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“We have a moment in time for Kentucky football”

This morning, Mitch Barnhart sat down with Matt for his first radio interview since hiring Mark Stoops. Barnhart opened up about the decision, including the moment he knew it was time to make a change, the qualities he looked for in a new coach, and what’s next for the football program. Here are the highlights of the conversation:

— Mitch said that he knew for certain that it was time for change after the 40-0 loss to Vanderbilt on November 3rd: “At that point, the disintegration of the fan support became difficult for us to manage in terms of finances and the program. It became apparent after the Vandy game that we were not goign to get to a spot that we wanted to get to emotionally, and we had to move on.”

— Mitch began the search by confiding in DeWayne Peevy, Mark Hill (executive associate athletic director, formerly the strength coach), and President Capilouto. The criteria?

1) Defensive improvement — “You will not continually outscore people in this league. At the end of the day, you have to play some defense.”

2) Recruiting — Mitch cited Ohio and Florida as recruiting areas the program wants to expand in, and said they considered candidates’ connections in those areas.

3) Genuine interest in the program — “I wanted someone who wasn’t going to play games with Kentucky.”

— From there, Barnhart had a list of six interested candidates, including Mark Stoops. After seeing that Florida State had a Thursday night game against Virginia Tech on November 8th, Barnhart contacted Stoops to see if he would be interested in meeting in Atlanta the weekend between the basketball team’s games against Maryland and Duke. The two met Saturday morning, and Stoops came with a plan for how Kentucky could succeed in the SEC. Mitch said Stoops did his research on the program, including depth charts, stats, etc. However, maybe the most impressive thing that Stoops did was show a genuine interest in the university, telling Mitch “you’re the school I’m focused on.”

— After the meeting, Stoops continued to “recruit Kentucky.” Barnhart said that Stoops would often text him after men’s basketball and women’s basketball victories and that every time they talked, Stoops “always had a line” to end the conversation, including “I’ve got G and I’m sitting on O. Let’s go!”

— It worked. Mitch decided to go with Stoops the weekend before the announcement.

— On Bobby Petrino: “Coach Petrino is a good football coach, no question about that…that was not a path I wanted to go down. That doesn’t mean I don’t think people should have second chances, I just didn’t want that second chance to come with our program.

— Mark Stoops apparently came to Mitch with a list of potential offensive coordinators, including the “Air Raid disciples,” namely Neal Brown. Stoops said that at Kentucky, “you’ve gotta get to the edges to compete in the SEC. You can’t run between the tackles and expect to win at Kentucky, at least not now.”

— On improving the football facilities: “There are two things we want to do: improve the fan experience to make it a cool thing to come to Commonwealth Stadium instead of watching on the flat screen at home and making sure our players have a competitive environment they can get better in.”

— Will this be the year the program gets the much-needed bonding capacity from the Legislature? Mitch says he wants to seize the moment: “I don’t know timelines, but I do know this: we have a moment in time for Kentucky football. We’ve got some enthusiasm going with Mark, which is very helpful to us. We have players coming back, which is helpful to us. We’ve got some quarterbacks we can shape the offense around…We have a window of time to make a run at this thing, and I don’t want to miss that.

We’ll have the podcast for you shortly…

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

50 Comments for “We have a moment in time for Kentucky football”

  1. Dee
    12:01 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink


  2. PanhandleCat
    12:08 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    Finally! Someone who understands “Up the middle and squish” is a terrible play for KY.

    Thank you for a wonderful interview, Matthew. Outstanding job!

  3. Southbound
    12:16 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    I predict we will win at least one game this next year that we are not suppose to. Stoop’s 4-3 D that depends on a lot of zone is not a difficult defense to learn and we have some players that will fit in nicely. Our DBs and LBs just have to figure out the spacing and let their athleticism take care of the grey areas of a zone.

    Plus our smaller scat type backs that have been forced to run up the middle will find some room on the edges. Not to mention the talent we have at QB and WR.

    In recruiting if we can shore up some solid DE and DT prospects for the future we could get this thing rolling and bowling again.

  4. Dee
    12:21 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    2….AMEN!!!! All around…..

  5. Dee
    12:21 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    7 wins next year….seriously. (if we stay healthy)

  6. HeshimuEvans'2ndGradeTeacher
    12:21 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    I’ve been screaming the Ohio thing for yrs now, especially Cincy. It’s about an hour and a half drive up 75, you have no idea how much talent is up here. Too many good athletes settling for smaller D1 schools in Ohio. Come get em, Mark!

  7. Foot the F'n Ball
    12:22 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    Season tickets for sale yet?

  8. Unboltedharp
    12:24 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    Finally a coach who gets it! I bet we see some enthusiasm from this group of coaches!!

  9. Eff
    12:28 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    #5 put down the kool aid. Assuming UK can beat the 3 supposed patsy opponents (WKU will be favored in the season opener) and muster a win vs. UofL, then what 3 SEC teams are we going to beat? Vandy (beat us 40-0)? UT (37-17 loss)? Bama (puleeze)? UGA (nope)? USC (nope)?

    I appreciate your enthusiasm. Reality though, would suggest 4-8 in Stoops first year. And UK fans should be happy with that. 5-7 would be a near miracle.

  10. what
    12:29 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    has anyone figured out the G on O statement?

  11. East Kentucky Infidel
    12:35 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    #10 G & O GO!! As opposed to wait and see

  12. Finally Frank
    12:36 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    Mr Barnhart also stated that Coach Stoops told him he was 10-0 in rivalry games, with a recent loss to Florida he is 10-1. Outstanding!!! But in reality he is 7-4 in his last 11 rivalry games and 17-9 lifetime in such games. While still a respectable record, I hope this this not the start of something bad.

  13. Stoopid
    12:36 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    Uh Imma say Cayuts by fifty biggins against dem stinky birds next yur.

  14. Stoooops
    12:36 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    9 why is GA a definite no? They only beat us by 5 this year. We’ve been knocking on the upset door w them for years, it’s time to go thru!

  15. SexnNursinHomes
    12:37 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    10- The G stands for “rollin kilo Gs”

    The O stands for “Ounce”.

    Hope this helps.

  16. Cards
    12:38 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    Yo Cayuts, ain’t no way you sukaz be beatin us Cawds this yur. L yeah boyyeeee

  17. Dee
    12:45 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    9.IF….we beat UL….we will win 7 games next year….I’ll be willing to put money where my mouth is too….(yes…that’s a BIG IF…but…I think we will)

    12:46 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    #5 Put down the bong and bourbon….it’s waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to early to talk nonsense. 4-8 will be a miricle.

  19. Amaze Pants
    12:46 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    I’ve got F and I’m sitting on U.
    (Just saying what everyone’s thinking.)

  20. Joe Mama
    12:49 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    Football season?

  21. eff
    12:54 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    #14 The game is at Georgia. Loss. #17 Your optimism is refreshing… but delusional. Trying to figure out a way to take your beat. Would you be willing to put $1,000 on that straight up? over/under 7 games. I’ll take under. Stoops may be the next Vince Lombardi, but he won’t have his own players for a couple years, some current players may still yet transfer, new offense and defensive will be implemented. I’m not saying he won’t improve UK’s football fortunes. I am absolutely saying it won’t happen in 1 year.

  22. eff
    12:55 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    LOL, I meant “bet” in #21, not “beat”.

  23. Dee
    12:56 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    9. WINS-WKU, Miami, UL*, Alabama St., Vandy, Missouri,and one or two of this group *if we beat UL (Tennessee, Georgia, Miss. St)….I’m telling ya….it will happen.

  24. Dee
    12:58 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    if we lose to UL….we win 4 games.

  25. RICK
    1:03 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    I will say 4 wins next year maybe 5 and i will be ok with that. Then the next year 7 or 8. I fell good about the future .

  26. 84Cat
    1:03 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    November 3, 2012: On the pre-game show with Tom Leach this morning, Mitch Barnhart addressed the low attendance by thanking the “real fans” for coming to the game and said that those who are critical of Joker must have “personal agendas.”

    So the Vandy game on Nov 3 was the turning point for Mitch. Good for him… thousands of fans realized it sooner and he implied they were racists. Still waiting on an apology (which will probably never come).

  27. Musehobo
    1:04 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    I’m sorry, but I have to disagree about defense. Defense is what a team that wants to stay consistently good works on. It’s very important to be a contender in the NCAA or NFL to be good at defense. But if your hope is to knock off the crappy teams you play, and steal a win or two from teams that are from head to toe better than you, then a gimmicky, explosive offense is the way to go. Brown should hopefully bring that explosive offense. But I don’t really buy the idea that we need a D-minded coach.

  28. eff
    1:08 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    #23 so, a loss to UofL means a 3 game swing (counting UofL itself)? Not sure I understand that logic. All I can say is that UK better be ready for game #1 vs. WKU and not worry about the rest. You think maybe Petrino wants a little vindication vs. an SEC team? Guarantee you Bobby P is already game planning this one. I applaud the replacement of Joker, but seriously, is that going to make up 40 points on Vandy? 33-10 loss to Mizzou pretty convincing too. You are setting yourself up for a big letdown. Give Stoops and staff a total pass for next year. Predicting 7 wins in year one of his new SEC job when none of these coaches have coached in the SEC is a joke.

  29. Stoooops
    1:09 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    21 I’m not saying we will beat GA but it’s not as far-out as you are making it seem. Last time we played there – year before last – we lost by 9. They have not been killing us like everyone else. Again, not saying we will win, but not saying it’s a given loss either.

  30. true stat
    1:11 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    In seven games against ranked teams during Stoops’ three seasons as Florida State defensive coordinator, the Seminoles gave up 418 yards and 34.3 points a contest. You play a lot of ranked teams in the Southeastern Conference.

  31. SPB
    1:13 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    12,Frank, I dont know what you mean by “something bad”. Do you think he lied on his resume’? That was just a comment made by an AD to get the fans fired up.

  32. eff
    1:17 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    #29 I agree UGA has not been killing UK, only beating us with regularity. I think the reason UK is competitive vs. UGA is because we have a lot of Georgia kids on our roster that want to show well against the home state school. Okay, so we put the UGA game on the fence. Still say 4-8 is rosy prediction, 5-7 gets Stoops coach of the year, even though it will only be 1 or 2 SEC wins. LOL

  33. UKBlue
    1:18 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    Mitch realized it before the season even started, he just had to let the train wreck play out. He pretty much said so with his come ask me if we have 2 wins statement. The WKU game was confirmation Joker was getting fired & the Vandy game was confirmation he had made the right decision. There was no way on God green earth a realistic AD could have gone into the season thinking we had a chance.

    It’s going to be really funny when UL fans wake up to the headlines that FSU, Clemson, Miami, Vir Tech have left the ACC with UNC & Duke not too far behind, and they once again realize they joined another dead conference.

  34. Finally Frank
    1:23 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    33, Do you have information that no one else in the country has? What conference are they going to? When are they leaving? Is the SEC going to a 20 team conference? You seem to know an awful lot. Please share your wisdom.

  35. Joe
    1:27 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    Please share your wisdom.

    I’ve read that UNC and Duke wish to leave the ACC, don’t know if that’s wisdom enough, Frank. Is it true, I don’t know, but I have read it….I understand they’d like to go to the SEC or another conference…a big-money conference.

  36. Finally Frank
    1:28 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    31, When comments are made on a show as big as Matt’s people are going to “fact check”. I am not saying he did any thing inappropiate. It may in fact have been hyperbole, but again, I was excited about such a gleaming record against rivals only to find out it just was not true.

  37. Finally Frank
    1:36 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    35, I think it would be great if Loserville got caught without a conference again. Where did you read this? I would love to stick it to them. But from what I underdtand, Coach K was calling the shots in the ACC. He, being the one that insisted on Syracuse and Pittsburgh being added, for the sake of basketball, with FSU and Clemson insisting on Loserville for football over UConn.

  38. Jean Jerseys
    1:39 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    UNCheat and Dook will not leave the North Carolina love fest they have in the ACC with NC state/Wake. From what I have seen from ACC/SEC/BIG10 message boards:

    1)F$U, Klempson leave first to big 12. This happens after Maryland lowers the $50 mil exit fee. Florida and USC prevent them from SEC.
    2)VT, NC State to SEC. NC state want out of ACC because of overbearing Duke and UNC. SEC wants into DC market and VT will do that for them. NC State will give them North Carolina market which they covet too.
    3)UVA and UNC (maybe duke or GT) go to Big 10. unc and duke try to go becuase they realize ACC will be no longer as they know it and is falling apart.
    4)Miami and maybe GT try to go to Big 12.

  39. Joe
    1:52 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    But from what I underdtand, Coach K was calling the shots in the ACC. Money calls the shots in Conferences, not coaches…and IF the ACC is like the SEC it’s FOOTBALL money, not Basketball money, that counts. So, assuming those things to be true, Coach K, like him or hate him, is not likely to be as dominant as you make out.

    As to where I read it, I believe I read it on this site, several places, though, to be fair, I can’t make a citation.

  40. tyson
    2:09 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    26) I didn’t get to listen to the radio show, but I assume that Matt, owner of Barhnhart Sports Radio, did not ask Mitch anything pertaining to those statements. Am I correct?

  41. Watch out Arkansas fans...
    2:18 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    BBN trying to give you a run for your front row seat on the delusional train…

  42. UKBlue1!
    2:29 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    UK won’t win enough to become bowl eligible next year. There is not enough talent to win 6 games. IF coach Stoops is able to win 4 games he will have done a good job. Barnharts comments about Petrino/2nd chances are hilarious. Petrino was the best coach available. I think he might have done ok with our hire but the BEST would have been Petrino.

  43. Joe
    2:33 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    I think he might have done ok with our hire but the BEST would have been Petrino.

    Please give it a rest. And no, the BEST hire was NOT Petrino. Petrino is where he needs and deserves to be…at a non-BCS Conference School, rehabilitating his reputation.

    WKU made a very good hire….IF, Ricky Bobby was willing to come to UK for ~750K he might have been a fit, but then you’d have guaranteed his flight within a a year or so.

    At Western he must demonstrate some on and off -field qualities he’s been lacking in. Let’s hope it works out for Petrino and Western.

  44. Jean Jersey
    2:40 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    Like Joe said, its all about the money.

    FSU and Clemson not happy at all with the $$ amount on the new ESPN contract for the ACC. They want out. GT is hurting for $$$$ too I believe but probably won’t leave first. Once Maryland lowers the ACC exit fee, FSU and Clemson will leave for greener pastures in the BIG 12 where the money will be greater. Then the ACC will start to crumble with conferences grabbing teams to get to 16 members.

  45. Jean Jersey
    2:42 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    and U of L will be stuck in crumbling ACC or get picked up by Big 12 haha.

  46. 84Cat
    2:53 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    Tyson, you are correct. Nothing was said about it… and never will be.

  47. Dee
    3:07 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    Yes…the UofL game is that important…the winner of that game….has a great season…the loser…SUCKS…(go check it out….every year excluding the inital game….this is true)…

  48. Duke sucks
    4:28 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    #28) Thank you for being a realistic fan! To many are like 47 and drinking way to much Koolaid. We change coaches and they think all is well in the BBN. Our players aren’t that good, I know that hurts feelings but that’s a fact. Joker tanked the program we have been recruiting MAC players for 3 years, we have the same players who won 2 games last year. The only reason the UGA game was close was because They didn’t take us serious, that team was a top 5 team that will beat us by 20 this year. Dee if you think we will win 7 next year you are going to have hurt feelings. Stoops is a coach he can’t walk on water!

  49. Duke sucks
    4:35 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    47 funny how you want to leave out the year we didn’t win anther game. By reading your post I can tell you are a sunshine pumper. Aren’t you the same one who was on here supporting Joker right up till the end?? How could you support Joker then say a different coach can come in and win with his team? Kinda hypocritical don’t you think?? You talk of betting, I bet you have never played on a team in your life?

  50. So so hire
    7:01 pm December 18, 2012 Permalink

    43 really? Do you think this is a destination job for Stoops? Stoops will use this job hopefully as a stepping stone to a better job! That’s fine it’s a win win for everyone.
    I don’t understand your logic Petrino has led 2 programs to a BCS game and top 5 in the final standings. Hell he left both programs with top 5 teams. It’s not his fault that the next coaches screwed that up.
    I’m ok with Stoops and think he will do a good job, but don’t try to convince me he was the best option.petrino didn’t get the job because he’s a prick not because he wasn’t the best available