In life’s most difficult moments, John Schlarman was at his best. Mark Stoops followed that example Thursday evening when he discussed the passing of his friend.
“The outpouring of support from John shows you the impact that he made on so many lives. We as an organization are doing our best to support LeeAnne and the kids and our team. John was so well respected throughout the country and in our community. It’s hard to state the impact he had on myself, the staff and our kids,” Mark Stoops said of John Schlarman.
“We so greatly appreciate John and all of the work that he did here, but more importantly the man that he was and the legacy that he leaves. We will work extremely hard to honor his legacy for many years to come.”
The first way they will honor Schlarman is by putting their pads back on this Saturday to play a physical football game against Vanderbilt.
“We’re going to go out and we’re going to honor John,” Stoops said. “One thing about John that everybody will tell you is that he was here with a strong, positive attitude everyday he could. He essentially came in here and worked and coached until it was the bitter end for him. We’re going to honor him by doing what John would do. What would John wanna do? John would pick up and he’d come to work and he’d put a smile on his face even when he was struggling and he would work. The best way we can honor him is go out and play the very best we can.
“I want to coach is if John was with me, standing next to me. If I can be a window through his eyes, for him to see the game through my eyes, it would be an honor. I think think our players need to think of it the same way; just envision him being there with us, watching us. We will play. Our team will be ready to play. It’s a tough day but our kids will be resilient, bounce back and will play hard in his honor.”
Stoops shared the news by calling the offensive linemen this morning. Once it was out, they called a team meeting with FCA chaplain Aaron Hogue to comfort those during a difficult time.
Many former players reached out throughout the day to send Stoops and the UK football family condolences, even those who did not play for Schlarman, Cleveland Brown Jedrick Wills. Stoops also spoke to former offensive coordinator and current West Virginia head coach Neal Brown on numerous occasions leading up to Schlarman’s passing. Close friends since Brown was a UK wide receiver, Brown remarked that despite the circumstances, Schlarman’s group was at their best over the last two years.
“John came into work everyday and he did excel. He truly did have a smile on his face and pulled people up and was always positive,” said Stoops. “You know this is a very strange year and during the toughest of times John was always there with that great attitude of his and that great work ethic. He really does inspire all of us.”