Posted: 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, July 17, 2013
By Hank Rippetoe
Larry Vaught published this article in the Danville Advocate-Messenger about the most recent dismissals of the Thomas brothers for "violations of team rules." The Lexington Police released information that they were cited for "possession."
Vaught notes the significant losses to the roster:
Kentucky was 2-10 last season. Now 10 players eligible to return from that team are gone, along with 13 scholarship seniors who made major contributions to last year's team. That's 23 players missing from last year's team.
Vaught also notes that Ashely Lowery has been cited for DUI in relation to the May car crash that put him into the hospital. He could be the next to go. Including the 13 graduated seniors from last season's roster we have almost a full recruiting class that is no longer with the team since Stoops was hired.
So, is Stoops showing that he is willing to sacrifice the 2013 season in order to build a better program by changing the culture? It seems so. He is definitely building for the future in the belief that Kentucky is a "sleeping giant." The Big Blue Nation has responded with enthusiasm as Stoops has made a splash with recruiting for 2013 and 2014. Kentucky fans, for better or worse, are one of the top Twitter fan bases.
So, what is Stoops offering UK fans and recruits?
1. An opportunity for playing time. A weak, by SEC standards, roster with wide open positions.
2. The opportunity to "be a Hero." The chance to be a part of something big appeals to a lot of kids. Turning Kentucky into a contender is a big deal.
3. The opportunity to play in the SEC. As the northern-most SEC school, Kentucky is taking advantage of its SEC membership in B1G country, particularly in Ohio. As the toughest conference in the country, the SEC has an appeal for many players that want to play against the best.
4. A stronger effort at recruiting Florida because of his ties while at Florida State. He is a known commodity in the Sunshine State.
5. Maintaining and building new relationships in Georgia
6. Rivals has a list of 250 four and five star players. Stoops and his staff have shown no fear or reluctance to recruit players on this list.
7. No longer is a single coach responsible for identifying players to recruit. That responsibility has been moved to the football administrative support staff. Dan Berezowitz has that responsibility.
8. A new and innovative performance management program which is the first of its kind in college football. Eric Korem is building an international style high performance program that is similar to those in international professional sports and Olympic teams. Some NFL teams are taking notice. You can read these two articles at the UK Athletics website for more on the subject:
Stoops has built a coaching staff that is both experienced and young. I don't think I need to go into each coach, but they have replaced previous assistant coaches who saw UK as a place to retire without doing much in recruiting or coaching. This is a staff that actually recruits players instead of just the high school coaches. While the previous staff took the high school coaches on golf outings, this staff is meeting with the players and their coaches to establish personal relationships.
It is pretty clear to me that Stoops is telling his team to work hard in the class room and in the training room. A no tolerance policy involving the law is clearly in place and also for those who think drugs are more important in their lives than football. Playing for Mark Stoops requires a level of dedication to the game not seen at Kentucky for a long, long time.
As Larry Vaught points out "the Cats could struggle to win four games this year."