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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: The Benefits of Being a 1st-Year Head Coach

I have to be honest, and I know it is not the greatest emotion to feel, but I envy Mark Stoops.  I truly am jealous of him.  Not just for the obvious things.  The fact he’s a millionaire or soon to be a millionaire.  And the fact he coaches college football for a living.  We should all be jealous of that.  But no, what I am really jealous of is that for his first year on a new job, Stoops will very likely get a free pass for failures and extreme praise for his successes.  And that is one of the great benefits to being a first year coach, especially at a rebuilding project like Kentucky is right now.  Let’s take the Western Kentucky game for a second.  A game that is certainly competitive on paper, especially considering last year’s result.  So, let’s go through what the fan reaction will be with either a win or loss on Saturday:


-Great start to the Stoops era.  Stoops shows an already improved squad from last year.  Lost to WKU last year, beat them this year, already an improvement.  And then whichever unit performs well will also add additional credit for Stoops and staff.  And to be honest, all of this would be close to legitimate.  A win in the first game, especially against a team that beat UK last year, shows an already improved team.  To beat a team on a “road” field against a bowl team that can beat you would be a nice early feather in the cap.  But, on the other side of the coin…….


-Just a rebuilding project.  This is a 2-4 year process.  WKU won’t ever beat us after this year.  Joker Phillips left Stoops with no talent.  The players are still learning a new system.  Gotta weed out the old players and get in all of Stoops’ guys.  I find it hard to believe that if Kentucky lost to WKU on Saturday that a complaint would be the coaching of Mark Stoops.  And that’s understandable.  All of these excuses above are fine.  It is true that Joker Phillips did not exactly leave a great situation for Stoops.  And it is true that the future looks bright for Kentucky football.  But my one question is this: if we are going to give the head coach complete credit for a win, with the same players against the same opponent, why does he completely get a pass on a loss?

I have full faith that Mark Stoops is going to get Kentucky back to a bowl very shortly.  In fact, just a couple weeks ago I argued that is going to happen next season when the schedule lightens up.  But I am struck this year by how many fans have so little expectations, both for the team and the coach.  Are we just completely giving this season a pass, no matter the results?  I know for me, that is tough to do.  But for many, it seems that because of the great recruiting and potential, the 2013 season will become an afterthought.  And I also see now why it can be so great to be a 1st-year coach at a rebuilding program.  Succeed and it’s all you.  Fail and it’s all the previous guy.

It could be said for Guy Morris, who took over a probation riddled program from Hal Mumme.  And the same for Rich Brooks, who was feeling the full force of sanctions when he took over.  Joker Phillips, on the other hand, took over a successful program and it declined, meaning he didn’t get the benefit of the doubt the other choaches got and that Stoops will get this year.

And for that, I envy you, Mark Stoops.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

8 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: The Benefits of Being a 1st-Year Head Coach

  1. asdf
    9:12 am August 28, 2013 Permalink

    Coaching is no different than politics, really. When the economy improves, look how good I did. When the economy fails to improve, it’s all the last guy’s fault.

  2. Bobbysueflay
    9:46 am August 28, 2013 Permalink

    Bti. If your struck by how many fans have low expectations for this team, that just means you have no clue about football. This freshman class is mainly jokers and the best ones stoops brought in. A coach can only do so much with the talent they are given. Joker left him with no wrs, cb, lb, etc. you don’t know what your talking about

  3. RealCatsFan
    10:03 am August 28, 2013 Permalink

    Well BTI, all I can say is if you envy Mark Stoops, then you must REALLY envy Charlie Strong. Strong stepped into a program that was in similar shape to UK this year, but instead of playing the SEC murderer’s row like Stoops, Charlie got to play cupcake after cupcake to build up his W/L record. He then managed to put together a team that was skilled enough to beat a Florida team that was obviously ill-prepared mentally for its bowl game. Not to take anything away from Charlie Strong – he is a quality individual, and I think a pretty good coach, but if he had the same kind of Pike’s Peak uphill struggle of a schedule that UK has year in and year out, I don’t think you would see near the same results.

    I think Stoops can build a decent program at UK over time, but the fans are going to have to be patient. The Cats are going to take their lumps on the W/L front as well as the injury front (hope not, but almost inevitable), especially this year. Hopefully the positive vibe will survive the tough times.

  4. Woohoo
    10:25 am August 28, 2013 Permalink

    BTI: Contrary to your belief that BBN ,fans are giving Stoops and Company a free-ride on 2013 expectations on success, the great majority expect improvement and expect 4 or more victories and no losses by big amount of points. Sure, if you only read the major sports blogs daily, the contributors vow to be patient and expect little this year……but these fans tend to be sports-wise fans and are intelligent about the game of football. Trust me…….by far the majority of fans have never played the first down of football and have no clue of what it will take to turn this program into a winner and how long it will take to do so. So, if UK loses to WKU the boo-birds will pour out their disappointment and say that Stoops and Company aren’t any better than Joker. They don’t understand how average our current talent is, and how difficult it is to “make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” so to speak. Unfortunately that is probably 50,000 of the 70,000 fans that will be at CWS each weekend ONLY coming if we win and not if we are just “competitive”.

  5. Open week
    10:53 am August 28, 2013 Permalink

    I wonder if the players get tired/discouraged by all the talk about how “average” they are and how lacking in skill for SEC play? It seems to me that those criticism are based solely on their star rating coming out of high school and their performance the last two years under a staff of questionable ability.

    What if the BBN & posters at KSR took the same attitude as the coaches, i.e., these are “our guys” and they can be “pretty good and shock some people”? You don’t have to expect an SEC championship to be positive in your support. The way some comment on here, you’d think the “leftover” players should all jump ship because they’re no good and we should either cancel the season or play only the incoming class. Those “leftovers” endured some pretty awful fan comments/reactions and decided to remain true to their commitment. I know some smart aleck will say they couldn’t go anywhere else, but Stoops & Co. have already helped some of them find their way to better opportunities for them. No, not SEC schools, but places where they can contribute and find some success and pride in their college experience, learning some valuable life lessons along the way. The mark of a great coach/person/authority figure is wanting the best for those you are responsible for.

    I can’t wait for Saturday night. WE WILL WIN — maybe by two touchdowns! Western beat us by virtue of a trick play which Minter & Co. should have anticipated. That was after four interceptions kept Western in the game. They won, yes, but the win wasn’t as convincing as they would like to think.

    Let’s forget last year and claim this team as “our guys”.

  6. ben
    12:07 pm August 28, 2013 Permalink

    don’t like this new foremat

  7. Sir Brandon
    12:13 pm August 28, 2013 Permalink

    O, BTI, beware the green-eyed monster that is jealousy.

  8. hoboat33
    3:02 pm August 28, 2013 Permalink

    “Joker Phillips left Stoops with no talent.” – wrong.

    Joker left Stoops with some talent. Sure, not a lot of pure SEC talent but the cupboard wasn’t bare. What Joker did leave was no unity, heart, confidence, fundamentals,……. You get the idea.