could tell that it took a lot of preparation and hard work by the athletics department to put the event together, but at the same time, it wasn’t too much. The band, cheerleaders, decorations, and of course the fans who showed up at Nutter Fieldhouse and at the airport made Coach Stoops feel welcome, and showed that the University and Big Blue Nation does, in fact, care deeply about football. There was not too much fan fare, as there was for the arrival of Billy Gillispie at Memorial Coliseum, but there was just enough of it that there needed to be. Coach Stoops was not overwhelmed with it, but appeared comfortable, confident, excited, and ready to get to work.
The well-done introduction showed our current players, future players, potential coaching staff, and the Stoops family that Kentucky is a great place to be. Most of all, it showed the fans’ and administration’s interest, level of commitment, and desire to win in football. Even though attendance dropped tremendously this past season, interest in the program did not. What we have seen over the course of the season and through the coaching search is that people didn’t stop caring about the UK football program even through the lowest of lows. Many fans stopped attending games, perhaps as protest for change, but the 2-10 season didn’t stop fans from calling into KSR and visiting the blog in very high numbers to read, complain, listen about, leave angry comments, cry, bicker, call in, laugh, and gripe about the football team.
An angry fan base is better than an apathetic one. Big Blue Nation never stopped caring, and as a result, I believe that passion helped bring Mark Stoops to a place starving for consistent football success. Even as the start of basketball season came following a National Championship, the UK football coaching search remained the No. 1 topic of conversation in UK sports on radio, on the web, and on social media. The myth that UK fans do not care about football has been put to rest, and the support and interest of the team next year could be as high as ever before. If you ever doubt how important fan support is to a head coach, look no further than Cincinnati’s Butch Jones, who is likely to leave behind a winning program largely due to the fact that nobody in that school’s city cares about it. That is not the case here at Kentucky, and it’s been proven over the course of this past season here at KSR.
Give yourselves a pat on the back, Kentucky fans, Mitch Barnhart, Tim Couch, and all who helped bring Mark Stoops to Kentucky.