Most Recent Posts
- Swiss Cat Part 2: Larry continues his adventure in Switzerland
- Brumbaugh understands junior college talent, feels he can bring JUCO players to UK
- Volleyball training, personality will both help Marcus Lee at Kentucky
- UK coach Mark Stoops was patient with Neal Brown because he was “all-in” on hiring him
- UK signee Marcus Lee overcame early education struggles to succeed in academics, athletics
- No. 12 Kentucky and No. 5 Arizona State to start best-of-three NCAA Super Regional set Saturday at 10 p.m. ET
- Stoops: Hiring Neal Brown to run Kentucky offense was a “no-brainer for me”
- Nunley, Cumbess Propel No. 12 UK Softball to Super Regionals
By ASHLEY SCOBY
If you woke up on a Saturday morning in Lexington during this past football season, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t have been able to tell if there was a home game at UK or not, unless you were actually at the stadium. How campus looked on game days in 2012 was almost identical to how it looked on the Saturdays when the football team was on the road: minimal traffic, a couple of people roaming around with a blue shirt on, and the occasional sound of music from a passing car.
Well, stadium traffic still hasn’t changed a lot, but the vibe of campus has taken a drastic turn this week.
With the announcement of Mark Stoops becoming Kentucky football’s new head coach, students have suddenly become football fans again. While there has always been a core group of students (and fans within the general population) that has stuck by the football team through hell and high water, many backed off the bandwagon this season. Attendance figures would certainly suggest that, especially the number of people in the student section during the latter half of the season.
Everything changed once UK Athletics sent out that press release officially welcoming Stoops to the Wildcat family. I was at the Health Science building when news broke on Twitter, and there wasn’t a soul in that building that wasn’t talking about it: “We got Stoops!” and “You hear the big news?” continued to echo through the hallways for two hours.
The hiring of Stoops has been a unifying force for UK fans, and students in particular. With the excitement that a new basketball season brings, students often welcome the end of football season with open arms. But now, walking around campus, it’s as if the Blue-White spring game can’t come soon enough. UK students are once again united as one with something other than basketball.
“I’m stoked that a coach with as much respect around the country as Mark Stoops was willing and eager to take over at UK,” said Wes Henderson, a senior at UK. “I hope this shuts a lot of people up about UK’s interest in being a seriously respected football program. This is a step in the right direction. As long as he brings in a good core of coaches and UK follows through with the improvements around the stadium that were promised, we have a good chance at putting out quality football teams.”
Henderson is a religious sports fan and a regular at UK sporting events. But even students who don’t have the same credentials were caught up in the Stoops storm Tuesday.
“I didn’t go to a single football game this year; I just tailgated,” said Nikki Klein, a UK sophomore. “I really don’t know anything about the team, but my Twitter was blowing up yesterday. It’s crazy that UK hiring Stoops even got non-sports fans interested in football. Football season will be a lot more fun this year.”
Klein was certainly right about Twitter. The most popular pun on Stoops’ name was “Stoop, there it is!” but many others made the rounds on the social networks. T-shirts have even been made that say “Stoops’ Troops,” for example.
Tony LaRue, another student at UK, said that Cats fans should play off the phrase “Big Blue Nation” to better fit Kentucky’s new coaching situation.
“How about Big Stoops Nation?” LaRue said. “That’s what it’s about to be, a big Stoops nation. UK football is going to get big, and it’s going to be BSN, like BBN. It has a good ring to it.”
After a season-ending, 37-17 loss to Tennessee to cap off a 2-10 season, Kentucky football was at one of its lowest points in years. And out of nowhere, with the hiring of Stoops, the excitement for Kentucky football is now at maybe the highest it’s been in years.
Come football season, maybe Lexington will be able to tell the difference between gameday in the Southeastern Conference and just a regular Saturday afternoon. When that time comes, we’ll have Mark Stoops to thank.