I’ve seen a lot of feedback from the “real” UK football plan this week about how all of those people, including myself, who were down on the Stoops program coming into last weekend need to apologize or admit our mistakes or whatever. Screw that. You can admit that up to last weekend the Mark Stoops program had been a vast disappointment while also admitting this fact:
-There might be an easy comparison to the Mississippi State win to what turned the Rich Brooks program around.
In Year 4 of the Rich Brooks era, his team was sitting at 4-4 and for his UK tenure, Brooks was sitting at 13-29. Without question, the fans were not on Rich Brooks side. And fans were right. UK was floundering under Brooks. And then the University of Georgia rolled into Lexington with Matt Stafford at quarterback. UK hadn’t beat Georgia since 1996. Final Score: Kentucky 24, Georgia 20.
From that point on, Kentucky did the following:
-3 bowl wins
-beat #1 LSU
-beat Louisville 3 times
-beat Georgia and Auburn on the road
At that point in the Rich Brooks tenure, things were not looking bright. And without question, the win over Georgia changed the entire direction of the program.
I think the win over Mississippi State could be that win for Mark Stoops. While the Bulldogs are not the greatest football team in the world, it’s HOW the Cats won that really matters. That was the kind of game that UK has lost time in and time out with Stoops. And the Brooks win over Georgia was the kind of game his teams had lost over and over.
The win sets up UK for a bowl game, assuming they can take either of the winnable games against Missouri or Georgia. If UK wins that bowl game then next years sets up much more nicely than this year. The Cats exchange a game at Alabama for one at home with Ole Miss and get Florida, Tennessee, and Louisville at home. Point being, 6-7 wins OR MORE could be possible next year, probably more so than this year. The talent will still be there and in theory, Stephen Johnson (or Drew Barker) will be 1 more year experienced.
Mark Stoops needed that win and in a crazy way, he needed it to play out like it did. I was sitting in Commonwealth Stadium Saturday and when the Bulldogs scored with just over a minute to go, I said “that seems about right”. That last minute of the game might have changed the direction of this program moving forward. Will it result in the effect it had for Rich Brooks? Only time will tell. But the indicators are there we could be on the verge of another great run.