There have been plenty of big games in the Mark Stoops era, but the biggest may be Kentucky’s win over Mississippi State in 2016. Yesterday on The Paul Finebaum Show, ESPN college football reporter Marty Smith said Stoops told him he knew he had to beat Mississippi State or he’d be fired.
The quotes, via 247 Sports’s Derek Terry:
“What about what Mark Stoops said about winning? There was a crossroads in 2014 (it was actually 2016), he told us, he knew — what game was it? (Mississippi State) either I’m winning or I’m fired. He knew it. I’m winning or I’m fired.”
Finebaum agreed, recalling how anxious Stoops was on set of SEC Nation that day.
“We were up there that weekend and he came by the show. I’m not going to use any cliches about how tight he was, but he was like sweating the day before because you couldn’t avoid the subject. He barely won that game.”
Kentucky started that season 0-2 with losses to Southern Miss at home and Florida in Gainesville. The Cats were 3-3 heading into the Mississippi State game, but desperately needed a win to keep bowl hopes alive; thanks to Austin MacGinnis’ 51-yard field goal as time expired, they got it.
Forget Christmas cards; MacGinnis better get a present every year from the Stoops family.
Listen to Marty Smith, Ryan McGee, and Paul Finebaum discuss the moment below around the 10:30 mark: