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Kentucky ranked eighth-toughest place to win in college football

When Mark Stoops took over the Kentucky football program back in 2012, those close to the team felt they were on the same tier talent-wise as some FCS schools. Stoops and his staff told 2014 and 2015 recruits to not even look at the win/loss total in their first year because they knew the end result would be ugly. Look at the small, subtle differences to start with, they would preach. Then the wins would come.

It took four years to become bowl-eligible, and the Cats followed it up with another seven-win season in 2017. If things go as planned, we’re looking at three consecutive bowl seasons. With state-of-the-art facilities, coaching stability, and NFL prospects lining the roster, things are going really well.

But you’d be lying if you said it was easy to get to this point. Just like it was for Rich Brooks. Just like it has been for some of the other great coaches in this program’s history.

This weekend, USA Today released a list of the most difficult places to win in all of college football, and Kentucky (unsurprisingly) made the cut.

Check out their analysis for the Cats, whom they listed at No. 8 in the nation.

8. Kentucky

Kentucky’s the second-toughest place to win in college football’s toughest conference. It’s hard, though Rich Brooks and now Mark Stoops have shown that putting together back-to-back bowl trips is possible if given enough time to cobble together a competent roster. But Kentucky is notable for how hard it has been for coaches to maintain success.

Fran Curci got things rolling in the mid-1970s but petered out through the rest of the decade. Jerry Claiborne’s consistency from 1982-89 gave way to the frustrating Bill Curry era. Brooks ceded to Joker Phillips and the bottom dropped out. Meanwhile, Stoops enters a crucial season for his tenure in 2018.

Here is the entire list:

  1. Oregon State
  2. Vanderbilt
  3. Duke
  4. Indiana
  5. Kansas State
  6. Kansas
  7. Iowa State
  8. Kentucky
  9. Texas Tech
  10. Washington State

What do you guys think? Agree?

[USA Today]

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

55 Comments for Kentucky ranked eighth-toughest place to win in college football

  1. jimmer
    10:13 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

    I like the fact they didn’t say it’s a basketball school. At least that narrative has changed.

  2. nellis234
    10:18 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

    That’s why I say as long as Stoops keeps us going to Bowl Games, Keep him. Consistency is Key. Consistent Bowl Games and 7 win season will lead to better days.

  3. BluKudzu
    10:18 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

    So, are we better? Yes. Are we competitive? Only against bottom feeders, and division II type programs. During Stoops tenure, we have yet to beat WKU, have only beaten Louisville once, and have been blown out every other game, and struggle to beat EKU.
    We have a long way to go, but I am hoping we have not plateaued.
    If this is as good as it will get under Stoops, then Mitch needs to find the guy that gets us to the next level.
    Hoping Stoops gets it together….hoping this will be the break out year.
    Go Cats.

    • bigbluebanana
      10:33 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

      I see your point, but it’s kinda microwave culture reaction. Stoops has gotten better, albeit minutely, every year. There are a lot of coaches across all sports that are good examples of what happens when you have patience with a coach. Krszshdghteski over at dook is a good example.

    • maximumscott
      12:32 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

      Blown out every other game?!?!? Auburn, UGA, UF a couple times, Miss St, Ole Miss, UT, SCar,

    • mashburnfan1
      1:29 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

      Was going to call him out on this as well Scott. Kuds obviously has never been to a game. We have had several close and exciting games vs good teams, that Thursday Auburn game being the start of it. 2 years ago UGA kicked a FG to beat us as time expired, yes UGA that was in title game last year. Even last year at UGA we played well for 2.5 quarters but not enough depth to stay with them. At Bama loss like 28-10 couple years ago, again depth a factor. Sadly depth is still not where we need it but we are getting there. Yes we let some wins get away, yes we have been blown out some, but this is a much better product on the field than I can remember and I am 51. Tough Conference to start from scratch in and that is what Stoops and staff had to do.

  4. Ridge Runner
    10:20 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

    Ok… huh? Whaaat? This is a joke, right?

    • Jack Pilgrim
      10:47 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

      Toughest place to be a successful program, NOT toughest place to win football games from a crowd standpoint.

    • KYcats11
      11:47 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

      Apparently these people didn’t read the article.

    • Ridge Runner
      6:42 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

      I read the article kinda fast but I’ll be honest and say I didn’t focus & missed the connection. For me, it’s like one of those things that I just didn’t apply focus on. I think if many are honest as well, they will agree even if they don’t admit it. And probably the confused comments like mine, actually made them focus. Lol. Anyway.. having said all of that, not sure I agree on lists like this as it’s hard to “rank” non blue blood football schools.

  5. TateD
    10:21 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

    Haha football had to be a typo. C’mon man

    • Han
      11:01 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

      Read the post. Don’t read the headline and rush down here to comment.

  6. shelby
    10:21 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

    I agree 100%. The biggest mistake this program has made in recent memory was handing the reins to joker. Brooks made us respectable; the next hire after him was absolutely critical. I’ve always felt the biggest reason joker got the job was Tubby’s departure. We were being called racist and the powers that be felt making joker coach in waiting would quell the storm; enormous mistake. If we make the right hire at that time, we’re a different program today. Joker absolutely dismantled everything Brooks built. Stoops took over a program that was completely devoid of D1 talent; we were set back 10 years by joker.

  7. VinDatuk
    10:26 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

    Any list without Syracuse and Rutgers is questionable.

    10:38 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

    Ahhhh really? It’s tougher to win at UK then,Bama,OSU,UF,Ckemson UGA? What am I missing here?

    • shelby
      10:58 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

      Bluevader: u r missing brains and any knowledge whatsoever of what it takes to win in the sec.

    • Han
      11:00 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

      You’re missing that they’re saying it’s harder to win as Kentucky than it is to win as Bama, OSU, UF, etc. Not harder to come in and beat us.

    • ClutchCargo
      11:15 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

      You are missing taking the time to actually read the article before commenting.

    • Luether
      11:52 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

      The post is simply not well written…

    • mashburnfan1
      1:31 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

      easy answer for bluevader… education

  9. Jonathan40330
    10:40 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

    Kansas? Seriously, Kansas? We’re talking about the team that has a combined 3-33 record over the last three seasons. KU has seventeen (17!) home losses in just the last three seasons.

    • Han
      10:59 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

      That’s the point of the post. It’s harder to build a winning program at these schools, not harder to come in and win as the opponent.

    • Bluebrook
      4:23 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

      Apparently reading comprehension is the toughest thing to win for a lot of people in this comment section.
      I was really surprised that K-State was on this list. Bill Snyder has kept them very consistent over the last 15 years. A team like Maryland or Rutgers was much more deserving of a spot.

  10. JPGott2
    10:43 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

    Well, I will say this is all old news, becAuse we now have 1 thing that we have never had in the past…. What is this thing?????? Facilities!!!!

    UK actually invested in the football program for the first time. It is now Stoops time to make good on those winning seasons. If not, we can get someone with the facilities the university has invested in.

    • shelby
      10:59 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

      JPGott2 …. who?

  11. vladimirhootin
    10:46 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

    This is quite possible the worst list ever!!! Kentucky top 8?!?!?!? Hahahahahaha!!!! NO WAY!!!!! WKU won here just a few years ago!!!! WAKE UP PEOPLE!!! Stop believing everything KSR says geez

    • Han
      10:58 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

      Read the actual post.

  12. Han
    10:58 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

    A lot of comments from people who read the headline and not the post. Either that or you all have very poor reading comprehension.

    The post is not about it being hard for teams to come in here and win. The post is saying it’s 8th hardest to build and maintain a winning program here. So it’s harder for Stoops and co. to win here, not harder for WKU or Bama or whoever to come in here and win.

    • SuperTroy18
      11:27 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

      Really. So many of these comments clearly didn’t even glance at what the article actually said. Just goes to show how many people rush to judgement after only reading a headline. Sad.

      It does also provide yet another example at how poorly written these article headlines are. Phrasing is everything.

  13. Matty Arbuckle
    11:14 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

    Toughest for Kentucky to win at, maybe…

  14. Underdog
    11:24 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink


    Better headlines would avoid the confusion:

    Kentucky ranked eighth-toughest coaching job in college football


    Kentucky ranked eighth-toughest place to build a winning college football program

    • SuperTroy18
      11:27 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink


    • Jack Pilgrim
      1:17 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

      USA Today article is titled: “The 10 toughest places to win in college football’s Power Five conferences”

    • mashburnfan1
      4:23 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

      Don’t blame the title, nothing in it or the article made me think CWS is toughest place to win at. Blame the lazy a$$es that don’t take 30 seconds to read the article. No it’s so easy to just type and show your ignorance before getting the facts or details.

    • Biglaw Dawgin'
      10:24 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

      I agree with both underdog and Jack here. Yes, the original USA Today headline is confusing…. But it could be improved upon here to get the true message across.

  15. lexcatfan2367
    11:43 pm June 24, 2018 Permalink

    There’s no way this is accurate. I don’t even think we’re 8th in the SEC…what do I know.

    • Bluebrook
      4:27 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

      READ THE ARTICLE! It’s listing the toughest places for a coach to come in and build a winning, consistent program.

  16. michaelb
    5:43 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

    I’ve never been reverse Clickbaited before, gnarly !!! Jk

  17. Jay17282
    7:01 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

    That list is an absolute joke

  18. Rabbi Li
    7:36 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

    Let this graphic sink in:

    >>>>> It’s been 41 years since we’ve won more than 50% of our conference games. <<<<<

    Until we start doing that you can keep acting like the 'record' &amp; 'bowl games' matters at Kentucky.

    Real fans know what column to look at. Conference games.

    Be honest, be willing to see the truth, face it, work harder than your opponent, beat them.

  19. Rabbi Li
    7:40 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

    Updated: Added 2017 Season

  20. henderblue
    7:57 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

    michaelb has it right. Reverse clickbaited. Nice move Jack Pilgrim…

  21. Catswin98
    8:27 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

    If most of the comments are from readers who misunderstood the entire point of the article, it’s not the fault of the readers. It’s a poorly-written article.

  22. kykid16
    8:53 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

    UK should be either first or second behind Vandy! We both play in the toughest conference in football!

  23. runningunnin.454
    8:54 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

    The headline was misleading regardless of where it originated; and that with all the comments were absolutely hysterical…totally enjoyed it, ha ha ha.

    • njCat
      11:55 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

      It’s very common for sportswriters to say a school is ‘one of the toughest places to win’. Most people know what those words mean.

    • runningunnin.454
      1:12 pm June 25, 2018 Permalink

      Yup, I knew what it meant; but, you could also say, “Alabama (or Clemson) is the No. 1 toughest place to win.

  24. Biglaw Dawgin'
    10:19 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

    Wow, very confusing headline in the US Today article. It should read: “Top Ten Toughest Programs For a Coach to Have Success.” The “Places to Win” line indicates stadium.

    In most commenters’ defense, even reading the article it doesn’t tip you off that the author is talking about programs for a coach to have success. I read until about team #3 or #4 before it became clear.

  25. notFromhere
    11:26 am June 25, 2018 Permalink

    It’s not the headline or the article. It’s the reader… Always someone else’s fault these days.

  26. notFromhere
    1:13 pm June 25, 2018 Permalink

    Kentucky should be at the top of that list, not 8th. Iowa State gets the benefit of bad officiating like UK does, when that conf
    needs more bowl teams. Indiana is a pit, but at least they have the lower tier of the big tweleven to beat up on in good years. Vanderbilt was getting it done past what UK was doing before Johnson(?) left, and have the money and location to do well. Washington State has had their moments like… the Beavers who have been more competitive in an easier conference. Baylor… if it wasnt difficult to win here in the heart of Texas football country, theyd be killing it. Kansas is one step above Iowa State (based on the gifts given them over the Hawkeyes). Duke has the money and location. No excuses there. Kansas State has been in the championship discussion in the last 20 years, not sure they even belong on this list.

    There are plenty that aren’t that should probably be on this list ahead of Kansas State

    Iowa State
    Washington State
    Oregon State
    Kansas State

  27. BBNDan7
    5:42 pm June 25, 2018 Permalink

    These comments made me feel better about myself today. Thank you all

  28. fireants25
    10:01 pm June 25, 2018 Permalink

    This list is dumb period. I mean I love Kentucky but give me a break. We gives games away how’s a tough place to play (Florida game). Death Valley hello. The Swamp. Vandy?! Hahhahaha wow