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.”