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Stoops gets help, inspiration from talking to Rich Brooks


Kentucky coach Mark Stoops got a little needed inspiration from a source familiar to UK football fans — former coach Rich Brooks.

The two talked Monday after Brooks returned to Lexington for last weekend’s Alabama game.

“I really enjoyed it. That’s the second time we got a chance to sit down and talk, and I love visiting with him and have a lot of respect for coach Brooks and what he’s done, and I want him to feel welcome and be around here,” Stoops said Tuesday. “He came to practice today and I asked him to talk to the team for a little bit, and it was great. It was a great message, and Coach was here and visited with the team for a few minutes, and I love that.”

Brooks, like Stoops, faced major problems trying to win when he took the job.

“He’s got a lot of experience and he really understands this place, and it does help. So it was good. He was actually telling me that – I forget what year it was – the year they took a thumpin’ (by) LSU and they had a bye week and they came back and won five of their next six,” Stoops said. “So that was good to hear.

“I’m not getting that far ahead of myself. I’m worried about one. I would just like to get one (win), but it was good to hear that. I think that’s where he started turning the program. It just clicked and it turned and they had some good success from there. So it was good to hear those stories and just visit with him.”

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  1. Larry Pup

    Coach Brooks is a good man and great football coach. He was very good for Kentucky football.

  2. Kokamo Joe

    Brooks made UK competitive in the SEC and he had that win over LSU. Yet, Brooks did not win more than 3 SEC games in any season. He did take UK to bowl games.

    So, do we use Brooks as the guide for the future of the UK football program? Will the fan base settle for Brooks like records? I say that we look higher and anticipate being equal to the midlevel SEC teams and that we rise above our perpetual bottom feeding. I would like to challenge the big dogs occasionally.

    Stoops shows great promise. He needs time. He needs three to four years to recruit and develop his players. I am a believer in Stoops. I think that he would agree….UK needs to raise it’s expectations.

    Larry, how do you see this program after 3-4 years?

    1. Gene

      Brooks inherited a true disaster that no one—NO ONE—wanted to be a part of.
      It took him three raucous years to achieve some semblance of competitiveness in the SEC. I still see the occassional bumper sticker reading “Ditch Mitch and Rich” among the Prius’ and other “green vehicles” operating within the confines of the evil empire to my north.
      Despite the naysayers he made great strides in bringing the UK football program to that semblance of competitiveness mentioned earlier.
      Unfortunately he made one HUGH mistake at the end of his tenure in Lexington and the program has suffered immeasureably ever since.
      It cannot be said he was but a middle of the road coach however. The entire football trainning complex at Oregon (or is it Oregon State?) is named for coach Brooks.
      His name is mentioned in muted tones out there.
      Coach Stoops may not be the X’s and O’s guy that Brooks was but the man seems to be able to recruit. He’s surrounded himself with a very good staff of assistant coaches and the kids seemingly want to play for him.
      To answer your question though. A ‘Brooks like record’ is indeed an interim goal. Something to use as a goal while on your way to true elite status in the SEC East. There are many others out there who would be worse, much worse for the UK program ( L.Kifen comes to mind) . Coach Brooks was a step up and coach Stoops can use his legacy to build upon.

      1. Kokamo Joe

        I like the word interim. And I like the idea that the Brooks level would be a good interim goal while the program is on the road to an elite status in the SEC East.

        Brooks made us competitive. How competitive? Look at the 2007 season. Brooks beat LSU, the eventual SEC champion. That has been unheard of in our history. He also beat Arkansas and Vandy. Yet, he lost to South Carolina, Georgia , Tennessee , Florida, and Mississippi…but UK was competitive in each game. The wins were also close. So UK could have won, or lost every SEC game that year. We won the UL game on a Johnson catch with less than a minuet left in the game. That has not happened often in decades.

        The frustrating thing is that the next year UK slipped to a 2-6 SEC record. We hung with #2 Alabama, losing only 14-17. Middle Tennessee challenged us but they lost 20-14. We were competitive except the Florida game.

        The next year we were 3-5 in the SEC and following that came Phillips.

        Brooks did get us competitive, but he never took us beyond the bottom of the SEC. That is what I hope that Stoops does. Given time and support (which I don’t believe Brooks got) from the University I anticipate something that those people under 70 year of age have never seen…a team that rises from the basement of the conference and is able to compete with the top SEC teams and beat most of the rest.

        Down the road, 3 to 4 years from now I hope that 2-6 and 3-5 SEC records will not be acceptable to the University or the BBN.

  3. Bill

    I think Stoops may set the standard for defensive X’s and O’s before all is said and done. I am definitely impressed by what this coaching staff has done.

  4. TrueBlueJohn

    When Rich Brooks stepped down as coach, the program was in the best shape that it had been for a new coach since Bear Bryant left town. There was no rebuilding needed, just improvement to get to the next level. Three short years later, we are back in a rebuilding mode. Mark Stoops is going to get it done, but it is going to take a couple more recruiting classes. The staff he has assembled is certainly a step up over the previous one.

  5. Jim Harris

    It’s only being honest among ourselves to admit that UK, except for a few brief exceptions, has always been an SEC football doormat and that Brooks has been good for the program this past decade. Many of us are expecting more from the Stoops regime—eventually. Largely because Stoops&Co. are in their element in this area recruiting-wise. Whereas Brooks was like a fish out of water here in the Southeast, about as far removed from his adoring fans in the Northwest territory as he could get. And Joker was his best recruiter. If Stoops can do as much relative to his talent as Brooks did with what he had, I think we’ll all be quite pleased.

    I don’t expect or “demand” that UK be an LSU, Alabama or Texas A&M. Over the long haul I’ll gladly settle for middle of the pack competitiveness in the SEC, some good bowl games along the way and not being continually embarrassed when the subject of football comes up. And I fully believe that much is achievable in the not too distant future—if the UK admin is supportive at a high level.

  6. RJ

    I have no doubt that Stoops can get this deal done, in time and if he is still here. I doubt that the fans are as hungry for a win that he is. The kids need a win, Stoops needs a win and the fans need a win….Go Cats.

  7. Ira

    I get to travel to TN, SC and talking when Brooks was Coach other SEC fans at least knew what UK was doing. Got to meet plenty of different SEC fans on vacation and I would quietly stir the conversation to UK just to see what they would say. Never got any bad words about Brooks program. Most said if he could get his recruiting better and a DC then UK could be a problem for other SEC teams. Then the Joke happened. I would do the same thing, and I would get, what in the heck is going on in Lexington??? Why did you guys get rid of Brooks??? They would shake their head, change the conversation so as not to offend me. Not that I didn’t whole heartedly agree.

    Now we got Coach Stoops. We are recruiting. Our defense had been ranked 9th in the conference b4 the Bama game. Think we will get to the level of Coach Brooks before to long, but I for one don’t think Coach Stoops will settle for that.

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