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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Mark Stoops Has Been Close…..Which Makes It More Frustrating

stoops aint scared, come at me bro

Nobody can argue that the current state of the program under Mark Stoops is leap years ahead of what Joker Phillips made UK football.  Despite going without a bowl for each of his 3 years, the actual football product is clearly better.  No doubt recruiting has improved.  These are things that I don’t think can be disputed.  And it’s why a guy with a 12-24 record is getting a 4th year and probably a 5th year no matter what happens this season.  But I’ll be honest.  I am significantly more frustrated with the current football program than I ever was with Joker Phillips.  It’s not really even close.

It became clear pretty quickly that the program was going down with Joker.  The talent was not progressing, the in-game coaching was pathetic, the players seemed disinterested and the effort was lacking.  Joker was basically a dead man walking his final 2 years.  But, that kind of made it easy to be a fan.  We sucked, we knew we sucked, we knew we were going to continue to suck as long as Joker was the coach.  And while you obviously want to be proud of your football program, if they are going to be bad then may as well be as bad as Joker made it because then it’s almost funny.  It doesn’t bother you as much, if at all, to lose.

Three years in, I know now what Mark Stoops has most working against him when it comes to fan support.  The biggest issue with Stoops’ program is he will NEVER let the program suck but he hasn’t shown the ability to make us excited either.  The program is not going to have a 2-3 win year under Stoops.  He has brought in a caliber of talent that is going to get 4-5 wins guaranteed every year.  But, for whatever reason, Stoops and his players have been lacking that ability to get over the hump and become competitive for 12 games a year.  And that’s the problem.  The problem is we all KNOW that UK has some talent.  We’ve seen it.  We all know that Boom Williams is UK’s best running back in many years.  Is Chris Westry the best cornerback in my lifetime?  Maybe.  4-star recruits are coming to Lexington now.  The off-season is where Mark Stoops and his staff feast.  Unfortunately, the actual season is where they have famined.

I went to 2 games last season, Florida and Louisville.  Those games were the absolute epitome of the Mark Stoops tenure.  Both of those games were winnable.  And not only winnable, but EASILY winnable.  Florida threw for 125 yards for the entire game and didn’t score a point in the 2nd half.  UK led Louisville by 21 points!  But of course we know how both games ended.  To be fair to Stoops, he isn’t the first coach to have this problem.  Rich Brooks had a little bit of this issue too.  But Brooks’ best teams still took advantage of a key chance each season AND they were beating Louisville on a regular basis.  Stoops hasn’t done that.

So, we now enter the 4th year.  And unfortunately, whether or not he has his best team this year, his schedule has never been harder.  Road games at Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, and Louisville.  A sneaky difficult home game against Southern Miss.  There are probably only 2 LOCKS on the schedule.  But, like I said, UK will win 4 games just because they have talent.  Probably Southern Miss and Vanderbilt.  But whether or not my frustration continues with UK football will have nothing to do with those 4 games.  It will have to do with South Carolina, Mississippi State at home and Missouri and Louisville on the road.  Those are the toss-ups or close to toss-ups.  South Carolina and MSU are rebuilding.  Mizzou has a new coach and Louisville is the rival.  These are the games that we have to take advantage of.  These are the games that UK has lost over the last 2 years.

I really want to have faith in this program.  I really do.  But I also have eyes.  I have seen what has been numerous blown opportunities over the last 2 seasons.  Both of those years could have easily been bowl seasons.  But UK never took advantage of chance to take the next step.  And now after having 100% fan support for most of his tenure, I think Mark Stoops is on shaky ground with the fans.  Not to lose his job but for fans to keep showing up.  With that said, one season of 7-5 or 8-4 and UK fans will be over the moon.  It doesn’t take much for us to be thrilled with football.  And we know we have enough to make that happen.  But we had enough last year too and went 5-7.  And that’s what makes the program so frustrating right now.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

24 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Mark Stoops Has Been Close…..Which Makes It More Frustrating

  1. shelby
    8:17 am May 3, 2016 Permalink

    I am ALL IN with Stoops!!
    Anybody who thought we were going to make a bowl any of the last 3 years is an absolute idiot. You don’t take a mediocre high school team, put them in the SEC, and go bowling in three years. Here’s a news flash, we’ll be a better team this year and we STILL won’t go bowling. If we lose to a formidable So miss team, we might go 4-8. And Stoops better get another year or two.
    Here’s the past two seasons in a nutshell: come out if the gate strong, then play 4 SEC monsters in a row–our freshmen and sophomores get thrown around and torn to pieces by 5th year seniors with exponentially more talent, and then they lose confidence…in themselves, their coaches, the play calling, etc… Then we lose a couple games we shouldn’t. The only cure is for us to have talented 5th year seniors on the field. We haven’t reached that point. Bama, auburn, Tennessee, miss St, LSU, Florida, Georgia, Tex a&am, etc… ALL have a 30 year head start on us. You don’t change that in 3 or 4 years.

    • cats paw
      8:52 am May 3, 2016 Permalink

      Funny how Louisville, Michigan, Florida and Tenn totally turned it around in just a year with the same talent from the year before? I like your Alabama, Georgia, LSU analogy…. Just curious why you didn’t mention getting whooped by Vandy, Western (and nearly Eastern) during this great turn around you are seeing

    • inside info2
      9:10 am May 3, 2016 Permalink

      Um, the COACHES thought we were going to a bowl game last year. They were telling friends this in private. So I guess they are idiots.

      Stoops gets this year and next and then he’s gone. He hasn’t shown me anything that leads me to believe he’s the guy to get it done.

    • cats paw, are you seriously saying that when Stoops took over he had as much talent as those other teams? Louisville POSSIBLY, but the others? Wow?

      That’s a new low level of ignorance for you, and that’s saying something, especially for a UL fan in disguise.

    • whatwasthat
      11:11 am May 3, 2016 Permalink

      Absolutely should have made a bowl last year, losing to vandy was the back breaker. UK went with a name coach although inexperienced as a head coach. This coming year we should see how far this coaching group has come, tougher schedule but better players with some experience thrown in.
      cats paws knows what’s coming for loserville, total domination by UK over little brother, just as it is in basketball. Coach Brooks put the l’s down and so will coach Stoops.

  2. pithuahua
    8:17 am May 3, 2016 Permalink

    If we had Brooks coaching Stoops players this team would be in the top 10.

  3. za
    8:21 am May 3, 2016 Permalink

    I agree with your sentiment. The way we lost some games is especially what hurt last year. But as Freddie Maggard has said over and over again the team will go with QB play and ultimately that’s true. If Barker is consistent and makes pretty much all the short and med throws to where a play can be made (by the offense) this team should be relatively competitive. I’m still disappointed about the UofL game – “we didn’t prepare for the second quarterback”

    • Loother
      6:21 pm May 3, 2016 Permalink

      Blocking and tackling is way more important than QB play. Ky needs more SEC caliber linemen on both sides of the ball to compete in the SEC…

      Recruits like Matt Elam aren’t getting it done…

  4. CatsfaninFL
    8:25 am May 3, 2016 Permalink

    Eh. I think you clearly forget how bad we were and how far we’ve come. Honestly I think the thing that has hurt Stoops so much is we have looked so good early on that when the inevitable grind of the season and injuries show up, we’ve had nothing to fall back on. You need depth at this level and that just takes time.

    Finally, I will say so much of winning is mentality. I played for a horrible HS team and a really good D3 college team. It was night and day when things got tight how the two teams handled the adversity. Good teams expect to win and to get to that point just takes time.

  5. Mathlete
    8:29 am May 3, 2016 Permalink

    How quickly we’ve forgotten that Papa Brooks’ first three seasons were 8-9 losses each before we started winning 7-8 per year…

    I rarely agree fully with BTI, but he’s right today. Winning is so tantalizingly close these last couple of years, and that’s infuriating because it seems like one bad play (that last play at the Auburn game, that pick in the endzone in the Florida game, that *extremely* wide receiver in the Vandy game) is what’s holding us back.

    This feels like the year when we make a significant breakthrough though. Coach Gran’s and Hinshaw’s offense is more suited to our personnel than whatever Dawson was trying to do, our defense is experienced and mostly 2-deep with SEC caliber players. We have someone paying attention to the special teams units instead of letting them do their own thing.

    I’m always hopeful, but this year I feel cautiously optimistic for some reason. Maybe it’s that we’re on a similar trajectory to Brooks’ tenure (with a coach who probably won’t retire for a while this time)?

  6. kycats13
    8:46 am May 3, 2016 Permalink

    I so want the football team to be successful. I’m probably more of a basketball fan than a football fan, but we’ve had a lot of success in basketball and we will continue to be successful in basketball. I now want, and have wanted for a very long time, for the football team to have long term success. I’m pulling for the Football Team to do wonderful things.

  7. nacatfan
    8:53 am May 3, 2016 Permalink

    Almost agree. Too many holes that havent been filled with SEC talent. Mostly on offensive line but on defensive line and linebacker. Obviously have had some very good backers but not four or five really good ones. Almost nothing on the edge for the rush and terrible against the run.
    When the cupboard is bare it takes a while, maybe 5 yrs, to get it filled up consistently.
    Get some stability in staff and I think we will be good in ’17.

  8. Sentient Third Eye
    8:58 am May 3, 2016 Permalink

    We are just now getting to the point of having improved talent with game experience going into a season (though there are still a lot of very young faces). Stoops’ biggest problem, though, is the SEC. Recruiting in the SEC is brutal. We can finish in the top 25 and still be in the bottom third of the conference. In this league, very good teams routinely crash and burn because any weakness will be exploited.

  9. Brad Bader
    9:01 am May 3, 2016 Permalink

    Unless we can find the Football Calipari, the grind toward national relevance will be excruciatingly slow at best. You simply cannot thrive in the SEC when half of the Top 10 recruiting classes are SEC schools, and the bulk of the conference is pulling down Top 25 recruiting classes year after year. We’re clearly making strides in the right direction (we made the Top 25 once so far under Stoops), but consistency is key.

    Then, of course, once recruiting is completely fixed, on-field coaching has to be up to snuff. I can chalk up a lot of our struggles now to youth and growing pains, but I’m not totally convinced those are the only problems.

  10. DelrayCat
    9:16 am May 3, 2016 Permalink

    Biggest problem is continuity of the offensive scheme. Three offensive coordinators since he’s been here. I wish we had brought in a coach who calls his own plays. Stoops has underwhelmed me. I see us at 4-5 wins..again having this same conversation this time next year.
    On a side note, I saw Patrick Towles was rated as one of the top15 QBs in the country heading into the draft next year.

  11. Ben27
    9:38 am May 3, 2016 Permalink

    If you want a winning football program, you need to give Stoops 8-10 years to change our program! Stoops would have been better off to have cleaned house at Kentucky when he started; then to change the losing mentality of the program, that we have watched lose the past 50 years. Howard needed and asked for ten years to turn Louisville’s program around, he got his time and the rest is history. You cannot have a revolving door of coaches every five years, like KY has over the past fifty years and have success.
    The first two games this year will determine if we have a 4-8 or 6-6 or better season. The real frustration is that we have not been able to have a major upset in the last three years. In year eight, Stoops should be able to have enough talent to compete regularly. Just relax and enjoy the ride! A chance to be good in football or a revolving door? The choice is quite easy based on the last fifty years.

  12. ClutchCargo
    10:19 am May 3, 2016 Permalink

    Substitute the word “disappointing” for “frustrating” and I’m right there with you. I was frustrated with Joker as the coach because anyone could see that the program was going nowhere fast and Barnhart just let it continue for too long. I was disappointed last season because we had a bowl game right in our grasp and didn’t finish strong. We hired a coordinator from one of the top football programs in the country and he is recruiting his ass off. Considering where we were when he got here, I can’t be frustrated right now.

  13. DACats86
    10:21 am May 3, 2016 Permalink

    I wasn’t nearly as amused by the Joker years as you seem to have been.

  14. macsauce13
    10:37 am May 3, 2016 Permalink

    Why are we listening to someone who admits he went to two games last year? BTI, you suck. We need all fans on board. All the time. Any argument otherwise is moronic. UK is TRYING to improve this program. They are spending money, we are bringing in better talent, they are working hard. SHOW UP, BE LOUD, and if they lose, then next week I need you to SHOW UP and BE LOUD. Every week.

  15. stevemotley
    3:14 pm May 3, 2016 Permalink

    Quit whining and get off the bus! #STOOPSTROOPS

  16. BluKudzu
    3:49 pm May 3, 2016 Permalink

    Ok, here is the thing; the UK AD said to win in the SEC you needed defense. (I agree). In order to get a great defense he hired Stoops. (No experience in rebuilding, but considered a good defensive guy, a stretch, but, ok).
    So far, the defense can’t stop the other team 2 out of every three games.
    I understand this game it ain’t about what you get, it is what you give up, that beats you.
    4 years and no defensive front worries me. (A LOT).
    Eventually Stoops has to stop giving up pinball machine numbers defending. Or, if The AD is true to his word, find someone else.

  17. tnlongdrvr
    7:21 pm May 3, 2016 Permalink

    your articles don’t make much sense at all. you say we can’t win enough games to go to a bowl yet you also are a big proponent wanting a tougher schedule. what gives?