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Dick Weiss

Dick Weiss

By LARRY VAUGHT

Veteran college football writer Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News likes what he has seen from new Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops.  Weiss, who recently was named the 40th winner of the Bert McGrane Award given member of the Football Writers Association of America, has covered college football with purpose and integrity for 30 years.

Weiss has covered college sports for the New York Daily News since 1993 and before that held a similar post for 10 years at the Philadelphia Daily News. He has covered 40 NCAA Final Fours and 28 national championship college football game.

He shared his thoughts on Stoops and what he could do for Kentucky football.

Question: What is the perception of new UK football coach Mark Stoops nationally?
Weiss: “I think the family itself has created its own heritage. All of them have been successful as assistants and all of them have become head coaches. It is that whole Youngstown (Ohio) thing with (Jim) Tressell and Bo Pelini. It is a hard-nose football where they understand how to get things done. For the most part their defenses have been very, very good.
“I would rather try it with a young kid like this than this just another recycled coach or just elevate from the bottom. Just by osmosis, some of this stuff has to sink in. His brothers were pretty good at what they did. His one brother struggled as a head coach at Arizona, but he was an exceptional defensive coordinator and Bob won a national championship at Oklahoma and is always around the rock pile every year.
“When he came, I just had the feeling he was going to be able to use the brand name the family had built up to pick up much better recruits than this program is used to and spread his wings a lot further in terms of recruiting and getting into other states and having more credibility in the deep South, particularly Florida.”

Question: What do you think of the staff he has assembled?
Weiss: “I think this may be the best staff Kentucky has ever had top to bottom. He knows the business well enough, and if he doesn’t his brother Bob has a great mind in the business. I guarantee you they talked. There were conversations about who he should get to fill certain positions. It looks like they made all the right moves with the staff.
“You don’t hear anybody out there questioning anything about their staff. I have had questions about the previous coach, and maybe the previous three or four coaches that they have had in this program. At least he is going to give himself a chance to win. I didn’t always think Kentucky football had a chance to win.”

Question: What do you know about knew offensive coordinator Neal Brown?
Weiss: “He actually spent some time in Connecticut. He has been at Texas Tech, so he has been in the big leagues. He is young, so he will have youthful ideas. I am hoping that they aren’t afraid to open it up. The key for them is going to be defense. They have to be able to stop people, particularly the mid-major teams who have put over 30 points on the board. He has to find a way to keep the scores in the high 20’s to win against those teams he plays in the SEC.
“His division sadly has gotten a lot better in the last two or three years. Take away Alabama and LSU, and that’s taking away a lot, but I think the East was a deeper division this year and frankly Georgia came very close to being in the (national) championship themselves.”

Question: What is a realistic time frame to give a new coach in the SEC to build his program?
Weiss: “You need at least three years, and maybe even a fourth, to know for sure. After a fourth, you will know. It is not fair to him to not give him a full recruiting cycle. Or I don’t think it is. This is not going to be like Tennessee where you knew it was time for a change after three years. Kentucky has never won a national championship like Tennessee had. They never have had those Peyton Manning moments like Tennessee did in the early 1990’s or championship team that won the Fiesta Bowl. Kentucky is always struggling to get to those second-tier bowls and struggling to get any quality wins at all. I am hoping this guy can turn that around. I know one thing, if he does, the fan support will be through the roof. It was through the roof when they lost until this past year. I wouldn’t want to count the attendance last year, but those Kentucky fans love football and will go crazy for a winner like I think he can be.”

18 Responses to Veteran college football writer believes Stoops and staff will give Kentucky a chance to win

  • TrueBlueJohn says:

    Good article from a sports writer that I actually respect. However, I do have a question about one statement that he made. “I think this may be the best staff Kentucky has ever had top to bottom.” Mark Stoops has assembled a great staff that I am very excited about, but history will prove if that is a true statement. I certainly hope that he is right, but Blanton Collier put together a staff in 1959 that had Ed Rutledge, Howard Schnellenberger, Ermal Allen, Don Shula, John North, Bob Cummings and Bill Arnsparger. Most of those coaches wound up coaching in the NFL, and certainly Don Shula was one of the all-time greats.

  • Hoffmeyer says:

    Thanks TrueBlueJohn. I was fortunate enough to have been there when Collier had his staff. Leeman Bennett and Chuck Knox are two more names that were on that staff. Bennett coached the Atlanta Falcons and Chuck Knox coached about 4 NFL teams as a head coach. So record corrected , it does seem that they are trying to assemble a competitive coaching staff. Best of luck with them.

    • TrueBlueJohn says:

      Thanks, I had forgotten about Bennett and Knox, so with Shula, John North, and Bill Arnsparger, there were five future NFL head coaches on that staff. Also, Ermal Allen was an assistant coach under Tom Landry for years on the Cowboys. We all know the great career that Howard Schnellenberger had as a college coach. That was an impressive staff.

      • Kokoma Joe says:

        Re: Great coaches, NFL coaches

        We have had good coaching staffs in the past. Why did UK continue to lose? That is the eternal question. Can UK win in the SEC? Can UK rise above the bottom feeders and STAY THERE for a reasonable amount of time. Will UK ever rise to the middle of the SEC and be able to occasionally compete with the best and win the national championship without cheating?

        I agree that this coaching staff needs 3 to 4 years to make a statement. I hope the statement is positive.

        • UKFAN197TONE says:

          I doubt this staff will need to resort to cheating. Not that you were insinuating that they would. With their track records, why would they even attempt to cheat.

          • RJ says:

            In recent memory at least, when KY won, it did so with talent from out of state in large part. It’s all about recruiting. The state of KY just does not have the critical mass of talented football athletes to win with mostly in state players.

            It would be an interesting study to correlate the number of 4 and 5 star high school athletes produced by a state whose population is greater than 3 million and the number of cities whose populations are greater than 500,000. Want to make a bet that the correlation would be in the 95th percentile? Also, I would suggest that the following hypothesis would also be worth taking a look at: The number of 4 and 5 star athletes per capita produced by states is roughly the same regardless of population (you would have to do a Chi-Square test on this). The results might surprise you.

            I also think that the results of the above will explain why KY cannot win with mostly in state athletes. Critical mass!

          • larryvaught says:

            This football staff is going to recruit just fine. All have proven recruiting records

          • Kokamo Joe says:

            Re: cheating
            Actually I was refering to Fran Curci’s 1977′s team which actually moped up the SEC for the first and last time. Curci’s team was under a thunder cloud of suspension.

            I firmly believe that UK has learned from past mistakes and that there will be no more Mumme or Sutton blunders.

  • TrueBlueJohn says:

    Joe, this certainly looks like our best opportunity to become relevant in a long time.

  • Larry Pup says:

    Great article. This is no doubt a great staff. The proof will be in how well they recruit. We all know they can coach.

  • Ira says:

    We’ll know with this staff in three or four years, Was it a flash in the pan, or do they have the staying power to make something happen in the SEC. Right now we feel like we see some of the best recruiting in ages, and it makes all of us feel great. But until theses kids being recruited, current roster, buckle their chin straps on, we have no idea how good as coaches this staff will be. Right now the excitement comes from recruiting. Hopefully we get great momentum off the spring game and it carries into fall.

    I hope our first game we just not only beat our opponent, but break their bones that night so everyone in the SEC realizes three is a new team in the SEC. UK Wildcats. Bring the pain Mark Stoops

    • Jim says:

      To the “break their bones” poster,

      Have you been watching too much fake wrestling on tv? How can anyone desire to see players get injured?

      • Juan4UK says:

        I’m I’m pretty sure the break their bones comment was just a ref to a convincing fashion of winning. Stout defends and margin of victory.

      • Ira says:

        Jim OMG, here is this better for you, swish boom bah rah rah rah take that victory, but don’t push them around, don’t knock them out of the way to get a score, it’s politically correct football I forgot.

        Just so you know Jim, break their bones is a very old euphanism for totally defeating your enemy on the field of battle. Conquering them, vanqueshing them. That is what UK needs to do. Wait a minute.. That is what Bama does every chance they get, get the idea now. Everybody knows they are the undisputed #1 in the nation, UK needs to play the same way, every snap, every game, every practice. Get the idea now.

  • Love SEC F-Ball says:

    Great article Larry – Good questions.
    I enjoy hearing from Weiss – Seems to have a lot of “Common Sense”

    • larryvaught says:

      Hoops Weiss is best known for basketball coverage, but really is a football guy and very respected

  • Larry Pup says:

    C-J is reporting that Charlie Strong is now the 7th highest paid coach in college football with his new 8 year deal worth $3.7 mil per year, and that is before a slew of performance and retention bonuses. Whoopty DOO!!! GO CATS!!!! Beat Louisville!!!!

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