UK Football

Kentucky's Stoops ready to stop talking, start coaching

Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops talked about the Cats' rivalry with Louisville at the Governor's Cup kick off luncheon Wednesday in Louisville.
Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops talked about the Cats' rivalry with Louisville at the Governor's Cup kick off luncheon Wednesday in Louisville. Herald-Leader

LOUISVILLE — If only scientists had figured out how to clone humans, Mark Stoops might have a fighting chance.

The Kentucky coach is learning quickly how many obligations are part of being a head coach, especially one in his first season.

Wednesday's appearance at the Governor's Cup luncheon to preview the football season for Louisville and UK is one of nearly a dozen tongue-wagging and hand-shaking events for Stoops before fall camp opens in early August.

In the past week alone, he's made trips to Alabama for Southeastern Conference Media Days and Connecticut for ESPN's "Car Wash" with league coaches.

On Friday, he's back in Louisville for a kickoff luncheon, then there's a women's clinic on Saturday followed by a charity event later that night.

It's enough to make a head coach's head spin.

"You do feel like at some point you're really ready to get in there and get coaching your guys," Stoops said. "We have so much to do, I'll be anxious to get coaching that team."

His head coaching counterpart at Wednesday's luncheon remembers that first year well. Charlie Strong, starting his fourth season at Louisville, said it's tough to understand the stress and strain until you've gone through the experience of being "the new face in town.

"Everyone is trying to pull you in one direction," Strong said. "You've got alumni, you've got someone wanting you to come speak here, whether it's the Kiwanis Club, whomever it may be. Someone is always trying to pull you. In the beginning, you're sitting there and you try to accommodate everyone ... But then you start realizing I can't accommodate everybody."

Stoops is starting to figure out that part.

"You want to get out so much, you appreciate all the people that support you in all corners of the state and in all communities, you want to get out and you want to get back to them and just give them some exposure to yourself and your program," Stoops said. "But there is a balance."

Admittedly uneasy with being the face of the program early on, Stoops said with each event, it's gotten easier.

But when he looks out into crowds of media or Rotary Club members, he can't help but wish he was looking at the faces of his own players.

"You know me, you know I'd rather be in that meeting room grinding on some film," Stoops told the media after his speech on Wednesday at the Hurstbourne Country Club, whose audience members included Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear.

The coach said he's anxious to start working with his players at the start of fall camp on Aug. 4. He wants to start focusing on turning around the program that went 2-10 last season and winless in the SEC.

"I'm getting anxious to get in that room and be in there for long periods of time and to help this team win some games," Stoops said. "There is a time when you have to say no, and I hope people understand that. Because it's time to put your kids, put your program, put your players in the best position to be successful."

Both coaches struggled to discuss the UK-Louisville game itself, since it's still seven long weeks away, but they both seemed ready to get off the speaking tour and get on with the football festivities.

But there are still many engagements to go. When asked about being back in Louisville in less than 48 hours for the Jefferson County Kickoff Luncheon, Stoops discouraged the huddled media from attending.

"You guys don't need to show up," he said with a laugh. "It'll be the same message. That's something that I've learned, because you talk to so many different people: Your message is your message, it is what it is, and you've really got to stay true to that."


(Home games in capital letters)

Date Opponent Time

Aug. 31x-Western Kentucky7

Sept. 7 MIAMI (OHIO) Noon

Sept. 14 LOUISVILLE Noon


Oct. 5 At South Carolina TBA


Oct. 24 At Miss. State 7:30



Nov. 16 At Vanderbilt TBA

Nov. 23 At Georgia TBA


x-At Nashville, Tenn.


(Home games in capital letters)

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 1OHIO3:30

Sept. 7 EASTERN KY. Noon

Sept. 14 At Kentucky Noon

Sept. 21 FLA. INTER. Noon

Oct. 5 At Temple TBA


Oct. 18CENTRAL FLA.7:30

Oct. 26 At South Florida TBA

Nov. 8 At Connecticut TBA



Dec. 5 At Cincinnati 7:30

x-At Nashville, Tenn.

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