There is 1 question that continually has been bouncing around my head as we start to slow climb into the next football season. Why can’t Kentucky football win the East Division of the SEC? Sure, they have never done it. And frankly, they have never come close. But they have a couple things going for them this year:
- Returning Successful Quarterback
- Star Skill Player
- Returning Experience on Defense
Now, if you disagree with those 3 points above, then we just disagree. But I think one legitimate question to ask that we can all agree on is whether Mark Stoops is ready to take that next step into a championship coach. He’s more than shown abilities in recruiting and last year was a very good coaching job, but what is the next step? Is it mid-level SEC team from here on out, or can he build a championship team?
When I wonder that question, I look at this list right here. The last 4 coaches to win the SEC East division of the SEC:
2016: Jim McElwain, Florida
2015: Jim McElwain, Florida
2014: Gary Pinkel, Missouri
2013: Gary Pinkel, Missouri
Those guys right there are not bums. They were/are very good college football coaches. But they aren’t legends. They aren’t Saban or Spurrier or Meyer. If those guys above can win SEC East divisions, at a place like Missouri nonetheless, can’t Mark Stoops be at that level?
I look at the schedule, what Kentucky has returning, the momentum of the program, and just the sheer odds of it all, and I genuinely believe Kentucky can win the East next season. My one and only concern is if Stoops will take that next step too. I believe he can but he has to prove it. Will he be a Rich Brooks or a Gary Pinkel? That might be one of the biggest keys to 2017.