Heading into his eighth season at Kentucky, Mark Stoops is slowly but surely gaining some respect from the national media. This morning, CBS Sports released its SEC head coach rankings, and Stoops came in at No. 7, up one spot from a year ago. As with most things when it comes to the SEC, seven out of fourteen may not sound that impressive, but when you look at the national rankings, Stoops is No. 22 overall.
“Stoops either matched or improved upon his season win total from 2013-18, when he posted the first 10-win season Kentucky has had since 1977,” Barrett Sallee (aka Shannon the Dude’s nemesis) wrote. “His Wildcats regressed to an 8-5 record in 2019. Think about that for a second. His team ‘regressed’ to an eight-win mark that hasn’t happened at Kentucky since 2007. That speaks volumes to his success as a head coach.”
I appreciate the quotation marks around “regressed,” but when you consider Kentucky lost two quarterbacks due to injury last season and finished with eight wins with a wide receiver at quarterback, I’d say the 2019 campaign was even more impressive than 2018.
The top three of the rankings are pretty predictable: Nick Saban, Alabama; Ed Orgeron, LSU; and Kirby Smart, Georgia. Auburn’s Gus Malzahn is right above Stoops at No. 6 and Mike Leach, now at Mississippi State, is No. 8, followed by Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin at No. 9. Check out the rest of the list at the link below.