Obviously the game today did not work out the way us Kentucky fans wanted it to. A slow start on offense and Georgia looking very explosive in the early stages of the game had me scared and thinking blowout. Kentucky fought the whole game but penalties, ejections, and mistakes on both sides of the ball really plagued the cats. Don’t get me wrong, Georgia is an elite football team and exposes even the smallest errors, but Kentucky didn’t put their best foot forward today. Because of that, Kentucky got beat by the better team tonight. 34-17.
I know all of us are disappointed and wanted the outcome to be different, but Kentucky was in the SEC East championship game, and that gets me to the point of this post.
When Joker Phillips was fired after a 40-0 loss to Vanderbilt at home where fifty people showed up, we had hit rock bottom. Mark Stoops was hired and inherited basically nothing. He has said before that he was “walking into a gun fight with a butter knife”.
Stoops said that he wanted to be playing in games like the SEC Championship and big bowl games. I certainly thought that wasn’t ever going to happen and I know most of you thought the same thing.
After a very rough first season in which Kentucky finished 2-10, Kentucky started the 2014 season 5-1. A road trip to LSU was the beginning of the mid-season slide where the Cats would collapse and finish 5-7. The same thing happened the next year, Kentucky started the season 4-1 and proceeded to win one of their last six games to finished 5-7.
Starting the 2016 season, Kentucky fans expected a lot. Southern Miss was the opener and it was a game Kentucky couldn’t lose. Drew Barker and the Cats looked unstoppable in the second half and then collapsed and lost 44-35. That game was proceeded by a blowout in Gainesville 45-7. We called for Stoops’ firing and the program was in shambles. Austin MacGinnis saved Stoops’ job and Kentucky finished the season 7-5, losing in the TaxSlayer bowl.
After a heartbreaking loss to Florida last year, which ruined the fanbase for the rest of the season, we thought we were in for another disappointing season. Kentucky came back and finished the season 7-5, losing in the Music City bowl.
This year has been very different though. Kentucky started the season 5-0. They traveled to Texas A&M with a chance to be 6-0 and lost in overtime. After a miracle comeback against Missouri, the Cats set up a date with the Georgia Bulldogs for the SEC East. The biggest game in the history of the program was hyped up all week. Kentucky didn’t win, but the fact we had a chance to make the SEC Championship is crazy. Kentucky should finish the season 10-2. No one ever thought this was possible. Mark Stoops came to Kentucky with the goal of making this program a legit contender in the SEC, a bowl team, and even a championship team.
I personally don’t think Kentucky will ever be a championship team, but Mark Stoops came in with goals and promises that no one thought could be reached. Today Kentucky was a win away from a trip to Atlanta. Mark Stoops has exceeded expectations and is the second-best coach in Kentucky football history.