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Mark Stoops Reflects On Finding Success At Kentucky

Updated: Aug 5, 2022

After 10 years of accepting his first head coaching gig, Mark Stoops has transformed a bottom of the barrel SEC team into a contending threat to the conference season after season. He's won 59 games at Kentucky and has found himself with a record of 33-14 since 2018. His team has had two ten-win seasons within a four year stretch, a milestone that had only been accomplished two times before he arrived during the program's 97 years of existence. That's right, he did that in just four seasons apart. And thankfully, his success is finally getting the recognition it deserves as the SEC media has projected his team to finish second in the SEC East this fall.

The annual SEC Media Days event was held last weekend in Atlanta, where on the third day Kentucky was one of the featured teams. Mark Stoops, joined by Will Levis, Kenneth Horsey and DeAndre Square, gave speeches and answered questions that were thrown at them one after another. One of the questions, which is what this entire post is centered around, was on the success that Stoops has had in the sports hardest conference and how to find it for the ones who haven't yet that are striving too. The exact question was, "There's so many new coaches in the league, what do you think the key is to being able to sustain success this long in the SEC, if anything?" asked by a local reporter.

Mark Stoops answered with a humbled as can be response, trying to point the attention of the afternoon to his players and program rather than all on him, and he said, "I'm not sure I can answer for other programs. I really looked at what we did. That's continue to stay the course. Adapt and adjust when you can. I think all of us, you're going to be accused of being hardheaded at times. You have to stay to your core beliefs is the only advice I can give anybody. Those two don't need my advice, they're doing very well. Just any coach, it's just be authentic. To me it's just being authentic, staying true to who I am, my core beliefs, what I know is right, but then also adjusting and adapting when you have to. For the longevity, you have to. You have to adapt and overcome any situation."

His style of coaching has adapted to today's game very much. He's practiced what he's preaching. We're seeing it in many different ways and one of the ones off the top of my head is how within the last 15 months - with a lot of credit due to Liam Coen and Wan'Dale Robinson as well as Will Levis - we've seen a branded run-first system quickly turn its operation around towards the passing-first style offense. Now, a lot of players want to come play in this system because of it and they've done a phenomenal job of embracing the change, while at the same time, still keeping the run-game very active. The team averaged 225.6 passing yards per game while still managing to put out a near 218.6 rushing yards a night as well.

Anyways, to fully get back to the topic of Mark Stoops' success, with adapting to the times and progressing season after season, a stat came out the other day on Twitter that just amplifies another example of how much success his program has had over the last few years.

Winning more games in the last five years than Florida, Auburn, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas and Vandy. The first few names on that list were teams that used to pound the Cats just a half-dozen years back. It's crazy how the times have changed for Kentucky football fans over the last decade, and they owe it all to Mark Stoops and his supporting cast.

The state of this football program has become exciting, passion-led, and a winning culture. And I honestly see it continuing to climb upwards as long as the same people are leading the pack. This season you should expect nothing less. A returning starting quarterback, an upperclassmen defense, and a lot of new faces (with a high level of potential) on the offensive side of the ball, we should find a lot of enjoyment this year.

In just six weeks, many of you will be finding yourselves sitting right on the bleachers inside of Kroger Field or maybe even from home inside your living room, watching the program continue to rise and break through the old walls that were standing for so, so long. I cannot wait and I am sure if you're reading this you probably can't either. It's July and we're taking football - this is amazing.

Start the countdown... Six. Weeks.


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