Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has admitted he “is tired of being close” to success in Lexington.
Stoops, entering his fourth season with the Wildcats, has coached his three previous teams to a 12-24 overall record, with each of his past two teams coming within one game of bowl eligibility (5-7).
For many among the Kentucky faithful, Stoops’ next step for the team has to involve a bowl game — something the Wildcats haven’t been to since 2010. Stoops, appearing on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” Tuesday night, seemed to share that sentiment.
“That’s not something we talked about the past couple of years, because I didn’t know if we were quite ready for that,” Stoops said. “I do feel like we do have the pieces for that this year. I do. I’ve got a lot of confidence in what our team has done. We’ve put the work in and I feel great with the coaching staff. And it’s time.”
Stoops, of course, has the added pressure of his pedigree to add to his hunt for bowl eligibility. Older brother Mike Stoops saw decent success while head coach at Arizona before joining oldest brother Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, a perennial powerhouse contender.
Being able to add a bowl victory of his own, Stoops said, would be a huge milestone in his career.
“It most definitely would mean a great deal. There’s no getting around that,” Stoops said, “because I think of that great personal satisfaction you have with that time.
“But more importantly, the people of Kentucky have been starved for that. Our administration is so invested in that so much. We have a great coaching staff, a renovated stadium we’re days away from moving into, a brand-new, state-of-the-art football facility. There’s a lot of people, when I took that job, I said, ‘There’s a lot of people who need to buy into for us to be successful.'”
Maybe the 2016 season is when everyone’s investments into the Kentucky program finally pay off.