After taking a tough loss to start the season against Southern Miss, Mark Stoops didn’t have to do anything dramatic to spark a change, but he had to do something. What he said to them changed the course of the season, yet it was all according to the head coach’s original plan.
“I grabbed them up, I wanted to see the whites of their eyes, and I told them to stay the course.” Stoops told them, “Every son of a gun outside of this room right here will be attacking you and me. So put your head down, do your job, and go to work. Because there’s nowhere to run and there’s nowhere to hide. You either man up and get better or you cave.”
They didn’t man up right away, but halfway through the season Kentucky is 3-3. The path to a bowl game is clear, but that didn’t seem possible after the season-opening loss, especially if you heard the criticism from the fans. Mark Stoops certainly did.
“It’s very hard to get something turned when it’s toxic and negative,” he said. “Coaches deserve to be criticized. That’s our job, it’s part of our job, but the players and getting toxic and negative and all that…that’s not going to help get this program to where we want it to go. I promise you.”
Despite the toxicity in the air, Stoops remained steadfast. He continually preached, “stay the course.”
“We knew we had a good football team. We’re not a great team, but we’re a work in progress and we’re getting better and better. I love their attitude and I love the way they work.”
If they continue to stay the course through the second half of the season, it will end much differently than what we expected after week one.