Kentucky’s 27-16 win over No. 25 Florida at The Swamp captured the nation’s attention. People from all across the country are hopping on the Kentucky football bandwagon. Many believe in blue, but not everybody.
In a column for ESPN.com, Will Harris picked teams to “Buy and Sell” ahead of week three of the college football season. Harris looked at Mark Stoops’ team using the perspective as a gambler. In the process he took the Cats to the woodshed. A look behind the ESPN Insider paywall:
Mark Stoops won’t get to end his tenure as Kentucky coach voluntarily like Rich Brooks did, but two aspects of his time in Lexington will stand out as parallels to the Brooks era. Stoops will leave Kentucky better than he found it, and he won’t be able to fashion a relevant SEC contender.
Stoops has done wonders for the program on the recruiting, fundraising and facility-building fronts, but Kentucky has natural disadvantages that have cemented its historical place in the league pecking order. The program is still in the phase where it wildly celebrates rare wins over rebuilding league bullies. That’s nowhere near contending.
Don’t get carried away thinking that this 2018 Kentucky team is different because of one road win over an opponent who didn’t offer SEC-caliber resistance. Florida is a bad football team in its second game of a program overhaul under a brand new staff. Stoops has amply demonstrated that however much he’s raised the talent level — and therefore the bar for Kentucky’s A-game — he can’t get his team to play consistently enough week after week to be a factor in the SEC race. Stoops’ Wildcats will always be prone to weeks where poor weekday practices and gaffe-filled Saturdays prevail. The SEC East is weak, and some team may emerge from the division with a gaudy record yet be largely a fraud. If it looks like it might be the Cats, don’t buy the hype.
Kentucky still has many haters. You’d hate to see stuff like this get back to the players. Benny Snell, Kash Daniel and Josh Allen would not appreciate what Mr. Harris has to say about their head coach.