Coming off the greatest UK football season in at least 40 years in 2018, it is safe to say that Mark Stoops is riding pretty high with the UK fanbase right now. And despite losing some of the best talent in the school’s history, the cupboard isn’t exactly bare for Stoops. He has a quality returning quarterback and some solid pieces on both lines. If the secondary and offensive playmakers can take a step up, the 2019 edition shouldn’t experience much of a drop back.
But just how much of a comfort zone does Mark Stoops have in 2019 where the fans remain happy? Because let’s be honest, there is never a scenario in today’s world where a coach can have any kind of season and the fans will all remain happy. Obviously, the scores of the games matter and just how the team looks, plus which games are the wins and which games are the losses is important, but for simplicity I am just going with overall win total and my assessment of how the fanbase would feel:
0-3 wins: Barring an injury to Terry Wilson causing this result, I would think fans would feel quite disappointed with anything in this range and Stoops will have lost all momentum gained in 2018. Three wins or less would also likely mean an 0-8 SEC season. Obviously this is very unlikely to happen.
4-5 wins: Certainly some fans would go back to being critical of Stoops if they have a 4-5 win season in 2019. And I think some fans would accept this after a 10-win season and losing Snell and Allen. But for Kentucky to truly become a football “power”, they can’t drop back to a non-bowl team. Ever. It is too easy to make bowls these days and missing one after a 10 win season would likely fracture the fanbase in support of Stoops.
6 wins: This is the floor for me. There is enough talent remaining and the expected improvement from Wilson to expect 6 wins minimum. They will be heavy favorites in all non-conference games plus Vanderbilt, Arkansas, and Missouri all appear likely on paper. If we are to take this program and its improvements seriously, and I do, then this would be a must.
7 wins: You could call this a solid season and one where winning 10 games in 2018 helps Stoops. It would likely mean a less than exciting bowl but with Wilson still with 1 year remaining I think fans would accept this results, especially if the Cats could get a bowl win too.
8 wins: You would have to think this would make fans ecstatic. Would mean at least 4 SEC wins again. Would show the 10-win season wasn’t a fluke. If he doesn’t have 100% fan support after this, I don’t know what will get it.
9+ wins: If you lose Benny Snell and Josh Allen and can still win 9 games or more, Stoops should be given that Calipari lifetime contract.