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Mark Stoops has reasons for opting out of Governor’s Cup but sponsors and honorees hurt by decision

Even though Kentucky officials say that head coach Mark Stoops told the Governor’s Cup months ago that he would not attend Wednesday’s annual luncheon Louisville, news Monday that the second-year UK head coach has opted out was a bit surprising.
Every indication about the event indicated that both head coaches — Stoops and Bobby Petrino of Louisville — would be there along with Gov. Steve Beshear and other celebrities.
The luncheon and golf event  raise money for Dare to Care. The event started when the rivalry was renewed and the game was played to start the season. The idea was to promote the season-opening game and generate more talk and interest about football in the state. Even when UK elected to have the game the third week on years it hosted the rivalry, the Governor’s Cup luncheon and golf scramble still went on in July. This year the game has been moved to the season-ending game in late November.
“Coach looked at the event and his schedule and driving to Louisville doing a news conference and then driving back to Lexington would take a full day and he did not think that made the best sense for a game scheduled the last week and is four months away,” Evan Crane of UK media relations said. “He thought it best to invest his time in practice planning and recruiting. He thought that was better than talking now about a game that is the last game of the year.”
Stoops, though, will still speak to the Rotary Club in Lexington and a UK alumni event in Louisville Friday but the emphasis will be on the season, not the UK-Louisville game.
Petrino apparently still plans to stop by the luncheon. He will not hold a press conference, but he will be available to local media members. That has Louisville fans blasting Stoops for not having the same regard as Petrino for the event.

While Stoops certainly has a right to choose where he will or will not speak — and he is not one who seems to overly enjoy public speaking — there are several issues here.

First, those who sponsored the event or agreed to pay to play golf thinking the head coaches would be there have to be disappointed. The event’s website Monday still read “join Governor Beshear and the head coaches for a day of golf” in Louisville.

Second, I feel bad for the honorees from both schools. Former Louisville players Larry Ball, Roman Oben and Chris Redman will be honored along with former Cats Wilbur Hackett, Warren Bryant and Dean Wells.

I feel especially bad for Hackett, who played at UK from 1968-70 and was the first African-American to be named a team captain and one of the first African-American football players in the Southeastern Conference. Armed guards once had to protect him during a game against Ole Miss. He was a three-year starting linebacker at UK, making him the first African American to start in any sport at UK.

His role in integrating the SEC — along with three other African-American teammates — has largely been overlooked. even at UK. There has been a push lately by some of Hackett’s former teammates to have a monument at UK honoring him and teammates Nat Northington, Houston Hogg and Greg Page for their part in integrating UK athletics and the SEC. There’s even talk of a potential movie.

Crane said Kentucky athletic officials will be at the luncheon in honor or Hackett, Bryant — perhaps the best offensive lineman ever to play at UK — and Wells. Still, this controversy again takes away from the recognition for Hackett, Bryant and Wells and that’s unfortunate.

And as one who had attended every Governor’s Cup luncheon to hear the head coaches, visit with assistant coaches from both schools and start the UK-Louisville hype, it’s easy to see why having the game to close the season makes the event no longer feasible in its current format.

However, it’s still also sad to see an event that has promoted charitable endeavors and raised awareness for UK and Louisville football just go away.


Permanent link to this article: http://vaughtsviews.com/mark-stoops-has-reasons-for-opting-out-of-governors-cup-but-sponsors-and-honorees-hurt-by-decision/


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  1. TheProfessor

    Coach Stoops’ stock just went up several points with this decision. In my opinion, UK has made a fundamental error for years by giving UL a place on the stage with UK, and this series has been a lose-lose proposition for the UK program since day 1. Wins garner a big yawn, losses garner a huge gasp.

    End it as soon as possible Coach Stoops.

    1. Mick

      Very well said, Professor!!

    2. Love SEC F-Ball

      Agree with Prof. – Well said

      1. Larry Pup

        So let me get this straight boys, while Louisville owns UK in football, we just turn tail and run because we are so much better than they are? Yet UK can’t seem to find a way to beat them in football these days. I dislike Louisville athletics with a passion and always have, but ignoring them is just plain cowardly. By the way, replace them on the schedule with who?, I assume some cupcake school we can beat up on and then sit around and talk about how bad (great) UK is, get real! I want to see UK beat their brains out in everything! Right now that is a pretty tall order, say what you will, but it is true. UK should not run from that bunch, but find a way to embarrass them. Let them be the one who wants out.

  2. Darrell

    If Coach Stoops told them months ago that he wouldn’t be there then it is his fault that they still advertised it and built it up saying what they knew wasn’t true!

  3. Larry Pup

    Coach has to make the best use of his time, but he’ll catch some heat for this decision IMO. I don’t like Louisville one bit, but the rivalry is good for the state, both in football and basketball. Stoops probably should bite the bullet and attend. Louisville owns UK right now in football, to stay away from this event looks sort of “chicken shit” to me. He could go this year out of respect for the sponsors, and say no more will he attend in the future unless the format is changed to comply with the game’s scheduled date.

  4. Randal Lanham

    I too think the troublemakers here are the event planners that mislead people about who would be there and the media trying to turn reality into soap. Coach Stoops was honest and transparent while the people in Louisville were taking a play from Jurich and mislead folk about the event for months and then use the media inept reporting to make Stoops the source of their heartburn. If people are disappointed they were mislead for months then the blame lies at the planners feet and that should be the story because that is the story. The only reason this is a story today is because it wasn’t reported to and by the media when it actually happened.

  5. Kokamo Joe

    This even has not been about previewing the game. It has been about gearing up excitement for the season and for juicing up high school football in the state. We are long past this little brother stuff, especially in football since UL is clearly the better program now. I expect that Stoops wants to downplay UL in the hope that it sends a message to Kentucky high school kids that UK is the place to go. The best way to really send this message is to simply improve to the point that UK dominates the series. If the truth were known, I expect that both UK and UL would like to drop the game and replace it with a fourth cupcake. Anyway, the snub will be felt by people from the governor on down.

  6. paul

    Joe, new SEC guidelines will require a yearly game with a power conference member. Would you rather schedule a home and home with Oklahoma, FSU, or USC (and more than likely get drubbed ) or bring in a no-interest bottom feeder like IU, Boston College or Washington ST. ??
    UL is the logical choice to fill this prerequisite. I think our success ratio will be on the uptick against the birds !!

    Also, if Coach Stoops did indeed inform them months ago he gets a mulligan from me.

    1. Kokamo Joe

      Paul: At one time it looked like the SEC was going to a 9 game SEC schedule and they do seem to push scheduling at least one out of conference game with a team from of the power conferences. Personally I like the game with UL. It brings interest to the state and IMO it has stimulated high school football. Most SEC teams do have in state rivals.

      The rival game with UL brings pressure for both teams to improve. Neither wants to be dominated by the other. IMO that makes both programs better.

      I do think that Stoops made a mistake on this one. It is bad PR. I do wonder why this event has been scheduled in Louisville recently instead of being scheduled on alternate years in Lexington.

      1. Larry Pup

        I think the luncheon should be held in Louisville if the game is to be played at Louisville, and at Lexington if the game is at Lexington. Starting next year, have the luncheon mid week before the game. I agree with Joe on this. I think Stoops should attend, or send Brown or Eliot. as UK’s representative, but to blow it off seems a bit odd to me.

  7. clancyhat

    It’s for charity – Stoops should go or send an assistant.

  8. SoddyCat

    The total disrespect that Petrino, Pitino, Jurich and the entire UL fan base has shown toward UK since this series started with UL in both basketball and football is reason enough for UK coaches to forego public appearances with these jerks. Especially Petrino and Jurich. They despise UK. We owe them nothing but paybacks. It is coming.

    1. Kokamo Joe

      Soddy: Document that disrespect.

      1. Love SEC F-Ball

        Do you want the documentation with or without Petrino’s curse words?

  9. Tom

    I think its funny that Stoops has such disregard for something that has become a tradition. Forget the fisrt game of the season
    That ship sailed long ago.
    It’s a CHARITY. event.
    Its signals the start of major college football in the State of Kentucky. Of course with Tennessee Martin occupying his thoughts I think we can understand his concern.
    How important is the game to each team. Louisville has a 4-0 run going so does Kentucky need them on the schedule? Absolutely not. He problem is they have to play a Power Five. team. LOL is there really one we could beat?
    Stoops doesn’t give any value to the series. Sort of like giving any value to the SEC teams As long as er can play. OVC teams, a bunny from the MAC and stay away from WKU, heck, we l’re good ad any other team in the last several years.

  10. Jennie

    Larry Puppy and Kookie Joe, quit trolling and go back to the Dirty Bird blogs–we don’t care what you think about our wonderful coach Stoops. He’s not going–get over it. Go Cats!

    1. Larry Pup

      Hey Jennie, been a UK fan all my life. Hate UofL with a passion. There is no one on this blog that dislikes them more than I do. Just expressing my opinion about a tradition that has been around since this rivalry was renewed. Stoops needs to go to that luncheon or send one of his coaches. We all have to do things in life we would rather not do. I am a big time Stoops fan, but he don’t walk on water, right is right and wrong is wrong.

  11. Larry Pup

    Let me just add that I feel sorry for the UK football greats that will be recognized at that event, guys like Wilbur Hackett, Warren Bryant, and Dean Wells who will not have a UK football coach even there. I saw all those guys play their guts out for UK in years past. It ain’t right .

  12. Ira

    Maybe the luncheon etc could have been moved to the end of the season. Parsed it down a bit if needed. UK advised them months ago Coach Stoops wasn’t attending, so they had plenty of time to rearrange the schedule, venue, everything.

    I understand it’s a charity event, but they will raise money regardless, and bottom line Coach Stoops has to look out for UK. We were a 2-10 team last year. We are in the midst of a monumental rebuild trying to climb one of the the toughest ladders in the nation, the SEC. So if he says it’s a waste of time for a game that is played 4 months away, then yeah I believe him.

  13. UKFAN197TONE

    Charity or not (I’m sure he donates his fair share), if Coach informed “them” months ago…it’s their fault for advertising it.

    It is unfortunate the past UK greats won’t see Coach Stoops there, but I’m sure he will address them at a later date. Maybe something will be done ON CAMPUS to honor them and not in another city!

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