For several years now, the Louisville Cardinals have been the only football team worth mentioning in the state of Kentucky, as the Kentucky Wildcats floundered into non-relevance under Joker Phillips. With the arrival of Mark Stoops to Lexington, however, there is plenty of buzz surrounding Kentucky and what they could do to shake-up the balance of gridiron power in the state.
In short, should the Louisville Cardinals be concerned?
While primarily a defensive coordinator and corner backs coach prior to now, Stoops should make a smooth transition to being a head coach — especially at a program like Kentucky that is an afterthought even on its own campus and where the scrutiny most new head coaches endure should be substantially lighter. Given this, Stoops can sell the future of the program to football talent in the state instead of tradition.
This is a much different sale, but one that could be effective given the wealth of talent on the Louisville roster and the fact that a talented senior could play much more quickly for the Wildcats than the Cardinals.
This type of pitch isn’t so easily executed, however, a lot of times it makes more sense on paper and in theory than in the living room when trying to close the deal with student-athlete, mom, and dad.
To prevent the Wildcats from gaining any serious traction in the state of Kentucky, all the Cardinals need to do is what has become habit as of late: win. With all of the tools they have at their disposal in 2013, including Heisman Trophy candidate Teddy Bridgewater, DeVante Parker, and James Quick, that should be a simple enough task.
Mark Stoops has his work cut out for him.