Do you know that last Head Coach at the University of Kentucky to leave with a winning record was Blanton Collier? That was in 1961. They’ve been searching for his replacement ever since.
Have the Kentucky Wildcats finally found their man?
Big Blue Nation sure hopes so.
Florida State Seminoles Defensive Coordinator Mark Stoops has been hired to lead the downtrodden UK program out of the darkness and into the light. And he’s got his work cut out for him.
Many have speculated that former Arkansas Head Adulterer- I mean Coach- Bobby Petrino would get the nod, but the Wildcats looked towards revamping their defense instead of firing up a high powered offense.
The Wildcats have been declining ever since Rich Brooks left after the 2009 season. Joker Phillips, the Offensive Coordinator under Brooks, was simply awful in replacing his mentor. In slightly less than three full seasons at the helm in Lexington, Phillips was 13-24. Their defense is one of the main culprits for such a devastating decline, which is why the Wildcats looked to Stoops.
Stoops took over a surprisingly bad FSU defense in December 2009. Before Stoops took over, the ‘Noles were 108th nationally in total defense. After Stoops took over, the ‘Noles were 42nd in 2010, 4th in 2011 and 2nd this season. The guy knows defense. Heck, everyone in his entire family knows defense. Both of his older brothers Bob and Mike were ace Defensive Coordinator’s before getting their chances to lead a BCS program. Bob is still going strong at Oklahoma and Mike led Arizona for six seasons before his release. Mike is now the DC at OU.
Stoops should also improve the Wildcats recruiting. Stoops wasn’t an outstanding recruiter while coaching under his brother at Arizona, but when he went to Tallahassee, he figured it out. Granted, some of his success in that department can be attributed to brand popularity of the esteemed Florida State Seminoles, but he still had to sell those kids on why they should play at FSU and not at Miami or at the University of Florida. The Wildcats are desperately in need of an infusion of talent. They are clearly well behind everyone in the SEC East, even former doormats Vanderbilt, in terms of talent. All positions need to be upgraded. Stoops can help that.
More so than anything else, the Wildcats are bringing in a man with some fire in his belly. The program has grown stagnant and seemingly has lost it’s hunger. They need a man who can bring some energy to not only the team, but to a perennially disappointed fan base. This is the same school that employs basketball’s version of Nick Saban in John Calipari. They see the results that an energetic and tireless motivator can have on the court and off it.
Have the Wildcats found the right man to lead them out of football purgatory? We won’t know for a little while. One thing that we’ll be able to judge soon is what kind of recruiter he will be at UK as National Signing Day 2013 is right around the corner.
But I say kudos to UK for giving the youngest Stoops brother a chance. There’s very little chance he’ll be worse than his predecessor, and at the very worst he’ll infuse some life into the lifeless program in Lexington.