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Is it a reasonable expectation to think Stoops should win 8 or more in 2015?

By LARRY VAUGHT

After yet another loss, the head coach tried to let fans know Saturday he was not happy either.

“I certainly don’t like the product we are putting on the field, and that’s my responsibility. I take full credit for that. When it’s good, it’s good. When it’s not good, it’s not good — and it hasn’t been good. And that’s on me,” the coach said.

“I’m not asking for anybody to be happy. I’m not asking anybody to give a pass. This is the real deal. My expectation I’ll guarantee is as high or higher than anyone sitting in those stands. There’s nobody more let down or hurt or competitive-edge dented a little bit by this. So it’s on me. We’ll get it turned. I can assure you that.”

While that could have been Kentucky coach Mark Stoops after the loss to Missouri, it wasn’t. Instead it was Florida coach Will Muschamp after his Gators  (4-5, 3-4) lost 34-17 to Vanderbit. It was Florida’s second four-game losing streak in his three seasons, fueling more speculation about his future.

But could that be Stoops in 2015? Kentucky was 2-10 in 2012 when Joker Phillips was fired. Kentucky likely will be 2-10 again this year. Stoops has a highly ranked recruiting class in 2014, but will the UK fan base get restless before he can rebuild.

“The only way to fix this is recruit, recruit, recruit,” one UK coach said after Saturday’s game.

True, but that takes time and will Stoops have that kind of time. Former UK player Dave Hopewell, a die-hard Kentucky fan, has claimed for years that UK needs to raise the bar for football expectations. He talks SEC championships, not Music City Bowl bids.

But Hopewell did stun me last week when he said he thought by 2015 that Stoops and his staff “should win eight or more games.” Eight or more? How often does that ever happen at UK?

Hopewell’s implication was that if UK has not made that much progress, a change likely would be needed. He pointed to the quick exit UK gave basketball coach Bily Gillispie after two miserable years as justification for not being overly patient in football.

Myself, I still think UK could be lucky to go 6-6 in 2015. Yes, the 2014 recruiting class is talented, but you don’t rebuild in one year in SEC football. Even Vanderbilt is slowly building success, but that success just makes it that much harder for UK to succeed.

But do you agree with Hopewell? What’s a reason expectation for UK in 2015?

 

 

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23 comments

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  1. UK2K

    Should is a strong word, has alot to do with the schedule and we won’t know that tell next year.
    To say change would need to be made is insane, if this staff can’t get it done larry I don’t know who can. It takes time.

  2. GEORGE

    I DO NOT THINK IT IS REALISTIC TO EXPECT 8 WINS FOR THE 2015 SEASON. I THINK OUR TALENT IS SO LOW CURRENTLY THAT WE WOULD NEED THE CURRENT CLASS BEING RECRUITED TO BE SENIORS BEFORE YOU CAN REALLY HOLD THE STAFF ACCOUNTABLE. WE MUST SEE PROGRESS IN HOW THEY PLAY BUT TO SAY THEY SHOULD BE IS WAY TO RAELISTIC.

  3. Ben

    6-6 is more realistic! It will take at least 6 to 10 years to build a program where we can expect 8 or more win. I have waited since 1970, to see KY football improve. 10 more years is not unreasonable! We must give this staff the only real chance we have had in the last 50 years! If not, it is just 4 more years and then punt.

  4. Coaching Reality

    How much longer until UK fans actually face the reality of the situation: Constantly changing coaches is not the answer.

    For cause? Yes. Phillips definitely needed to go. His staff wasn’t recruiting on the level of CMS’ staff and (as hard as it is to believe now) the product on the field was worse.

    If UK fires a coach who brought in the highest-ranked class in Kentucky history, is on pace to shatter the ranking record this year, and who is likely to repeat his 2014 success in 2015 without giving him at least 5 years to “recruit and develop” his own guys, I’ll be finished as a UK fan.

    CMS is responsible for the best offensive playmakers on this team, is responsible for the renovations happening at Commonwealth, and is trying to turn around one of the nation’s worst football programs.

    The fan abandonment occurring already this season makes me shake my head at those who think they “deserve” wins without ever suffering through the trying times as the team develops.

    I’ll say this: If the spring game turnout isn’t comparable, attendance continues to decline, and recruiting takes a nose-dive, fans can look directly in the mirror to place blame for recruiting failures. CMS is selling the future and fanbase support to recruits. Turns out, for all of the chest-thumping by vocal internet fans, this fanbase is as front-running as they come.

    1. KT

      Good post and I agree for the most part. I think fan support up to this point has been pretty good though, we are still a 2-8 team right now and to have 50+k there on Saturday wasn’t bad, particularly since the ones there for the most part wanted to stand and be loud. I also think most of the players understand that they need to produce on the field to really reel in the extremes of the fan base. The diehards like you and myself will always go and be supportive but to convert some of the other parts of the fan base, the non-football UK fans, they will only respond to results which I think will start coming in the next 2-3 seasons.

    2. Gene T.

      Coaching Reality, I totally agree with you. I have been a season ticket holder for years (20). If we don’t give this staff a chance for 4 to 5 years, and fans support this staff. I will also give up my tickets and parking pass. I will be there for the spring game. I also say if students don’t want to come to games, sell those seats. I see seats will be sold in the student section for the Tenn. game. Great! We were so far down withe the Joker years, it will take those years plus to get back to where Brooks brought us. Joker got 1 too many years. This staff knows what they are doing, so let’s keep our support behind them. If any one thought we would win big this year, then you need a reality check. GO CAT’S

  5. Ira

    Heck I’d love it, get us a QB for the air raid it’s possible. But to tell Stoops 8 or your out NO. Let the staff have 4-5 years. Let them build quality and depth.

    People forget that this past year’s class wasn’t a full recruiting class by Coach Stoops. This one 2014 headed by Barker will be his first full class. Look how may of these 2013 freshmen are playing. Look how many are expecting to play out of the 2014 class. In 2015 we are going to be nothing but FR, SO,JR, and whatever left of Joker’s last incoming class of RS SR’s playing. We will be a very young team out there. Young but hungry. Still inexperienced.

    I’d say 2016 is when UK will make a sudden leap in the SEC East. Even then we will be playing a number of 2015 class freshmen. I’d say the 2015 and really the 2016 class is where we start REDSHIRTING GUYS. Not b4. We problaly won’t back off on JUCO’s till after 2015 either.

    Be patient, let him build it. Then if you guy’s can wait think about this, we are the supreme powerhouse in basketball, we can build ourselves into a powerhouse in football, UK could be the most dominant team in 2 sports. The money that would roll in would be unbelievable. Think we are fanatics over basketball, good grief, let us rub it in about football as well, we’d be purely despised in sports. Be awesome wouldn’t it!

  6. JCC

    Stoops has done and is doing a tremendous job recruiting top notch players and if he continues to get the same quality of players UK will start winning! I do not care about this year’s record or next year’s record, only that we show improvements every year. We have an excellent coaching staff and a great fan base to boot. We must be patient and wait until Coach Stoops has his guys in the line-up. I strongly believe that once we have the right people in place we will start winning. One example is our secondary, the techniques they have them playing is top notch. The defensive backs are usually in position to make a play. In the past, they have been lost, never getting their head around to find the ball and being burnt. Things are getting better and they will continue to. Will we win eight games in 2015? We will be in a position to I promise you that.

  7. UKFMLY

    NO

  8. JJ

    It took Spurrier 5 years to get rolling at SC and there is better high school football in SC. It’s ridiculous to think you can get 8 wins playing a SEC schedule in the third year.

  9. Jim Harris

    UK2K: “if this staff can t get it done I don’t know who can”. Who can would probably be a high priced experienced HEAD coach with an established record and reputation that would draw top recruits– a 5-star and a long string of 4-star guys each year for example. I’m hopeful and supportive of our new staff but it’s obvious as I watch the games that we have a good young staff that is on an exponential learning curve, so the best we can hope for would appear to be a slow longer term gain of respectability in the SEC.

    Problem with the “super coach” concept is in getting one to agree to take over our moribund program. Probably more than just a big wad of money; he’d already have that. So it would take someone smarter than me to figure out how to do this.

    But it’s simply going to take Stoops&Co longer than most would hope for. BUT 8-4 is not totally out of the question in 2015. On a proportionate basis we could improve more than UT, Vandy, MSU, Arky, etc. because we have further to go and no matter what we think, the SEC is not top-to-bottom strong. Winning half of those 8 SEC games would not require a great team, just a fairly solid one that doesn’t make a lot of really dumb mistakes.

    Sure. UK fired Gillispie after only 2 years, but there was a lot more than W & Ls involved in that act. UK has a great deal invested in our current staff (not necessarily salaries) and will be patient at least through 2015. However, our staff has been around the business long enough to know that it always eventually comes down to wins and losses. And this season is a big disappointment to them as well as to the BBN unless a couple of upsets finish up our year–again, not inconceivable, just not likely.

  10. Larry Pup

    They can with the right athletes. UK needs bigger, stronger, meaner OL and DL asap They also need bigger, faster receivers, and an SEC QB. We have good RB’s now and more coming in 2014. I believe help is on the way all the way around. That is our hope and stay. With that said, I’m predicting a 7 and 5 season for 2015. But they just could slip in an eighth win. I agree that Coach Stoops is the man. Give him time to build this program. BBN must be patient as hard as that is. While all of us are frustrated, it does no good at all to be overly critical at this early date in the Stoops era.

  11. TomR

    No way, how many years has it been since we had both an Ohio and Deep South recruiting connection? We have the coach we need.

    1. larryvaught

      Preach it Tom R.

  12. Little Baron

    Stoops needs AT LEAST 5 years, if not SEVEN… go ahead and sign this entire staff to LONG TERM deals… SEVEN YEARS. Let’s pay the OC and DC enough to keep them around and let’s be sure recruits know they ARE going to play for THIS staff.

    In the meantime, someone needs to get Stoops AND/OR Brown in a corner and bend their ear… this a very supportive UK fan base, but we are NOT interested in a re-run of last year, with a few improvements here and there. Either Towles or Reese should have been the QB along with Smith, to start the season, and we would at least have a PASSING QB, A GENUINE QB, with some experience and ready to either run the AIR RAID next year (after running it all this year) or relinquish it to Barker if he should and could do it. A year has been wasted… plain and simple… by piddling around with a QB who CANNOT pass very far or with much accuracy. We do NOT need a QB getting more running plays than our running backs combined. It is not going to be good for team morale. Just a fact, folks. It’s NOT. If Whitlow was leading us to big wins/upsets, and we had 4 or 5 W’s at this point, it would at least be tolerable… but the fact is, our TEAM is NOT ready and NOT been trained and prepared for the Air Raid… physically, mentally, emotionally, subconsciously… we have wasted 10 games when looking at the big picture. Yes, some fine new players have shown promise, but we lost WKU and Mississippi State which we should have won, if a real QB, and even UL was a possibility if we had an offense to go with the defense that first half.

    1. WeRuk

      Who says their is even a real Qb on the team? I’m going to support and trust these coaches decisions. They didn’t think Philips or Towles gave us our best chance to win, why is that so hard for fans to understand. You gotta have the right players to run the Air Raid and we don’t have them right now, it will take time people.

  13. WeRuk

    Just an FYI, Stoops and his staff have been here 10months. Yes only TEN months people

  14. rebel4life

    I’m really impressed with the expectations in the rest of the comments. I have high hopes for this staff, but I will be the first to admit, I don’t know if the “Air Raid” can have long term success in the SEC. I expect UK to be back in a bowl game in 2015. I think we have a good staff, maybe the best one at UK in years, but this is not a great staff. BBQ me on that comment if you like, but a great staff would’ve beat WKU and Miss St. Reality is this is a first time coaching staff with no talent. Play has improved, but not enough for a one year turnaround. All that said, Stoops is a good hire, and I will be renewing my season tickets.

  15. Andy

    We can all agree this has been a tough season and it takes more than 1 recruiting class to fix the glaring issues we have on O and D. For one this team did not have an identity at QB, which led to lack of being any kind of deep threat. Running the QB for the most part is not the answer in the SEC as it could lead to the QB taking more hits. Th staff is trying to change a losing culture that has plagued this team.

    Next season we will have more depth at the WR position –
    Blue, Robinson,Timmons, Badet, Collins, Montgomery, Legree, Rashad Cunningham(if eligible), The Davis twins, Snodgrass, Blake Bone, TV Williams, Garret Johnson, Dorian Baker

    At running back we are stacked with Kemp, Mobley, Clemons, Hortel, Boom W and Braylon Heard. I do feel optimistic about the offense moving forward knowing we have 2 redshirt QB’s, and Barker coming in. Jalen will be challenged next season moving forward. Unfortunately, the odd one out is Max. Unless his shoulder improves, I do not see him being a factor moving forward.

    One of my concerns has been at tight end. I believe we have not recruited well at that position with only 1 tight end being taken. The OL needs to beef up and hopefully the experience this year will make them better next season.

    The SEC is a mans league and its brutal and even the likes of Will Muschamp is feeling the heat. This coaching staff will play a lot of freshman and redshirt freshman and there is no over night cure. We also need size to go along with talent just like the LSU’s, Alabama’s, Georgia and Missouri.

    1. UK2K

      As for the TE position..Borden will be a Senior next year and I expect big things from him. Shields will move back to TE and I expect Montgomery or another to change positions also. Also will have incoming freshman Daryl Long. TE depth will be fine

      1. Andy

        No way Alex Montgomery will move to TE. He is the big WR UK needs on the outside. That leaves us with Borden, Shields and new TE Darryl Long. Unless someine else makes a move that depth is not enough.

        1. UK2K

          How many do we need? If u watched any of Neal Browns offense at TT u would know 3-4 TEs is plenty. I will trust that the coaches have a plan for this, with the depth we will have at WR and how Brown runs his offense, depth at TE isn’t a concern

  16. Woohop

    How disappointing that Dave Hopewell would set unfounded expectations for 2015. This sort of statement is exactly what the program DOESNT need going forward. He evidently doesn’t believe in a Process…….yes, a Process of rebuilding where success is measured by Continued Improvement, driven by the confluence of recruiting good talent and good coaching. Success isn’t a number of victories as much as it is a new culture, competitive teamwork, executing and delivering on realistic expectations. To arbitrarily put a stake-in-the-ground with a demand of 8+ victories in the 3rd year of a complete rebuild screams of the ignorance of old that we must eliminate from our new culture. As Stoops says……let us Stay With This Team! By that, “This Team” is much more than the current players of 2013……..it is more so the New Teams built going forward by a new first class coaching staff who is trying to make UK an SEC quality program.

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