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Stoops on putting Sanders in Senior Night: “I didn’t want that to define Raymond for the rest of his time”

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops faced a difficult decision on senior Raymond Sanders, his leading rusher and a player he consistently praised all season for his leadership.

Sanders was suspended for UK’s final game against Tennessee, the same game where UK’s senior would be honored in a pregame ceremony. Did he ban Sanders from participating since he was suspended? Did he let him participate because of what he had meant to the team all season?

Stoops opted to let him participate with 18 other teammates in the pregame ceremony and he received a nice ovation from Kentucky fans.

“He made a mistake.  You know, he didn’t make a mistake to dismiss him from the team,” Stoops said after the game. “He just couldn’t play in this game.  I don’t see why ‑‑ I didn’t want that to define Raymond for the rest of his time for all that he did.  That wasn’t, in my opinion, the right thing to do.”

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think of Stoops’ decision and his loyalty to Sanders for what he did from the time Stoops arrived until he did make his one mistake.

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11 comments

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  1. Charlie Perkins

    Discipline, with compassion and appreciation. There is much to like with Coach Stoops.

    1. larryvaught

      Charles, Bob Valvano just mentioned your comment and how fitting it was while I was on ESPN 680 in Louisville with him. Well done

  2. TT

    Coach Stoops continues to impress me. Coaching is more than recruiting. It is more than
    schemes or X’s and O’s. It is investing yourself in your team. It is being a father figure.
    There are times when compassion and understanding are needed. There are times when “tough love” and disciplinary action needs to be taken. There are times when you need to base your coaching decision on the individual, and sometimes you need to base your decision on what’s best for the team. Coach Stoops knows this.
    We are so blessed to have him leading the Wildcats ! Go Cats!!

  3. Anonymous

    Totally agree. We all make mistakes. Coach stoops is a class act.

  4. Lori Metcalf

    It’s exactly what I hoped he would do for exactly the reason I thought he should do it. I agree with all the posters above. This team and this coaching staff have such upside potential and I think we will be excited with them in the next year or two. The naysayers would be there if the Cats went 12-0. You just cannot satisfy some people. I’m all in and plan on staying in the boat for at least 5 years to give this staff a chance.

  5. Larry Pup

    Coach did the right thing. Raymond did not play in his last collegiate game. That in itself is punishment enough.

  6. RJ

    It was the right thing to do. It would have been better if the suspension were not necessary at all.

  7. John Blakeman

    Great job Coach Stoops!!! A good message sent to him, the team, and recruits. Our Lord forgives and I think we should as well.

    1. larryvaught

      Well put JOhn Blakeman. Sanders did a lot of good this year, helped lot of UK’s freshmen.

  8. Ira

    Coach Stoops keeps showing what being a HC is all about.

  9. Gene T.

    I can’t add a single word to any of these comments. I agree 100% . Just wish it didn’t happen, but coach Stoops made the right call. I totally trust Coach. Nice to have that feeling! GO CATS!

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