Most Recent Posts
- Video: UK softball coach Rachel Lawson previews the Super Regional clash against Arizona State
- ESPN.com’s Jason King seems to have logical rankings going into next season
- Mark Stoops on John Calipari: “I love being around him”
- UK football coach Mark Stoops understands that hiring Vince Marrow was a home run for Kentucky
- Video: Larry hears cowbells, makes a chocolate cow and soaks up the culture in Switzerland
- Video: UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown talks about recruiting the home state of Kentucky
- What role did Drew Barker’s mother play in his athletic development?
- Calipari will be keynote speaker at Iba Awards June 3 in Tulsa
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops admits he’s been influenced by different people, but none had a bigger impact on his coaching career and life than his father, Ron.
Ron Stoops taught and coached football for 28 years at Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown, Ohio. During a game in October of 1988, he felt chest pains on the sideline and stopped coaching during the fourth quarter. Mooney won in triple overtime and Ron Stoops watched the final moments before being placed into an ambulance. Not long after the ambulance doors shut, he died at age 54.
The Stoops brothers all starred for their father at Cardinal Mooney. Bob, Mike and Mark earned scholarships to Iowa and played defensive back. From 1979 to 1989, a Stoops brother wore No. 41 at Iowa. Bob and Mike earned first-team all-Big Ten honors. All three became graduate assistants there. A fourth brother, Ron Jr.,had opportunities to play for Division II and Division III teams, but went to Youngstown State and became a teacher and coach.
“He has had the biggest influence on me for sure. He had a great influence,” the Kentucky coach said. “He was very interesting. He was a simple guy, yet he had a great impact on a lot of people. Just the way he always went about his business. He always had a great work ethic. He always had a great demeanor of how he handled students or players he was coaching. He had a great way with the family. He just had a great influence on me.
“He coached high school football and was head baseball coach. He kept score for the basketball team. He was always around the gym. In the summer he had several different jobs. He sold insurance sometimes, but we also painted houses. That was our deal. He owned a painting company. I painted houses. We worked very hard in the summer to make some extra money on the side. He was just a great influence on me. Great man. A man of very, very high integrity and character. He had a great way about him.”
Stoops said all the brothers worked for their father painting houses.
“We could whoop it up right now. I wouldn’t have time to paint this office but oh yeah I could do it — inside, outside, the whole deal. Oh, yeah. I painted for a long, long time,” Mark Stoops said.
Did they get paid for painting?
“My dad was very generous. He paid us and I was the youngest, so by the time I came up, I think that was part of it, why he kept it going and all that,” the UK coach said. As we were coming back from college or on our way to college, just out of high school — made pretty good money. He was very generous. It was hard work. Are you kidding me? We were up there on 40-foot ladders on some old houses on the south side of Youngstown. It was a serious business. It was hard.”
With all the buzz over Kentucky football, is there any chance Mark Stoops is getting a bit anxious for the opening game and wishes it was time to play now?
“No. There’s a lot of work to be done between now and then. We’re not ready. Western would whoop us right now,” Stoops said of the Aug. 31 opener in Nashville against Western Kentucky.
But don’t worry. He says the Cats will be ready Aug. 31.
“We’re not there yet, but we plan on being there. We’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then and our players are embracing that process,” the coach said. “They’re enjoying it. They’re looking forward to getting involved in the summer program. They’re excited about that. And then we’ll be in the fall. We’ll be ready.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh still remembers playing in Commonwealth Stadium when he was a freshman at Auburn in 1995 and UK had Moe Williams as its star running back.
“I remember him being really good and my coach telling me about him. The first play he told me not to reach. I remember him (Williams) running through the hole. I reached out and he about tore my shoulder off. I can remember that even now,” said Brumbaugh. “I don’t remember much more other than it was a night game. But I remember that first play.”
He’ll also likely never forget his first game in Commonwealth as a UK coach even if it was the spring game because of the fan.
“I have been part of walks before a lot of games, but I have never been down a walk like we had at the Cat Walk before the spring game. That was unbelievable,” Brumbaugh said. “That kind of enthusiasm and passion for the game is unbelievable. I go to Florida to recruit and kids are talking about us having close to 51,000 at the spring game. That is all over. Everybody thinks this is a basketball school, but people here are talking football and supporting football.”
Brumbaugh was an all-Southeastern Conference defensive tackle at Auburn where he started 44 of 48 games and had 291 tackles and three times made the all-SEC team. Brumbaugh signed a free-agent deal with the San Francisco 49ers in 2000, but spent most of his pro career in the XFL with the Birmingham Bolts and in arena football with the Georgia Force and Birmingham Steel Dogs.
Brumbaugh, who was also a member of LSU’s staff during its national championship in 2007 when the Tigers were upset at UK, says his playing time at Auburn gives him credibility with players.
“I think it does. Anytime a guy has gone through the same situation you have, you are more adamant listening to what that guy who has been there doing that,” Brumbaugh said. “I have been in every battle they are going through. The more success that your guys have, the better your selling points are. That is what I teach. I try to drill fundamentals in practice and if I get a good game clip and they see they are basically doing that drill in a game and having success, they will listen.”
Often those spring practice drills included Brumbaugh not only teaching, but participating with his linemen — something they all liked and respected.
“That is just part of what I do. I am a teacher of the game. I am a visual guy,” Brumbaugh, a Florida native, said. “A lot of times if I can do something, they get a better understanding of what I am trying to get done and they understand and learn more. I get more quality reps and once they understand, then I can get quantity (reps). I am young and can still do that now. It might be different when I get older.”
Brumbaugh’s most recent BCS stop was a two-year stint at Syracuse University, where he coached the defensive tackles in 2011 and the defensive line in 2010. Prior to his time at Syracuse, Brumbaugh coached the defensive line at Louisiana Tech in 2008 and 2009.
At LSU, he was assistant strength and conditioning coordinator in 2006 and 2007. That gives him a perspective most college assistant coaches don’t have. He said the lifts he had players do lead to explosiveness needed in the defensive line.
“I can reference those kind of situations. It’s a toughness aspect not everyone can appreciate,” Brumbaugh said. “It’s not easy to play defensive line. It’s not an easy position at all. If you bring a whole bunch of kids to camp and there are balls laying there a couple of sleds, every kid getting off the buss wants a ball to throw around. Hardly anyone will go down and want to punch sleds.
“It’s tough being a defensive lineman. My wife gets on me because I will be walking in somewhere and will just swat something. I’ve always done that and it is natural to me. Walk by me and touch me, I put my hand up. It’s just natural for me to do that. It’s just a reaction thing, something I have done all my life. Those are learned habits. Once you become a defensive lineman, you understand those kind of situations.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Veteran coach Dom Dunn, a Louisville native, is thrilled to be back on the field coaching defensive tackles at Western Kentucky after spending the three previous seasons as the director of high school relations at Texas Tech for a staff that included current Kentucky coaches Neal Brown, Chad Scott and Tommy Mainord. He shared his thoughts:.
Question: Are you excited for the opener with the Bobby Petrino and Mark Stoops both being new and the game at the Titans’ stadium in Nashville?
Dunn: “It will be exciting. Again, as a coach, that is the first time I have thought about all that. You guys (in the media) are very helpful. But it’s Team X. I know that sounds corny, but that’s the way we do it. But there will be excitement. No doubt. You can’t be a football fan or a Western fan or Kentucky fan or live in the state of Kentucky … going to Nashville is a great atmosphere. It’s good for both programs. I hope we continue to do it.”
Question: Is there a lot of buzz about Petrino in Bowling Green?
Dunn: “Yes. Again, I have been on the road recruiting and we have been running since we have been there. But our (preseason) ticket sales are the most they have ever been. I believe he is one of the top coaches in the country.”
Question: What about the perspective you had of Kentucky high school football when you joined the Western staff?
Dunn: “It has gotten so much better from when I played. Of course, that was 100 years ago. But it is so much better. Better athletes. More Division I players than there ever has been. Passing aspect of it is so much better. It is night and day from when I was here before. You always hear about Texas football, but football is football. You still have to find the top kids. Kentucky will have their share. Not as many as Alabama or Florida, but it is getting better.”
Question: What do you remember about trying to recruit Jacob Tamme to Auburn?
Dunn: “I tried to get him to come. That ought to tell you because we were rolling pretty good back then at Auburn. I knew he was a great kid, great program, great family. I never got to point of getting in for a home visit, but I tried like heck. I talked to him on the phone a few times, but I knew it would be an uphill battle with Kentucky. I knew he would be a good player and I am happy for him. I am just glad I don’t have to play against him.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Veteran coach Dom Dunn, a Louisville native, is thrilled to be back on the field coaching defensive tackles at Western Kentucky after spending the three previous seasons as the director of high school relations at Texas Tech for a staff that included current Kentucky coaches Neal Brown, Chad Scott and Tommy Mainord. He has 37 years of coaching experience at the collegiate level, including 10 years at Auburn. Dunn was at the Kentucky High School Coaches Association Clinic at Centre College Saturday and shared his thoughts on Western, UK football, Brown, Scott and even Jacob Tamme.
Question: What has it been like working for Bobby Petrino and how anxious were you to get back on the field after three seasons as director of high school relations at Texas Tech?
Dunn: “I am very fortunate, very thankful. I coached for all those years and things just didn’t work out and I had to go into the administration part of it, which I learned a lot from the other side. When Bobby gave me this opportunity, it was just like a breath of fresh air. I really believe and know for a fact I am working for the best head coach in college football. He doesn’t miss a thing. He has made me a better coach again. Bringing out the best in meet since I have been with him since February.”
Question: What is your sense about what the win over Kentucky last year meant to the Western football program?
Dunn: “I am sure it was a great day for Western Kentucky and their fans and their players. But I didn’t have anything to do with it. None of us (coaches) were there. We have not talked about it. We won’t talk about it. You can’t worry about what happened yesterday. If I was a Western Kentucky fan, that would be a great day.”
Question: Since you will know half the Kentucky staff almost, what will that opening game be like for you trying to slow down the Neal Brown offense?
Dunn: “It is going to be a challenge. He does a great job. Their staff does a great job. Plus, we are starting all over basically on the defensive line. We lost some good players. Like every game, got to take one game at a time. We don’t look at Kentucky or Tennessee or anybody. We are just Team X that we have next.”
Question: What impresses you the most about Neal on and off the field?
Dunn: “Great guy. Great family guy. I got to know Neal a little bit at Troy and knew about him because I was at Auburn so long. I met Neal a few times and heard great things about him and then was fortunate enough to work for him for three years at Texas Tech. Love his family. His kids. His dad is a great man. I talk to his dad more than Neal. Trying to help him out where Neal’s sister is trying to get a job at another school. Great kid, great young coach. Energetic. Works hard in recruiting. Works the kids hard. I see Neal in five years being one of those big-time head coaches.”
Question: Even though he wouldn’t yet be 40 years old?
Dunn: “Don’t tell me that. Like I said, I got shoes older than Neal.”
Question: What kind of young coach is Chad Scott and what makes him such a good recruiter?
Dunn: “Chad is Chad. He is honest and he knows the game. He doesn’t put up a lot of BS. He gets to know the kids and families. His personality. Just a great guy. I love them all. They are all good people. He’s a good coach on the field, too. He is hard nosed, get after it, technician, studies the game. All those guys, including coach Mainord, have nothing but a great future ahead of them. But ask coach Mainord about his cooking. He can’t cook a brisket. He’s a good coach, and a great young coach. I hope these guys realize what a great opportunity they have. It can end in a hurry. You can be at the top of the world and then be at the bottom, but I see nothing but bright futures for these three guys.”
Question: Are they always enthusiastic like they showed during their first spring practice at UK?
Dunn: “Yes. That is what it is. You can’t ask your kids to go hard and work if you don’t have energy, enthusiasm and tempo. They all three have that and will continue to have that. That is what it takes.”
Question: Since you have coached in the SEC, how will Brown’s offense work in the SEC?
Dunn: “I think so. But what succeeds are players. My grandpa always told me no donkey won the Kentucky Derby. You have got to have athletes. If you get athletes and good football players, they can run any offense or defense. It is unique offense and will put pressure on the defense. When they get their type of people there, I see that offense being very successful.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
He came into his sophomore season with seven Division I scholarship offers and now Madison Southern running back Damien Harris says the number is around 15 or more.
That’s how impressive the 5-11, 205-pound Harris, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds, has been. He ran for 742 yards and 11 touchdowns on just 76 carries in 2011 as a freshman and came back last season to gain 1,911 yards on 160 carries and score 37 times. He also caught five passes for 176 yards and three more scores.
He got more physical last season when he found more time to get in the weight room — he had always played three sports before — and hopes to be even more aggressive this season after learning last year that teams often celebrated just for tackling him.
“A lot of times it can be like that. It gets frustrating. Every time you get tackled, they celebrate like they won a state championship, but it only makes me better,” said Harris. “It makes me not want to get tackled that much more so I can keep them from having that pleasure of tackling me. It is what it is. I have kind of accepted it through the years, so it is not that big a deal any more.”
He proved his speed is a “big deal” at the Class AA regional track meet at Boyle County Saturday. He won the 100-meter dash in and also helped Madison Southern win the 4×100 relay even though he’s still not at full speed. “It has been kind of hard for me conditioning wise. This was my first meet in almost two months where I had surgery on my elbow. That’s why I didn’t run the 200 (meter dash). I had a slight strain in my quad, too,” he said.
He’s not sure what caused his elbow injury.
“I just got to the point that I couldn’t straight in out and was in pain. I didn’t really have a significant injury to cause that,” Harris said. “I went to the doctor and they told me that I had extra bone growing off my elbow and it was causing extra scar tissue and arthritis. Whenever they did surgery, they shaved it down so I could get full extension in it. I will be 100 percent for football now.”
Harris prides himself on being prepared. He says he enjoys watching film and understands the value of blocking assignments and schemes. He also understands he needs a plan for what he wants to do this summer.
“I am going to try to make it up to Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama and maybe even Florida for the Friday Night Lights where you get to play in the Swamp under the lights at night,” Harris said. “I will make a few of those type trips. I am also actually going with one of my linemen to support him at one of his combines up in Chicago. I will be pretty busy seeing what places are about.”
He plans to make a trip to Kentucky “every now and then” this summer. However, he says he is already “pretty close” to UK head coach Mark Stoops, offensive coordinator Neal Brown and running backs coach Chad Scott.
“They are all great guys. I will definitely stay in touch with them and make some of their practices and stuff. I was at the spring game. I will definitely stay in touch with those guys,” Harris said.
He tries not to let his abundance of scholarship offers impact his daily routine.
“I try not to think about it. I want to stay grounded, stay humble. I know that I am not there yet. There are still a lot of things I have to work on,” he said. “It is hard at times to be humble. I am not going to deny it is hard. But I was raised by a good mother and she definitely keeps me grounded.
“My coaches tell me to just try to be thankful for everything I have because it is a blessing to do everything I do. I try to stay humble and thank God for all he’s blessed me with. Focus more on my grades and then what I need to do on the field versus how many offers I have.”
He won’t set individual goals for this season.
“Every year my No. 1 goal is get better and win a state championship. I don’t want to get individual accolades because there are 11 men on the field, not just one,” Harris said. “I definitely try to make team goals instead of me goals. In the end, a state championship with my team is much better than state player of the year. I don’t really have that many goals for myself other than definitely win a state championship. That’s the one goal I want.”
That’s part of why he runs track. He likes to stay in shape, but says he also “loves winning” and pushing himself to win.
“If there is something to do because I think I can win, I do it because I love to be a winner,” he said.
He’s not sure if he can win the 100-meter dash at the Class AA state meet in Louisville Friday.
“It is a tough question. I have been off for a while. but I don’t ever consider myself an underdog. I always consider myself to be not the best but to have the best chance,” Harris said. “You have to go in with that mindset that you are going to win under any circumstance. Not in an arrogant or cocky way. I feel like I still have a good chance to come in first. If I do, it will be great. If I don’t, it will just give motivation to work even harder for next year.”
He has paid attention to how hard the Kentucky coach staff has been working in recruiting and noted how Conner quarterback Drew Barker, a four-star recruit, picked UK over South Carolina last week.
“I am not going to want to go somewhere where I am the only recruit … where other people commit takes into play where I want to go,” Harris said. “If a good quarterback commits to a school, I will look into that. A good quarterback and a good running back duo, that’s always a plus.
“As far as other players at my position, I don’t like to go somewhere another top running back will go. I don’t want to really share with somebody else. I would like to be that guy that gets the carries, that gets the tough yards and stuff like that. I take it into consideration”
He knows Brown’s high tempo offense at Kentucky could create a lot of opportunities for playmakers to touch the ball, something he says appeals to him..
“More carries gives me a better opportunity to show people what I can do. But 30 or 40 carries a game is hard work. Not saying I wouldn’t be up to the work, but it makes things harder versus 15 to 20 carries like coach Brown seems to like for a back,” Harris said. “But that is kind of how our offense is. We like to run 80 or 90 plays a game and if I were to go there, it would be an easy fit for me because I would be used to running so many plays already and I like that offense.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky has added another football commit as three-stay Maryland safety Kobie Walker (@BeyondBelief on Twitter) announced on Twitter Monday night that he was joining the Wildcats.
One source called him a “big-time linebacker” and indicated there would be more commitments coming soon. The 6-3, 205-pound Walker is one of the players that Conner quarterback Drew Barker said he planned to call after he verbally committed to UK last week.
Walker plays at Our Lady Good Counsel High School in Olney, Md., one of the top football programs in the nation most years. It also shows that new UK coach Mark Stoops is going to continue to extend UK’s recruiting reach different ways but still stay within a reasonable drive time to Kentucky to make it more attractive to recruits.
“Walker is a big time athlete for the UK defense and is probably way better than what he is rated,” the source said.
He is ranked 36th nationally at his position by Rivals.com. He had scholarship offers from Arizona, Boston College, Oklahoma State, North Carolina State, Rutgers and Miami (Fla.).
Walker joins Barker along with five Ohio players — defensive end Tymere Dubose, linebacker Dorian Hendrix, running back Mikel Horton, tight end Darryl Long and receiver Thaddus Snodgrass — in UK”s 2014 recruiting class.
While she was training in Colorado for the Jennie Carol’s Memorial Mother’s Day 5K Run, Allison Tamme would often think about Jennie Tarter and her unexpected death in 2008 that led to friends starting this event in downtown Danville to honor her memory by raising money for BackPack Kids.
“Training in Colorado is a whole different animal. The altitude and hills are no joke out there,” she said. “I would be tired and my ankle or knee would be hurting, but then I would think how she would love to be out running with her sons. That gave me perspective. I was out running for 30 minutes because I knew I wanted to be able to run this race that supports such a good cause and honors a great memory. There was no doubt I would do it.”
Tamme, 28, also has another motivation — she’s a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer recently and underwent successful surgery (she had a check-up in Lexington Monday). But the “C” word scared her just like it would any of us.
“I had always worked out but it was because I had not done something in a while or I felt like I should run or I had a gained a pound or something like that,” she said.
Then she found out four things can help prevent cancer — environment, genetics, diet and exercise. She knew then she could control 50 percent — diet and exercise — to aid her recovery.
“I started running as soon as I was allowed after surgery,” she said. “I started training for this run. I wanted to do it with my family.”
That included her husband, Jacob, a tight end with the Denver Broncos who had never run a 5K and “dreaded it like the plague,” according to his wife.
“He was complaining that would be my Mother’s Day present. He was all worried and when we finished he was not even out of breath,” she said. “The most he had ever run in his life was a mile maybe. But he was talking the whole time and kept asking me if I wanted him to push (their son) Luke (in the stroller). I had to finally tell him to stop talking because I couldn’t run and talk. But he was a good sport about it. I was a happy mother.”
Jacob’s father, Theo — he ran the Derby Festival mini marathon a few years ago — also ran. Jacob Tamme pushed Luke the first 30 yards or so before Allison took over and finished the race with the stroller as she planned.
“I had planned to do this along,” Allison Tamme said Monday. “Jacob had work stuff, but he got it worked out to come home for Mother’s Day before he flew back today. It was really important to me that we did this all together.”
She said the prayers so many had said for her in recent months had been a “huge deal” and she still couldn’t put into words even now what it meant to have so many praying for her recovery.
“It is so important to know that other people are praying for you daily,” she said. “When you are at your lowest and hear you have cancer, nothing brings you down faster than that. Being a Christian, when you have hard times, you pray. But there were points when I did not even pray for myself. I didn’t know what to pray for. To know others were lifting up prayers for me was awesome. It still brings tears to my eyes when someone still tells me they prayed for me. It means the world to me.”
She was overwhelmed by the support after her husband put a message on Twitter the night before her surgery.
“People all over the country, and even foreign countries, were sending me messages of support. It was unbelievable,” she said.
She said her experience Saturday was “awesome” and she knows the work it takes to put on such a big event.
“I just ran three miles. I am thankful to those who organized this for putting on such a great event to honor her (Tarter) and raise money for a great cause. I know the work it takes to do something like this,” she said.
That’s because she is co-founder of Swings For Soldiers, an annual golf scramble, with her husband that raises money to build a new home for a disabled military veteran. The event will be July 15 at Keene Run Golf Club in Lexington.
“We went last year to actually see the house being built that our money was being used for and once we saw that, there’s no way we can’t do this again,” Allison Tamme said. “We will hopefully keep doing this every year to help the veterans. It’s a lot of work, but just like the race, there are some things you just do because you know that’s what you should do.”