Talk is cheap to Mark Stoops. He would much rather go and do something about it. Friday afternoon we learned that applies to more than what happens in-between the white lines.
Ahead of the Citrus Bowl, James Franklin talked. Mark Stoops waited until they played 60 minutes of football, then he got in the final word. “Don’t anyone question who the real Blue and White is,” he said shortly after accepting the Citrus Bowl trophy.
Mark Stoops has never been and never will be a big talker. Unlike the other big coach on campus, he does not thrive behind a podium in front of a big audience. He’ll share his message without any fluff, then go about his business. About once a year he’ll throw us a bone with a new phrase like, “we’re just knocking down doors” and let his team’s actions do the rest of the talking for him.
As protests broke out across the country, like many other college coaches, Stoops released a statement on social media. Something needed to be said, but not everyone needs to say something. During this tumultuous time in our country, different people process emotions in different ways. Instead of protesting or posting on social media, one might just take the time to listen to another’s perspective.
Closing in on almost a decade as a leader in the University of Kentucky community, Stoops responded the best way he knew how — by taking action.
Wearing a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt, he led dozens of players of coaches through downtown Lexington to the county courthouse. Along with his actions, Stoops did have a new phrase to share that reflects what he believes: “Everybody needs to get off the bench.”
“We’re here to fight racism, to bring awareness, and to do our part,” Stoops said. “I think most of you know me, I keep things pretty tight to the vest with the media, but there’s no more of that on this issue. Everybody needs to get off the bench and make a difference, stand for something. We’re not going to tolerate any more racism and social problems. We want to make a difference and be a part of the solution. That’s why we’re here.”
Not all leaders use the same tools to spread their message. If everyone was a preacher, who would fill the pews? Mark Stoops is leading by example when it matters most.