After a tough first few seasons, things finally are looking up for Mark Stoops and the Kentucky Wildcats.
The 2016 season saw Kentucky finish with a 7-5 regular-season record that included a win over rival Louisville, which had Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson. It was the first time in the Stoops era that Kentucky went to a bowl game, but the Wildcats lost to Georgia Tech. And the Wildcats did all this despite losing quarterback Drew Barker early in the season with a back injury.
Barker is working his way back as spring practice nears, but the hope is that he’ll be ready to go by the fall. Stephen Johnson, who filled in for Barker last season, also returns for the Wildcats.
Besides bringing in another strong recruiting haul — the Wildcats had the No. 29 class in the country for 2017 — Stoops also returns running back Benny Snell, who ran for more than 1,000 yards as a freshman last year. With Boom Williams headed to the NFL, Snell likely will have an even bigger role in the Kentucky offense.
And though Kentucky basketball fans never seem satisfied, Wildcats football fans approve of the job Stoops is doing for the most part. In the first edition of the SEC Country approval rating poll, Stoops had the third-highest finish at 85 percent. Only Florida’s Jim McElwain and Alabama’s Nick Saban had higher ratings.
Stoops earned $3.5 million last season.
Vote on Mark Stoops’ approval rating
The SEC Country approval rating poll is designed to give an indication of fan happiness over a period of time.
Our formula is based on the percentage of respondents that select each answer. We multiply that percentage by the following factors: 1 (strongly approve), 0.67 (approve), 0.33 (disapprove) and 0.0 (strongly disapprove). In other words, if 50 percent of respondents select “strongly approve” and 50 percent select “approve,” the formula would be (50 x 1) + (50 x 0.67) = 83.5% approval rating.