By LARRY VAUGHT
Would Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart be disappointed if Mark Stoops did not win any Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year awards?
Kentucky suffered heavy graduation losses off last year’s 10-3 team and then lost quarterback Terry Wilson to a season-ending knee injury in game two. After a 2-3 start, Stoops turned to receiver Lynn Bowden to play quarterback and he led UK to a 5-2 finish and Belk Bowl berth.
“The one thing great about Mark is he’s really never concerned himself with that stuff. He’s been so — the awards are nice. I mean, I think they’re wonderful, and I think he would be the first one to say, ‘Hey, thanks,'” Barnhart said.
“But at the end of the day I think he gets his greatest satisfaction developing our guys. And I say that because we use that word really, really loosely sometimes, but you look at what has been developed in our program in terms of players and you’re going to have a …”
Max Duffy has been nominated for national player of the year. Bowden is a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award given to the nation’s most versatile player.
“That would be back-to-back years we have done some really remarkable things in terms of that,” Barnhart said referring to Josh Allen being the consensus national defensive player of the year in 2019. “And there’s another set of young guys that are positioned to continue to grow the program.
“So Mark and the coaching staff have done a nice job of developing — are we perfect? No, we’re not perfect in what we do. But I think we have shown that there’s a purpose to what we do and how we do it and Mark has done a really remarkable job of developing young guys.”