The heat is officially on for Mark Stoops and his UK football program. Not the kind of heat that gets you to lose your job, but the kind of heat whether the fanbase is going to continue to stick it out with your team and its progress. Fans have been totally behind Stoops for 2 1/2 years because the talent has improved and the momentum seemed to be going in the right direction. That’s even with just a 11-21 record. But 2 wins over South Carolina, beating Missouri, nearly beating Louisville last year, it seemed that things were going the right way.
The problem is that can’t be where it stays. Great, you beat some teams that you were supposed to. Now what’s next? The time has passed where performances like the last 2 weeks are acceptable. Year 1 or 2 the fans were willing to look past those, not anymore. The time is now for UK to breakthrough against “better” teams. They will get only 1 more chance this year, against Georgia. Louisville is not a better team this year but has controlled the rivalry, so that will be another key moment.
Up to this point, many will have called the 2 USC wins and Missouri are the marquee moments in his tenure. The problem is, when you look deeper into the progress of the program, you recognize that things we thought were significant wins have been tarnished a bit once the season comes to a close. Take a look at the final (or current) records of the 11 teams that Stoops and UK have beaten the last 3 years:
Miami (OH): 0-12
Alabama State: 8-4
South Carolina: 7-6 (won bowl)
South Carolina: 3-5
Eastern Kentucky: 5-3
COMBINED RECORD: 49-67
Only 1-AA Alabama State finished with a winning record in the regular season. It’s possible none of the 4 wins so far this year will finish with a winning record, and certainly possible when you take out EKU. South Carolina is the only team that even MADE a bowl game, much less won one. And when you take out the 3 wins over 1-AA opponents, that combined record drops to 30-54.
The point is Mark Stoops still doesn’t really have that win to hang his hat on. He has wins that have advanced the program, like winning an SEC game in 2014 and winning on the road in 2015. But the time for beating crap teams is over for the fans. Now you have to beat the good teams. Georgia is slumping but still considered a “good” team. Louisville is down but still considered a “good” team. Those 2 games will be crucial for if this fanbase stands by Stoops and Co. into 2016. Many fans will call for competitive performances from the Cats in those games. I call bull on that. The time is NOW to beat one of those 2 teams. From this fan, get beat in both of those games, especially the way the last 2 weeks have gone, and 2016 becomes a tough sell for me.