Mark Stoops just got another year further removed from his playing days at the University of Iowa. Today the Youngstown native and Kentucky head football coach turned 52 years young.
To celebrate the occasion, let’s look back at six of his greatest moments as the Cats’ coach over his first six seasons in Lexington.
“We’re just getting started, bro.”
After consecutive two-win seasons, Kentucky fans were starving for a significant win. In his second season at the helm, Stoops’ troops were a delay of game in The Swamp away from snapping The Streak to Florida.
Snake bit with a difficult second half of the schedule, one of the BBN’s favorite enemies came to town. Riding on the back of JoJo Kemp, Kentucky overcame a 14-point fourth quarter deficit to take down Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks with a Bud Dupree Pick Six.
After Kemp delivered a powerful message on the field, Stoops gave Matt Jones a call on the KSR Postgame Show. The first of many eventful and entertaining calls to the show, Stoops provided an exclamation point in his message to the fans, “We’re just getting started, bro.”
Schlarman’s Game Ball
Four years after the close call at The Swamp, Stoops finally got his victory in Gainesville. Kentucky’s first win over Florida in 31 years featured big plays from the defense, gutsy third down moves from Terry Wilson and most importantly, dominance at the line of scrimmage.
Florida simply could not slow down the Cats on the ground, punctuated by Bunchy Stallings’ fourth quarter pancake, Kentucky finished with 303 yards of rushing. Once the game was over, Stoops could have taken credit for the accomplishment. Instead, he poured praise all over the team and handed the ball to John Schlarman. A man who had never defeated Florida as a player or a coach, finally got his victory as he was battling cancer. The game ball was perfect poetic justice.
Hiring (and Keeping) Vince Marrow
Mark Stoops found early success on the recruiting front in the state of Ohio. That could not have happened without his righthand man, Vince Marrow. It’s hard to imagine Stoops without The Big Dog. Last year’s success could not have happened if Marrow departed for Michigan. Luckily, Vince kept his promise to Mrs. Stoops and remained in Lexington.
Signing Austin MacGinnis
Mark Stoops probably would not be here without the greatest kicker to ever lace them up for the Wildcats. MacGinnis played high school football in Alabama, but the Crimson Tide don’t offer kickers scholarships. Stoops gladly handed a scholarship to the man who beat Mississippi State and Louisville in the final minute.
Has there ever been a better celebration for a walk-off win? I think not.
Taking off from Columbia like… ? pic.twitter.com/WZd1OERRnM
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) October 28, 2018
The REAL Blue and White
The Swaggy Stoops we first heard after the South Carolina victory reached a new level when Kentucky’s 2018 season culminated with a tenth victory at the Citrus Bowl. His final words took a shot at Penn State’s James Franklin, letting the world know who wears the real blue and white.