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UK Fans of the Day Approve of UK Football Coach Search

As we close on the first week of the Mark Stoops era at Kentucky, some reflection is due. While we of course don’t know for certain whether Stoops will be successful, it is looking more and more like Kentucky hit as close to a home run as it could hope for with his hire. From day one, we have seen in Stoops, a coach who is ready and determined to take Kentucky to a successful tier in the SEC, while adding much needed new life to the program. He has committed the program to defense and has already shown a desire to build a staff that will make recruiting, the toughest part of the job at Kentucky, a priority for success. Even though he has yet to coach a game or even have a practice, Stoops has energized the UK fan base to a level that we have not seen in at least a decade as fans for the first time in a number of years, look forward to a new football season with something other than dread.

Two weeks ago however, the notion that the UK fan base could be unified and excited about any head coach seemed a pipe dream. From the moment Bobby Petrino’s father told reporters that his son was interested in the job, a fan base split seemed inevitable. Barnhart was never going to hire Petrino (and it looks like no other major AD would either) and a strong group of fans couldn’t imagine any other coach being acceptable. A split verdict on a new hire seemed a certainty. But then, to his credit, Barnhart found the one coach that could heal the divide and unify the Kentucky faithful towards the future. While reporters and fans craved public information, Barnhart went about his business in private, with nary a word leaking out. While fans became panicked over the group of has-beens that reporters incorrectly leaked out as candidates (remember the day it was reported that Phillip Fulmer was about to be hired?), Barnhart stayed calm and kept to his plan and search process. And while everyone (myself included) derided the attractiveness of the UK job opening, Barnhart found the one coach who was supremely interested in the job and confident he could win here. Simply put, while most believed Barnhart’s search was a train wreck, it was actually being handled masterfully, to highly successful results.

A number of Barnhart decisions were well-planned, but the best decision made was to begin the process early. While three SEC job openings could have been predicted, the openings at NC State, Purdue and California were a bit less obvious. By getting out early, Barnhart was able to select his top choice from a list of Kentucky-tier candidates before any other school could get on board. The three coaches hired at those schools (from Louisiana Tech, Northern Illinois and Kent State) were all considered by Kentucky and one of them (Sonny Dykes) reached the “top 5” stage. But Barnhart didn’t have to wait to compete with these other programs, or enter a bidding war for his coach’s services, because he made the painful decision to cut ties with Joker early and get the process started early. That more than anything else, assured the successful hire in the end.

Now after the SEC musical chairs have stopped, Kentucky has a coach that is arguably on the level of the better programs that were also looking. Can anyone say with certainty that Bret Beliema, Gus Malzahn and Butch Jones are better hires than Mark Stoops? From a production standpoint, Arkansas getting Wisconsin’s Bret Beliema is clearly a stronger hire, as he has been to three Rose Bowls over the past three seasons. But do we know for certain that his brand of Big Ten football will work in the SEC? It remains to be seen. Butch Jones is making Tennessee fans’ heads explode with anger. He was one of three finalists for the UK job (along with Stoops and Mike McIntyre), but when UK asked him if he would be willing to accept if offered (something asked to all three candidates), Jones said he wanted to wait and see about the UT job. Kentucky was confident enough about Stoops (who was probably the top choice anyway) to not engage in that waiting game and go ahead and make the selection. Now that coach, one who was considered on the same, or lower, tier than UK’s new coach, will lead a program that believes itself to be one of the nation’s best. And finally, Gus Malzahn, who has been a head coach for one year and had a successful coordinator run thanks to a man named Cam Newton, is heading Auburn. If given the choice straight up, there is no question I would take Mark Stoops over him at either program. Thus Mitch Barnhart, dealing with the worst job of the four by a large margin, somehow ended up with a coach, depending on your criteria, either close to the same level or better, than the one selected by the three more storied programs. That is a home run.

Not everything Mitch Barnhart does is perfect. He has a long ways to go in fundraising and relating to the UK football donors/the fan base in general. He can make flippant statements that rightly cause anger amongst the fans and I have often thought that his decisions on tone are baffling. But when it comes to managing an Athletic Department and hiring coaches, his record is pretty solid. And it looks as if in this case, despite dire predictions to the contrary, he has done it once again. For that he should be commended, whether it be by his so-called “mouthpiece”, or a random sports blogger.

Article written by Matt Jones

56 Comments for UK Fans of the Day Approve of UK Football Coach Search



  1. UK Fan
    4:02 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    Wow. Matt is further up Barnhart’s arse that I even thought. Still seeking (manipulating) fans’ opinion on what a great job Mitch did on this hire. Keep it up Matt…don’t want to lose your press pass for next year.



  2. uk
    4:05 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    o stfu #1. Quit coming to KSR if you have a problem with it.



  3. Doubtful
    4:07 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    Matt, your *corrects spelling* you’re just an empty suit. Oh wait, nevermind, thats Ryan.



  4. tom5673
    4:12 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    sweet mashburn jersey!



  5. RichieFarmer'sMustache
    4:15 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    4) I could’ve looked at that picture a million times and never noticed the Mashburn jersey….



  6. Donnie
    4:17 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    C’mon…….We need an OC update. Care less about skankville Vols!



  7. Michael
    4:19 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    Amen, Matt. Ignore detractors. People who take time to be critical online often have pretty miserable lives. Always take consolation in that.



  8. Big O
    4:21 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    Welcome to the SEC!! 3 and out!!!



  9. cayts
    4:22 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    That’s a Bearup jersey.



  10. RICK
    4:22 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    Good post Matt, #1 and #2 go back to sleep and dont forget your bottle.



  11. BeerCanChicken
    4:23 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    Check on http://www.wildcatnation.net for a family friendly UK Sports Forum! You’ll also find the link on the right side of the KSR Front Page.

    Go Cats, Beat Portland!



  12. UKBlue
    4:27 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    On paper compared to what everyone else has hired, we stole Stoops. Of course naysayers don’t believe because well this is UK football. It’s going to take him a couple years to fix Joker mess & to get his guys on the team, but on paper, this was a huge hire.



  13. SERIOUS
    4:27 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    So is the ACC a strong conference or not? I cannot get past all the bologne that someone left off their sandwich…

    Kentucky-tier candidates: Haha, puts it all in perspective…



  14. Bradley
    4:28 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    Great job Mitch! Way to answer the phone!



  15. SERIOUS
    4:28 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    13 – That’s is correct. UK stole Stoops’ Little Brutha.



  16. Random dude
    4:31 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    Or maybe, just maybe, Stoops is a really good hire and Matt thinks Mitch did a great job. Maybe.



  17. JLivermore
    4:31 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    “Even though he has yet to coach a game or even have a practice…Kentucky has a coach that is arguably on the level of the better programs that were also looking…Barnhart found the one coach that could heal the divide and unify the Kentucky faithful towards the future.”

    Wow. Matt has just Stoopified me.



  18. dave
    4:32 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    malzahn’s career isnt based solely on cam newton:
    –33rd in total YPG & 23rd in PPG in 1st year as arky OC
    –10th in PPG & 1st in YPG in 1st year as tulsa OC
    –20th in PPG & 21st in YPG in 1st year as aub OC (without cam)
    –21 in PPG & 17th in YPG in 1st year as arky st HC
    not even a malzahn, arky, aub, etc fan but come on man. why not say he “just rolls the ball out there in practice”



  19. oooh ooooh How's this...
    4:33 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    UT “Butch-ered” their search!



  20. Lol
    4:36 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    21 – you’re so punny



  21. Hacksaw
    4:39 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    I have to agree with Matt on this one and Mitch has done a very nice job with our Athletic Dept. He has made some real nice hires and for us to even be in the running for the the best Sears Cup is amazing. People might not like his personality and that is fine but he has our athletic department at its best place in history. I have been following KY sports for 40 years and we can be proud of where we are. I know football has been off for three years but proir to that we had a solid 6 years of success. Those of you who do not see this need to go back and look at the previous AD’s and what they produced with all our sports and its not even close. Mitch deserves credits for the following, Cal, Brooks,Womens Basketball(Mitchell) Volleyball, Baseball( was dead for 30 years prior),Tennis, Softball, Soccer, Rifle,and Golf. If you don’t see this then go back and look at the history books they dont lie



  22. Sammydog
    4:41 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    Mitch’s coaching search and hiring process were masterful when compared with some of the others. Considering the state of our program I never thought we would be able to get someone with as much promise as Coach Stoops. However, I have always thought Mitch was a much better AD than our previous “good old boy” AD’s. Yes, his personality could use improvement but the man goes about his job with class and integrity unlike that other AD up the road. Nothing will change the opinion of fans that hate him. He could have hired Nick Saban and that group of fans would have found something wrong with it. Good job Mitch. I am glad you are our AD.



  23. UKBlue
    4:43 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    Why does everyone always think Matt because he says something positive or negative that you may or may not agree or disagree with is up Barnhart ass? If you don’t like Matt, KSR, Mitch, yourself, or UK why do you put yourself through the torment of commenting on any of these things? What does that say about you !! The BNN has passionate fans, but we also have a tremendous amount of idiots. If you don’t like UK, Cal, Mitch, Stoops, Matt or KSR, go follow some other team, sports blog or someone who will always agree with you. If you don’t like yourself, well that’s your f’ing problem !!



  24. BigBluSoTru
    4:43 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    Would you rather have a proven coach ie Bobby P or Fl.st d-cordinator that be like taking a bb gun on a safari.



  25. BigBluSoTru
    4:46 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    What did the fb program have to lose with hiring Bobby not a dam thing. We were losers have always been bottom feeders who would have ostersized us for it.



  26. crankytankers
    4:53 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    You are all wrong! Bob Stoops will definitely bring UK up to the top of the Big Ten and win the Tostitos Fiesta Super Bowl!!!!



  27. sonny lesbos
    4:56 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    26-very good point.
    so why havent auburn, UT, NCst, cal, col, usf, southern miss, fiu, wisc, la tech, temple, cincy hired him yet???



  28. BillyGillispie
    4:57 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    Wait until Stoops has coached at UK for three years…then see what everyone has to say about him.



  29. Punter U
    5:17 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    I wonder if Barnhart has to wash his balls after Matt sucks on them?

    I seem to remember a similar feeling in the fan base after Gillespie was hired as well. I’m not saying Stoops won’t win, I think he likely will if the administration/legislature supports him, but there’s no reason to pretend he’s the second coming of Vince Lombardi.



  30. BigBluSoTru
    5:19 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    Well it’s obvious that Mr.obvious, brought it wow ksr! it’s like the one kid doesn’t like the other kid getting all the friends and takes his toys back lol!



  31. Dr. Funke
    5:19 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    Exactly… We have no idea whether this was a good hire or not. And so far we haven’t gotten any of the OCs we wanted, so speak for yourself matt.



  32. Excuse Me
    5:24 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    There have been 31 comments to this article so far of which none have ranked the beautiful young ladies above. What is this site coming to?



  33. I'll do the honors 32
    5:31 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    3,2,1,4



  34. jaxcats8503
    5:32 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    UK t-shirt only over swimsuit one of the most underrated looks. HOT!



  35. bluristhurr
    5:35 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    #24 You’re stupid



  36. CAUKFAN
    5:45 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    34 – SUPER HOT!!!!



  37. CAUKFAN
    5:47 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    3,4,1,2



  38. lexslamman
    6:20 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    #1 above is a friend of mine. Photo does not do her justice.



  39. tyson
    6:25 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    23) because when Matt has had the chance to criticize Mitch he and the rest of BSR (Barnhart Sports Radio) passed on the opportunity, i.e. when Mitch claimed that the “real fans” were the only ones still showing up in the stands during our wreck of a season. This site 2 years ago would have BLASTED Mitch about that. But since Matt gets info from Mitch and the assistant basketball coaches, he gives them a pass.

    This post was another fluff piece. I am for the hire of Stoops and glad he came. But as others have pointed out, he hasn’t coached a game. Let’s give him a couple of seasons before we declare this the best hire out of the SEC.



  40. line 4
    7:01 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    I completely agree #39



  41. BlueDoug46
    7:17 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    I am forever amazed at how our fan base supposedly the number one fan base in the country turns on each other so quickly. IN the name of Rodney King (may he rest in peace), “cant we all just get along”?

    Let me tell you what guys I for one am THANKFUL for Matt Jones. I live in Louisville, in the enemies back yard and Matt and Drew and Gang have been a welcomed edition to our city. I read KSR at least 3 times per day. Some of you all are too young to realize how stupid you are. You dont know the history of the program, and the many many poor football hires we have made as an SEC school. This is one of the two hires that gets me excited. Papa Brooks we all grew to love, but noone was excited about him. I am VERY excited about the Stoops hire. We do have a chance to leap frog UT on an annual basis and i think Mizzou (now what about that vandy crew?)Barnhart takes a ton of criticism but very few of you all even know what your talking about, and the true inside reasons on why anything is done. I pit myself in that category,but I am wise enough to refrain from making stupid commenst until I have the fact. THAT is something alof of you all need to learn before you attack your WildCat brother of sister. Save your venom for Louisville and UT and Duke our TRUE rivals. Matt Jones and Barnhart are one of us!



  42. BlueDoug46
    7:20 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    Oh and I like ALL of the pretty young co-eds , and could whip all of the four skinny-ass boys in the picture at once!



  43. UK Freshmen
    7:48 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    ‘….a coach ready and determined…’ Really? How so?



  44. chuckdog
    7:54 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    read this site everyday….love it….4,3,2 1



  45. tyson
    7:55 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    41) You could be part of the problem. Did you criticize Mitch and Joker this year, or were you content in just wallowing in mediocrity because Mitch said to do so? I came to Lexington during the Curry years. I was friends with Billy Jack Haskins and a few other of the Tilghman guys on the team during the early/mid 90s. I know how bad it was. That doesn’t mean that I am not going to level criticism when it is deserved. Mitch and Joker deserved it this year.

    As for this site, I won’t go so far as to say Matt has sold out, but it is definitely not the same site it was just a short time ago. Tyler and Ally are very good writers. Drew still comes up with some good posts. And Matt occasionally has a well thought out post. But it is not delivered in “the most ridiculous manner possible” anymore. Matt is too inside now and doesn’t want to ruffle feathers. I still come to the site. It is a great site for UK sports info. But it is not the same site it used to be.



  46. JJ
    8:51 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    I am a fan of KSR and love both the blog site and the radio show. However, I feel very disappointed to see you write this post. It is fine to show your opitimisim about the hiring of Stoops and the buzz currently around the football program. However you act like a tool of Barnhart when you write a post like this one. Sure, Barnhart rightly deserves credit for listening to Stoops and making the hire. Seeing how things went for Tennessee, firing Joker two weeks earlier made a difference. However, you need to balance that praise with vigorous crtiticism of Barnhart for insulting the BBN fanbase after the UK-Vandy game. By failing to do so, you lose all credibility. You look like Barnhart’s tool and to only care about keeping your UK press passes. You disappoint many in BBN with such behavior.



  47. JJ
    8:56 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    Matt Jones: I am a fan of KSR and love both the blog site and the radio show. However, I feel very disappointed to see you write this post. It is fine to show your opitimisim about the hiring of Stoops and the buzz currently around the football program. However you act like a tool of Barnhart when you write a post like this one. Sure, Barnhart rightly deserves credit for listening to Stoops and making the hire. Seeing how things went for Tennessee, firing Joker two weeks earlier made a difference. However, you need to balance that praise with vigorous crtiticism of Barnhart for insulting the BBN fanbase after the UK-Vandy game. By failing to do so, you lose all credibility. You look like Barnhart’s tool and to only care about keeping your UK press passes. You disappoint many in BBN with such behavior.



  48. BNClay
    8:58 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    You guys can gripe about Matt kissing Mitch’s butt all you want but he is right on this one. Stoops was at least as good a hire as Malzahn or Belleini. Belleini inherited a good situation and rode out a bad year even for the big 10 this year to another Rose Bowl. History has taught us Big 10 > SEC all day every day.



  49. JJ
    9:09 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    Matt: I will change my mind about you if you press Barnhart to explain his “Real Fans” and “Agenda” comments made after the UK-Vandy game the next time you interview him one-on-one. If you do not take the chance to press for answers during the next interview, it confirms you are Barnhart’s tool.



  50. BBB
    9:49 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    I have to say Mitch made the second best hire he could have. The best football coach out there was Petrino hands down. I wanted him because he is the only guy that I think could overcome 60 years of pretty much substandard, noncommital from the leadership, football.I like the Stoops hire. He was second choice in my view. But I have no confidence he will take us past 7-5. I really hope he does. In the meantime, there is undeniable excitement in the program, which is absolutely necessary for any success.
    We may have 4 years of reasonable improvement with the fruit of Jokers work with the young players. After that it is all up in the air. Matt is putting on the best air he can I think with this post….but Mitch is still questionable and Matt walks a tightrope I think.



  51. Roland
    11:04 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    #50 Petrino was probably the Best coach out there. No one in the SEC was willing to give him a chance. NO ONE.
    When you are a person who will lie to anyone’s face. That is a definition on self intercourse.



  52. Roland
    11:16 pm December 7, 2012 Permalink

    most coaches can lose a job and the media offers them a talking head job. Will Petrino be talking head.?



  53. Get it done Ryan
    12:56 am December 8, 2012 Permalink

    I really don’t care about how our coach stacks up against others. He is our coach. Let him be the best coach for UK who cares about other schools. If he does what we all think he can the rest will take care of its self. If not, on to the next. We have to many problems of our own to fix to worry about other schools.



  54. tyson
    2:01 am December 8, 2012 Permalink

    What 46 said



  55. Beavis
    7:44 am December 8, 2012 Permalink

    The only praise I can give Barnfart ,,,,he had the good sense to listen to the pitch Stoops made for the job. If Stoops had not shown interest would our AD have had him on the short list ? I like the hire but lets not give old Mitch to much credit.



  56. redandyz
    10:23 am December 8, 2012 Permalink

    Let me tell you all something from the perspective of fan of Indiana football fan. It does not MATTER as much WHO the coach is as much as the CULTURE that is developed around it. Example: Indiana hired Kevin Wilson a few years ago. He came in as one of if not the best offensive coordinators in the country, coming from the high powered Oklahoma/Bob Stoops teams. He, like Mark Stoops, was heralded as the savior. IU committed trucks full of money for him to get top notch assistant coaches and coordinators, and he has gone out and done that. But, what hasn’t happened – and what UK fans should realize – is that changing the culture of a program takes time. I say be excited about Coach Stoops, because even as a fan of a rival team I think the Stoops hire was incredible. I am just saying don’t get your picks and torches after another 2 or 3 win season. Indiana’s coach Wilson won 1 game the first season and dismissed about 20 players for misc issues or they quit. He won 4 games this season, and probably should have won 6 or 7. He is returning a ton of players from a team that lost their starting QB very early on. The defense is improving and getting more experienced….. I actually like Stoops, and would like for you all to give the guy a chance, because the cultural swing takes time.