We all remember Joker Phillips' last game on the sideline as the head coach of the Cats. A blowout by Vanderbilt with ten people in Commonwealth stadium.
That was rock-bottom for present day Kentucky football.
That was eight years ago, which is really hard to believe. Joker was fired right after that game.
After a coaching search that had people begging for Mitch Barnhart to hire Bobby Petrino, they landed Mark Stoops. A defensive-coordinator from Florida State with zero head coaching experience.
What has happened between his introductory press-conference on December 12, 2012 and now is nothing short of remarkable.
I appreciate what Mark Stoops has done for this program a whole lot. But, the "old days" of Kentucky football for me are when Andre Woodson was running the show, handing the ball off to Rafael Little and tossing it around to Dicky Lyons Jr., Stevie Johnson, and Keenan Burton.
I don't appreciate it nearly as much as the people who consider the "old days" of Kentucky football when Fran Curci was roaming the sidelines. For people like this, these are days they thought they would never see.
When Stoops says "I'm happy for the fans" after a game, he doesn't mean people 35-40 and younger. He means the people that have been watching the Cats since the Stoll Field days. The one's that have experienced decades of blowouts, heartbreaking losses, and multiple losing seasons.
I don't think any of us saw Stoops being able to do this at Kentucky. When I say "this" I mean recruit and beat out the top schools in the Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, etc. for some of the best players in the country and in the state of Kentucky. I mean having a 10-win season. I mean having three QB's get injured in the same year, having a WR play QB for the second half of the year, and winning eight games. I mean ending the Florida streak at the swamp and Tennessee streak in Knoxville in dominating fashion. I mean making Kentucky football a legitimate SEC contender every year. I mean Kentucky football being recognized nationally. I could go on, but by now, I think you get it.
Here are a few more:
What Mark Stoops has accomplished in eight years is remarkable. John Calipari has treated us very well in his time in Lexington. But Mark Stoops has as well, and in my opinion, what he has done is far more impressive.
Now let's go beat Missouri.