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Sep. 17th, Mark Stoops, Head Football Coach, University of Kentucky

Posted on Sep 11, 2020

LEXINGTON, KY – The Rotary Club of Lexington held its weekly meeting Thursday, September 17th,  via Zoom. Guest speaker was Mark Stoops, Head Football Coach, University of Kentucky. If you  would like a Zoom invitation email trafton@rotarylexky.org.

When Mark Stoops was asked before last season how he could continue success after major personnel losses from the 2018 team, the coach replied, “We didn’t come here to build a team.  We came here to build a program.”

It appears that Stoops is doing exactly that.

The relentless Wildcat coach has taken his team to four straight bowl games, the second-longest streak in school history. UK’s last time on the field was a Belk Bowl win over Virginia Tech, featuring a fourth-quarter comeback that is one of the most memorable triumphs in school history.

The victory reflected a season that was a monument to the power of perseverance. Stoops had to overcome the departure of 14 starters from his previous team and by September three quarterbacks had been lost to injury. The coach relied on the conventional – physical play on both sides of the ball – and the unconventional, moving wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. to quarterback, to pull off six wins in the final eight games.

That success followed the 2018 squad that went 10-3, UK’s best season in 41 years, topped by a win over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl. Led by all-time leading rusher Benny Snell and National Defensive Player of the Year Josh Allen, it was only the third 10-win season in school history. UK was No. 11 in the final USA Today coaches’ poll and No. 12 in the final Associated Press tabulation, the school’s first appearance in the final rankings since 1984.

CollegeFootballNews.com listed Stoops’ work as the best coaching performance of the season and he was named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year by The Associated Press, Athlon Sports and the league coaches.

UK’s bowl string began in 2016, when the Wildcats won seven of their last 10 games and went to the TaxSlayer Bowl. Highlights of that season included dramatic last-minute wins over Mississippi State and Louisville, thanks to long-range field goals by kicker Austin MacGinnis.  UK followed with another seven-win season in 2017, including a trip to the Music City Bowl.

All totaled, Stoops’ 44 victories are third-most of any coach in school history and UK’s 32 wins over the last four years are the most since Paul “Bear” Bryant led the Wildcats.

Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, Stoops played his collegiate football at the University of Iowa.  His collegiate coaching journey featured stops at Iowa, South Florida, Wyoming, Houston, Miami (Fla.), Arizona and Florida State before coming to Lexington.

 

 

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