Kentucky Wildcats Counting Heavily on Mark Stoops

By Tim Letcher

The Kentucky Wildcats announced on Tuesday that head football coach Mark Stoops would have his contract extended through 2019. And while this may have seemed like a simple move that didn’t mean much, the reaction from the Big Blue Nation was mixed.

A certain portion of the fanbase understands that Stoops inherited a tough situation when he took over for Joker Phillips in December of 2012. Phillips’ recruiting efforts had left the Kentucky program with an overall lack of talent, something Stoops was aware of when he took the job.

Stoops has done an incredible job on the recruiting trail. He has landed two of the school’s best recruiting classes ever, and his 2015 class is ranked near the Top 20 nationally.

Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart knows that recruiting is the lifeblood of any program, and if Stoops is to continue his success on the recruiting trail, potential Wildcats must know that Stoops will be their coach. Thus, the move to extend his contract for five seasons beyond the current season.

However, the other side of the coin is that Kentucky just extended the contract of a coach who went 2-10 last season, which was his first season as a head coach. Those fans don’t see things getting much better this season, even with the infusion of talent that Stoops has brought to Lexington.

Barnhart is taking the chance that, with Stoops’ recruting, the product on the field will get better, and that Stoops will be the coach to lead Kentucky to some type of football success. It’s a gamble on Barnhart’s part, but it’s a gamble that Kentucky fans should at least give a chance to work.

Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.


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