I’m sure Hasbro is just thrilled with all this publicity.
We’re just a few hours from being spurned by Derek Kief, wide receiver out of Ohio, but the exhilaration of the last week is still rushing through the Bluegrass. With 4-star commits coming in seemingly by the day, and our national recruiting ranking inching upward toward that top spot, I don’t think there’s any Kentucky fan in the state that isn’t excited about football. And that’s borderline unprecedented.
We’ve got talented players, a hardworking staff, and a new catchphrase that’s not nearly as fun to type as it is to shout. Things under Mark Stoops are going much better than anyone ever anticipated. A co-worker recently told me that, at the time of the hiring, he was hoping Mitch Barnhart would go for Mike Leach instead of Stoops. Given that same choice now, between Leach or Stoops? “Stoops.” Hard to disagree. With all this rapid success rushing to our heads like a brainfreeze, though, it’s fair to ask:
Is this the most fun we’ll ever experience in football recruiting?
Let’s look at basketball recruiting for a second. That, we know, is something we do well. Remember when Cal was first hired, and he brought Cousins over from Memphis? And then do you remember the breathtaking wait for John Wall to announce after what felt like forever? Or remember when BCG was brought on, and even though that didn’t end well, he started with a bang by getting Patrick Patterson to pick us over Florida. Those were some very exciting, very nerve-wracking times.
Fast forward two years, and basketball recruiting is almost boring. Let me be clear: the classes are amazing. The talent level brought in is unprecedented by any other program in college basketball history. That many don’t stay very long is the only thing keeping Kentucky from making other schools take their ball and go home before the season even starts. There is so much implicit faith that Cal will bring in talented classes, that we don’t get worked up about it like we used to, even a few years ago. Earlier today, I pointed out that the three-player package in 2014 deal was probably leaning toward Duke. And while I’d like those kids to sign with Kentucky (they’re all solid), it won’t break my heart if they don’t. Because Coach Cal will bring in other talented players. He’s built the program, and they will come.
Football at UK is in a very different spot. The recruiting has gone from apathetic to almost feverish, and the results are something that shock loyal fans. Drew Barker is the best QB commit in a decade. We just nabbed the #1 all purpose running back. We’re in contention, for at least a little while, for the top recruiting class in the country. In basketball, that’s ho-hum. In football, that’s mind-boggling.
BleacherReport’s Vinny Hardy made a similar remark hidden in his musings on the silliness of Stoops’ recruiting:
If Coach Stoops keeps this up, there will be a time when the giddiness subsides and everyone is just coolly excited about each incoming recruiting class.
While the recruiting under Stoops could still improve, hypothetically, it’s this rapid change from lap-dog to top-dog that’s causing such a stir. Either we get used to the success (hopefully), or it goes away and we’re back to square one.
The bottom line is this: regular seasons might be progressively more fun for years to come, but this might be the best offseason we’ll ever have. Enjoy it while we can.