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Mark Stoops knows culture has changed at Kentucky

Mont Dawson Photo

By LARRY VAUGHT

From the day he got to Kentucky, Mark Stoops talked about changing the culture of Kentucky football that was left behind with the firing of Joker Phillips.

It was a lot of the same things that Rich Brooks said when he got to Kentucky and had to persevere before eventually leading UK to four straight bowl games — and a win over eventual national champion LSU in 2007.

Stoops thinks the Citrus Bowl win over Penn State that gave UK its first 10-win season in 41 years helps verify that the culture is changing.

“There’s no question that these guys change the culture. As I mentioned many times, it’s really easy to change the climate of a program. Culture is deep, deep, deep rooted for a long, long period of time,” Stoops said.

“It takes a lot to overcome and change that. And these guys did that.

 And, yes, by finishing games with a physicality and finding a way to win rather than finding a way to lose is changing the culture, and it comes with being physical. There’s no getting around it. It is what it is. You look at the top programs and you look around the country and, you know, it’s built on physicality.”

Stoops said his older brother, Bob, who won a national championship while coaching at Oklahoma, taught him those lessons.

“I had a chance to watch him for 20 years and watch him win a national championship in his second year. And with my father and Bob and my brother, and just so many people, I’ve had great people to follow,” Stoops said.

“I’ve been blessed to be around quality people and good to have him here. And just need to try to win a couple championships to catch up to him, but at least we’ll bring home a bowl championship.”

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  1. Not really. There is a noticeable absence of 5 star recruits coming to KY. KY still doesn’t believe it can beat Alabama, LSU, or Georgia. KY will always be an also ran in the SEC until those two things change.

  2. I do believe the culture of UK football has changed a lot under Stoops. To see it any other way is not being fair IMO. That said, if UK don’t start getting it’s fair share of 5 star football talent nationally, they will not win an SEC championship or a national championship anytime soon. They may win 7 or 8 games a season, and go bowling, and that is changing the culture in this basketball crazy state from Kentucky football of the past. Stoops has already done that. But lining up against teams like Georgia and Alabama in the SEC and beating them, they are not there yet. Not even close.

    1. Larry, it’s not going to happen until Kentucky high school programs start producing the four and five star recruits. Why would a kid from Florida, Georgia, or Texas sign with a school where they will play half their season in Green Bay Packer weather ?
      Unfortunately the state’s mentioned produce as many as forty times (or more) the potential 4/5 star kids as does Kentucky. If coach Stoops can overcome that he’ll be 80% on his way towards the idea that he can compete with the Alabama’s of the world. Of course Kentucky’s high schools have to cooperate. I think the year was 2015 . Texas had close to 500 kids labeled as potential D1 recruits. KY had 56 during the same period. Nothing changes until more home grown products are in the pipeline.

      1. You are right PK, but if UK don’t find a way to attract top football talent outside this state they will never compete for championships in this league. Take UT, they play in the same kind of weather but sign better football talent than UK every year. UK has a pipeline to Ohio now, that is a good thing. But they must recruit heavy in Florida, Georgia, and Texas, all football hotbeds, and compete for top talent. The more Stoops wins the better UK will be to do just that. Winning draws attention from top athletes. It is pretty cold in Ohio too, but Ohio State does real well talent wise. UK football coaches must sell this program. It can happen. Stoops and staff have closed the gap considerably, but he needs more top talent than he has in order to compete. Georgia manhandled UK this year not because of poor coaching but because they had a lot more talent than UK had. The team with bigger, stronger, faster athletes wins most every time.

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