By LARRY VAUGHT
Very few times in my 45 years covering Kentucky athletics has there been a football press opportunity during a UK basketball game.
Yet that’s what happened Saturday with recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow one day after he announced he had turned down a lucrative offer from Michigan State to accept a reported long-term offer that includes a substantial raise at Kentucky.
Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops returned to Lexington a day earlier than he planned to talk with Marrow — who has been with Stoops since day one at UK.
Marrow admitted Saturday the two had a lot of conversations in recent days.
“That’s probably something, they ought to do a ‘30 for 30’ on this, when coaches are about to leave and you go through the conversations because they ain’t always pretty. They’re tough,” Marrow said. “But, I will say this. I am very close with him.
“I actually think you take friendship for granted both ways, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is a real good friend. He shared with me why he did not want to move me and it would have been hard to leave him, too. I mean, we are pretty close. It’s not like that a lot in this business, but where we’re from is a very small town (Youngstown, Ohio).”
Marrow joked that Stoops’ uncle sent him a message that was hard to ignore.
“It was kind of like a mafia guy sending you a text like saying, ‘Hey, you better keep your butt there.’ But, it was all jokes. But, I really appreciate it, his brother sent me a real touching text, too,” Marrow said. “So, I love Mark, but we’re still in a business.”
Marrow turned down an offer from Youngstown State to be its head coach a few weeks ago but Michigan State and new coach Mel Tucker, another Marrow friend, offered him a substantial raise and some reports indicate that even UK’s counter offer was not for as much money even though it was a significant pay raise.
“Did our friendship play a big part of this? Yes, it did, because anywhere else, for what Michigan State offered, I think a lot of other coaches would’ve took it,” Marrow said about his decision to stay at UK with Stoops.
“But, with my relationship with him, and like I said, this is not a sales pitch, my relationship with the community and the administration really played a big part in this. I said, I don’t really know what they have up there, but I know what we have here, and I know I didn’t want to leave it.”