Ed Reed is arguably one of the greatest free safeties to ever play in the NFL. His career is about to officially be capped off when he goes into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (first ballot) in Canton Ohio tonight in Canton, OH.
There’s a good chance that Mark Stoops could be among the crowd of Reed’s family and friends. He said as much yesterday on KSR during Media Day activities at Kroger Field. He was juggling how to get to Canton, his commitment to Kentucky football as summer camp gets set to begin as well as a bit of a “health issue” that he’s been dealing with.
Reed and Stoops crossed paths for a time in 2001 during Reed’s college days at the University of Miami. Reed was entering his senior season, Stoops was entering his first season as the Canes defensive backs coach as a “young coach” on Larry Coker’s staff. They went undefeated and won the National Championship that season.
That season couldn’t have been more magical and memorable for them. But it still says a lot of both Reed and Stoops that the relationship was solidly cultivated back then has remained that way nearly two decades later. Reed has even come to Lexington to visit with Stoops and the Cats. That’s not always the case, even when players and coaches are part of a team that has lots of success.
Coach Stoops’ experiences have no doubt shaped him and helped him get to where he is today. Most of the BBN have seen and still remember more than their fair share of lean times when it comes to Kentucky football. They have watched as the facilities, caliber of recruits and number of wins all improved. While we’re still wrapping our heads around some of this, it’s all part of the plan for Stoops and his staff.
Early on in his tenure Coach Stoops talked openly about how the Cats matched up well with Florida and how he was familiar with them from his days at Florida State. He wasn’t blowing smoke. Kentucky has gone toe to toe with Florida in four out of the last five contests. They could and probably should have more than one win in those four nail biters. Contrary to all of the predictions, they are poised to go toe to toe with everyone on the schedule yet again.
If they do “step back” and win, say, seven games or so they will still make history by being the first Kentucky team to follow up a 10-win season with another winning season.
Hopefully Coach Stoops continues to recover from his health issue and hopefully he finds a way to work things out to be in the crowd in Canton supporting his guy Ed Reed.