By KEITH PEEL, Contributing Writer
Larry Vaught recently mentioned in an article here on Vaughtsviews.com that current Kentucky coach Mark Stoops was listed by 247Sports as the 15th best coach in college football. He also mentioned that Stoops was rated as the 27th best coach per Bill Bender at The Sporting News.
That’s not something I thought I would ever see in my lifetime, a Kentucky Football Coach that garners the respect of the football world outside of the Commonwealth. It is pretty amazing.
But what is more amazing is how Stoops has done it. He’s done it the old fashioned way. At the line of scrimmage. As in dominating both the offensive and defensive lines of scrimmage.
After watching UK football for fifty plus years I always thought that for Kentucky to win in the SEC they would need to have a gimmick. You know, something like the wishbone running attack or the air raid passing attack or something like former Vanderbilt Head Coach Woody Widenhofer’s “blitz from every possible position” defense. What I found out was that I didn’t know football very well.
There is a rule in football that is the same in life. It is very simple in premise but hard to execute. Here it is, “There is no substitute for hard work and time.”
It still proves true in football. Mark Stoops has shown that a very good coach, who can recruit and develop talent, if given enough time and is willing to put in the hard work, can develop a winning program based on football fundamentals.
I never thought I would see the day where a Kentucky team could line up at the line of scrimmage, and through size, talent and technique open up holes in the opponent’s defense that would allow UK to be the No. 1 rushing team In the nation last year.
Not to mention using the same principles to become the No. 14 defense, in the same season.
All of that was accomplished through hard work and time. No smoke and mirrors. No trickery on offense or defense. Just “line ‘em up and knock ‘em back.” Good fundamental football on both sides of the ball.
So it’s very fitting that Mark Stoops is now getting some recognition as a head coach. Just like Assistant Head Coach Vince Marrow and Offensive Coordinator Eddie Gran and Offensive Line Coach John Schlarman along with Defensive Coordinator Brad White and the other defensive coaches should be getting recognition. After all, the average coaching life span in the SEC is pretty short. Just ask guys like Butch Jones, Derek Dooley, Joe Moorhead and many others who have been relieved of their coaching duties at SEC schools in the past. It’s a “what have you done for me lately” conference.
Since Mark Stoops is tied for the second longest tenure of any head coach in the SEC, only behind Nick Saban of Alabama, it’s only fitting that he should finally be getting some recognition.
And now that he is eight years into the process it will be good to see the UK Football Program continue to climb up the ladder in the SEC standings. Hard work and time, along with football talent, will allow him to do just that. Just like green grass in the spring and the leaves changing colors in the fall, it just takes time.