Just perusing through some of the record books the other day and it struck me that if Mark Stoops can finish 6-4 this season, he will finally crack the .500 mark as the UK football coach. Now that isn’t something you should celebrate with too much gusto but at Kentucky, it’s more of an accomplishment than you might think. For the coaches who have been here since World War 2, here are the ones above and below .500 for their career with the Cats:
ABOVE .500: Bear Bryant, Blanton Collier
BELOW .500: Bernie Shivley, Charlie Bradshaw, John Ray, Fran Curci, Jerry Clairborne, Bill Curry, Hal Mumme, Guy Morris, Rich Brooks, Joker Phillips
That’s right, since Blanton Collier left in 1961, not a single UK coach has finished his career at Kentucky with a winning record. And only 2 out of 12 have done it since World War 2. And we hold several of those guys in high regard. And they still walked off that field as losers more often than winners. That is crazy.
Well, Mark Stoops currently sits at 44-44 in his UK career. He’s done it all under a far more competitive overall league than in the 1970’s and before. He’s done it all facing recruiting challenges. And budget challenges. And coaching turnover. And he’s done it all while taking over a program in shambles. He’s led UK to four straight bowls and one of the best seasons in UK history. And he almost surely is the best recruiter in school history.
So if the world ended today, wouldn’t we call Mark Stoops the second best coach in school history? Sure, we want more. Sure, and SEC East title is the ultimate goal. Sure, beating Tennessee and Florida and Georgia regularly would be great. But even without those things, isn’t he the 2nd best coach, behind Bear Bryant, in school history?
Just some food for thought as we head into this season. Are we witnessing a historic era of UK football?