By: Michele Brown
Dear Coach Stoops,
Two years ago, I wrote you an open letter expressing my support and appreciation for you and what you’ve done for the University of Kentucky Football program. The Cats had just lost the Tax Slayer Bowl, but it was clear to me that night our football program was in great hands. There were still plenty who doubted that you were the man for the job. They kept saying “it’s the same old Kentucky Football.” But not me. I consistently asked fans to be patient, to give you time to build your team with your players that were ready to play your style. People laughed at me. Crazy, delusional, and sunshine pumper were just a few of the names I was called.
But here we are two years later and your team with your players that played your style have just completed one of the best seasons ever in Kentucky Football history. Your team just defeated Penn State University in the Citrus Bowl to get their 10th victory for only the 3rd time ever at UK. So who’s laughing now? If you’re not, then you certainly should be. You’ve earned it.
Tuesday night, plenty of “experts” expressed surprise at the success of the Wildcats this season. They said they never saw this coming. Maybe they just weren’t paying attention.
After last season when Josh Allen, Mike Edwards, and CJ Conrad announced they would be returning for their senior seasons, that should have given the world a big hint that good things were in store for the Cats in 2018. Had those experts watched the Spring Game, they might have noticed there was plenty of talent on this Kentucky team and more quality depth across the board than we’d ever had.
If only those folks had been at Media Day when you could absolutely feel the difference in the team. The players were relaxed and carried themselves with an air of confidence. It wasn’t cockiness nor bravado. It was a bunch of young men who knew the countless hours of hard work they had put in during the off-season and they knew how much they had improved. The coaching staff carried that same air of confidence and looked relaxed and ready for the season to begin.
Maybe they could have gotten a clue about what was to come when you led the Cats to their first win versus Florida in 31 years. AT Florida. When that was followed by the complete domination of Mississippi State, it should have gotten the attention of the experts, as should the 5th-straight win over South Carolina.
The astute observer would have known things were turning upward in Wildcat land after the amazing last-second victory at Missouri. That the Cats won the game in the same fashion so many games over the years had been lost should have been verification that this certainly was not the “same ol’ Kentucky Football.”
Even with stumbles against Georgia and Tennessee, the Cats finished strong and absolutely demolished Louisville in the final game of the season and headed into the post-season with an impressive 9-3 record. I could list all of the accolades given to the team, staff, and players, but you’re probably familiar with them already. First winning SEC record in decades. First 9-win season since 1984. SEC Coach of the Year. Three players with All-American honors. Defensive Player of the Year.
After all of that, there were still doubters and again the “experts” chose Penn State to win the VRBO Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day. Perhaps it’s time to find some new experts as the ones we have now decided a name-brand on the jersey would be more valuable than heart, determination, and hard work. They obviously didn’t understand that Benny Snell Jr. had a goal to be UK’s all-time leading rusher and would move mountains and defensive lines to achieve that goal. They refused to believe that Josh Allen could will his team to win. They never took time to appreciate the bond of brotherhood this team had built. Players that played for one another and for their coaches. Players that wanted so desperately to get a bowl win for you, Coach. They just didn’t get any of it.
First 10-win season since 1977 ✔️
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) January 1, 2019
Now here we are, Coach. For the first time since you arrived in Lexington, the majority of the fans are now worried about keeping you at Kentucky instead of trying to find your replacement. There are more than a few people who are wondering when you will leave Lexington to take a “better” job. And maybe that will happen one day. But please let me make my plea for you to stay.
Kentucky has top-notch facilities. You have the full support of Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart. You have an incredible fan base that, as you saw in Orlando, will travel in the thousands to support the Cats. You have absolutely changed the culture of Kentucky Football, a feat nobody ever thought possible. You have done all of this and with the historic season and huge bowl win, you have paved the way to leave a huge legacy at the University of Kentucky. I implore you, Coach, to stay and continue building Kentucky Football into a top-tier SEC program. After all, we’re just getting started, Bro!
Follow me on Twitter @ForeverBigBlue