A month ago, no one would’ve thought Mark Stoops would be the only active head coach in the Stoops family. But after his brother Bob’s shocking retirement from Oklahoma, that is the case.
Stoops led Kentucky to a 7-5 regular-season record last season that ended with a win against rival Louisville and 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 in the TaxSlayer Bowl. UK did this despite losing quarterback Drew Barker early in the season with a back injury.
Barker worked on a limited basis during spring practice, and there’s hope he’ll be ready by the fall. Stephen Johnson, who filled in for Barker last season, also returns meaning the Wildcats should be set at quarterback.
The Wildcats were picked to finish fifth in the SEC East at SEC Media Days, behind Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina.
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 season. With Boom Williams off to the Cincinnati Bengals, Snell likely will have a bigger role in the Kentucky offense.
Though Kentucky basketball fans never seem satisfied, Wildcats football fans approve of the job Stoops is doing. In the SEC Country approval rating poll last month, Stoops finished with a rating of 85.5. That’s tops among SEC East coaches and good for third overall.
Recruits have also taken notice. Using the 247Sports composite rankings, the Wildcats now have the No. 15 recruiting class in the country, placing them fourth among SEC teams. That puts the Wildcats ahead of the likes of Auburn, Florida, Alabama and Georgia.
Stoops earned $3.5 million last season. Kentucky opens its season against Southern Miss, a team that beat them last year, on Sept. 2.
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.