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Even UK football coach Mark Stoops did not expect this much fan support at Kentucky

Coach Mark Stoops talks to the media after Wednesday's spring practice. To view the video click on the photo.

Coach Mark Stoops talks to the media after a recent spring practice session. (Gary Moyers photo) 


This is part of a series with Kentucky head football coach Mark Stoops based on a recent interview with him that I hope will offer insights into his personality and philosophies that you have not read about before.

Question: What, if anything, has surprised you about the UK fan base and do you consider Kentucky a football state?
Stoops: “Yeah, it has, to be honest with you. I knew we had great support here. I didn’t know it would be to this extent so I’ve been very pleased — could not be more happy with the fanbase. I thank them, again to you and your segment that you’re writing, because they’ve been overwhelming at times. It does nothing but help. It helps with motivation of myself, the staff and the players. It helps motivate us each and every day to do better for them, because they deserve a great product. It helps in recruiting and it helps with the overall atmosphere of the whole campus, so I think it’s been a very neat experience and we greatly appreciate it.”

Question: Do you worry fan expectations could be too high this season, or is that what you prefer?
Stoops: “I really try not to — I stay away from that question. I dance around that question with a 10-foot pole because it’s not my style to downplay expectations.”

Question: Are high expectations a good thing?
Stoops: “I’m all for it. I’m going out to win each and every game. People say, ‘Well you’re crazy.’ Well I’m not into just turning over and forfeiting a game so we’re going to go out and we’re going to prepare to win each and every game. With that being said, you can’t ever get ahead of yourself. As a fan, you can. As a coach or as a player, you really can’t. Once we get into season, it’s every seven days. We look at that as one-week seasons. Win or lose, you put that last one behind you and you get onto the next one. Everything’s a process with us. I just stay away from it. I don’t know if there’s a right answer for that. I’m going out to expect to win and compete to win every game, and I think the fans feel the same way.”

Question: Does it amuse you that some UK fans are already worrying you will be so successful that you won’t be here long?
Stoops: “On what it says about what he and his staff have done that fans are worrying he will be so successful he’ll leave soon…
I’m certainly just settling in and starting to feel more and more comfortable each and every day here. I’m certainly not planning on going anywhere. I hope we have that issue that comes up because that’s a good thing. That means there’s a lot of people in this university helping us be successful, starting with our administration, to our players, to our coaches and so on. There’s a lot of people that are helping us do the right thing right now and putting us in a position to be successful. Our coaches are working extremely hard. I’m very happy with where we’re at right now, and there’s just so much more to go, just each and every day, each and every segment of that program that we talked about earlier, that we’ve really got to tap that each and every day to get better and move forward. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

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  1. Juan4UK

    Ha Ha! We got Larry’s notes! Editor where are you?
    Question: Does it amuse you that some UK fans are already worrying you will be so successful that you won’t be here long?
    Stoops: “On what it says about what he and his staff have done that fans are worrying he will be so successful he’ll leave soon…

  2. Juan4UK

    Really though, this stuff from Stoops is great. We certainly need more FB coverage. I’m starting to not feel “pain” every time I hear the term “Football”.
    And I think, for UK fans, that’s the Football misconception for our state and school. Football season has meant “pain” for many many decades (with a few exceptions for above average seasons). It hurts UK fans to feel the pain of inferiority.
    I’m sure that is going to change now. #KeepStoops

  3. TrueBlueJohn

    If coach Stoops is successful enough for other schools to come after him, that means that he has lifted UK into the upper echelon of the SEC. Then it becomes a desirable job, and it would become his program. He would have succeeded where so many others have failed. Remember that Florida State was the pits as a football program before Bobby Bowden came. Now every FSU coach will be measured against his yardstick. Let’s hope coach Stoops will be UK’s yardstick.

  4. Ira

    I think this staff especially the assistants turn this program around, they can practically write their ticket to anywhere.

    In regards to coach Stoops, I like to think positive once this program has been turned around, it may take 3-5 yrs, but if he is making runs at the SEC East every other yr or so why would he leave. Best conference. You know the pay raises would come very quickly.
    The man would be the Bear for us in the modern age.

  5. Jim

    Kentucky football fans are hungry for a winning program. Yes, UK is in the toughest division of the toughest conference in the nation. That being said, if Vandy can win, so can Kentucky. If the Cards can build a strong team, so can the Cats.

    A lot of die hard UK football fans, myself included, believe Stoops and his staff can get the job done. They have proven themselves already, with a highly regarded recruiting class ( by UK standards) in only a few months. I especially like that they went and got a few top juco guys that can help right away. This next class is shaping up to be much better.

    Stoops has given the keys to the offense to a proven coordinator, who puts up big numbers.

    This time around, it just feels different, like the athletic administration has finally found a great fit for the program.

    The staff still has to put a polished product out on the field. But, given the past performances of the head coach and his staff, I think the fan base will be seeing a competitive team that executes plays and has solid fundamentals.

  6. Tcat

    I hate to even say this but I really wish we could have followed coach Brooks with Stoops… If that could have happened it’s un telling where we would be right now.

  7. Larry Pup

    It will take time, but I say this staff turns it around. UK football is a sleeping giant.

  8. grant

    I am not sure about a sleeping giant, but , time is indeed what it is gonna take. Now some could say , well time is what the previous coach needed. No, not the case , there has to be a glimmer of hope , a sense of a program turning it around, there never seemed to be that feeling with the previous regime. And one of the 1st things that is most notably perceptable to the most avid UK football fan to the mild fan is how the recruiting fortunes are going with a new coach. And really , the way that coach Stoops hit the ground running in the recruiting arena gives that sense of hope, like there is light at the end of the tunnel , like maybe UK can be competitive. And I believe that as patient as a UK football fans can be, and have been they will be even more patient when they feel like they have a coach , like Stoops , who has indeed given the impression of what it takes to turn it around.

  9. Deeeefense

    Using the metrics of recruiting and fan support to judge, I’m wondering if any rookie football head coach has ever turned a low tier program around more dramatically then Coach Mark Stoops? I find it nothing short of amazing the national attention that has been drawn to a man that has never coached his first game as a FBS head coach.

    As a fan I feel like a child that has just set foot inside Disneyworld :)

    1. larryvaught

      Deeefense, easy to feel that way right now

  10. Tom

    I must have missed his answer to Lary’s question about did he consider Kentucky a football state.
    Maybe he won’t touch that one with a ten foot pole either.

  11. ukscat

    Our schedule is a “cruel mistress” – – two four win seasons and then a string of 6 or 7 win seasons will put Stoops in bronze outside CS.
    Oh yea, the yard-stick thing is already done – – that guy at UK in late 40’s early 50′ – – wore some kind of hat in latter years.

  12. poliglotcat

    Alabama was the only school with more people in the stands for the spring game. Just saying.

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