As we continue in this Bizarro world where Kentucky under Cal is on the bubble, and football is relevant in February, it’s only fitting that after last night’s busy day in basketball, we get a little soundbyte from Mark Stoops.
Stoops spoke yesterday to Saturday Down South/Courier Journal (who apparently made time between fielding calls about that Nerlens comic) about life at UK post-Signing Day:
You had to really hit the ground running – hire a staff, scramble to finish your first UK recruiting class – so have you caught your breath yet?
Yeah, yeah, starting to. I feel good, feel more and more settled each and every day. It feels good to get through one phase and start getting into the other. Really, this starts the exciting time: getting with the players, meeting with our players here and developing them, having a great off-season program and then gearing up for spring.
What has your average day been like since you were hired, in terms of hours?
You know, to be honest with you, it really never stops – even if you leave and go home. During that time, you’re on the phone with recruiting. So it’s hard to say, but it was from very early in the morning to very late at night. And that definitely didn’t stop until after signing day.
Stoops also spoke about his family’s relationship with Ohio, which, along with Florida, is a major recruiting target for Mark and Co., and is typically a hotbed of talent. What’s the key with recruiting the Buckeye state? “Relationships.” That’s a pretty good thing for a guy whose dad was a former high school coach up near the Akron/Canton area. Needless to say, as an Ohio guy who lived down in Florida, Stoops is probably pretty excited with the geography of the Kentucky job.
The best bit, though? Stoops isn’t afraid to let fans’ imaginations run wild. We’re used to getting the reins pulled back a bit with Coach Cal, who will be the first (and sometimes only) voice of reason when it comes to expectations. We heard it last year early on, talking about how his team had so many improvements to make, and that they were still only freshmen. In his first year, he made sure we knew he didn’t have a magic wand, and that he wasn’t the Grand High Poobah. Stoops though, likely with knowledge that expectations for Kentucky football were already so far below those for Kentucky basketball, won’t tell fans to chill.
That’s not up to me. I would never do that. I would never put a governor on our team. We’re going to, again, go about our business, prepare to do the best we can each and every day. If that brings excitement to the fans, I love it, bring it on, because I’ve been very encouraged with the support and I think that’s really helped us with our program – with recruiting and with our own team, with our staff. We’re all in this thing together. We’re motivated. It’s been very encouraging to feel the excitement.
Bring it on? Oh Stoops. We’ll put the “lewd” in “deluded.”