When UK head coach Mark Stoops picked up his first signature win of his coaching career – an upset victory over South Carolina in 2014 – he called int0 KSR after the game and gave one of the most memorable quotes of his tenure:
“We’re just getting started, bro,” he said, promising to break down barriers and push the program toward the top of the SEC.
Since then, Stoops’ has coached and developed some of the greatest players in school history, won ten games in a season for the first time since 1977, gone to four straight bowl games and won two of them, and ended UK’s losing streak against Florida, among countless other achievements and accolades.
Today, Stoops continued that streak of knocking down barriers, leading the Wildcats to a 34-7 victory over Tennessee at Neyland Stadium, Kentucky’s first victory in Knoxville since 1984.
“Just really happy for our fanbase, for everybody,” Stoops said on the KSR Postgame Show after the win. “I know how personal it feels at times, it’s a personal game. When you invest and put the amount of energy and hard work we all put into it, all of us – fans, media, administration, players – it means a lot. We’ve been knocking down doors and doing the best we can for years, and we’ll keep on chopping wood.
“The result was what we thought it’d be if we did what we’re all supposed to do. It was a great team victory.”
After the game, Stoops and the entire football team dedicated the victory to offensive line coach John Schlarman, who is currently battling cancer.
To be able to pull off the victory in his honor and hand him the game ball afterward was a special moment.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “The guys just really believe and buy in and play for each other. Coach Schlarman gave us a really nice motivational talk at the hotel before we left, our guys get it. They care. They play for each other.
“How can they not? How can you not be affected? Part of my message was to be grateful, have gratitude. Be grateful for the opportunity. Seeing what John goes through on a daily basis, it’s really hard. It’s pretty remarkable and concerning, really. This game means something to John, this team means something to John.”
With yet another barrier toppled, Stoops said he is rewarding himself in the only way he knows how: with bourbon and a cigar.
“I’m enjoying this bus ride, I’m sipping on a bourbon, and I’m going to go home and have a cigar,” Stoops told KSR. “What’s that tell you?”