Mark Stoops is a popular man.
Few men could have got 300+ high schools kids to take a trip to Lexington, Kentucky in early June for a camp. But Mark Stoops did. About 340 kids showed up, so many that they had to only let kids run one 40 yard dash as opposed to two, to try and get them all in. The camp was apparently at this point a huge success, and more big name recruits are expected on campus this week as a result.
Few men could have gotten a commitment from a kid who was a highly rated 4* prospect, then see that commit de-commit, commit to a school the caliber of Florida, and then re-flip that kid back to your school. Especially when your school is Kentucky, one devoid of much history to speak of, coming off a 2-10 year. Not only that, but Denzel Ware is also the fourth 4* commitment out of 12 current commits. That’s impressive.
There is still a lot to prove for Coach Stoops. How does he handle success on the field? How about failure? Will he be more than just a great recruiter? The signs so far say yes, as he has absolutely owned every aspect of being a head coach. From recruiting, to fund-raising, to hiring the right assistants, he’s knocked it all out of the park. Still, those are not the things that coaches are judged by in the end.
Still, his legend is growing. Football talk dominates websites and radio programs that typically reserved this time of year for basketball line-up chatter and AAU tournaments. Now there’s only talk of Western Kentucky, football recruiting, and realistic expectations for year one under Stoops.
I’ll offer my own bit of advice for the upcoming season. Don’t bet against Stoops. People said not to reasonably expect UK to land top 25 classes under Stoops, at least not in years one or two. People said that he couldn’t beat out Alabama, Notre Dame, USC, etc., for recruits, much less the same recruit. They said you couldn’t get Kentucky fans pumped up about football enough to have 50,000 show up for a football practice in mid-April.
Now they say UK can’t win more than 4 games this year. But if they do? The legend of Mark Stoops may grow beyond Bigfoot lore, into something straight from a story line so cheesy and unbelievable that neither ABC Family or Disney would dare spend money to make a movie about it.
The schedule is daunting. The odds are stacked against him. But after facing the odds he faced when he first signed up to coach at UK last December, it’s becoming hard to bet against him.
Go Big Blue!