Stoops’ renovation takes first step back

Ira D. Combs — Tri State Sports

September 2, 2013

Before everybody goes all ballistic on Mark Stoops and Mitch Barnhart, the guy who brought Stoops to BBN, let’s take a chill pill, wait a week and see how the Vols’ new saviour Butch Jones fairs against ole Bobby Petrino. It should be interesting. The old saying says misery loves company, and we may have some brothers from the SEC right beside us as we drift through the 2013 season.

With that being said, we’re now officially off on another magic carpet ride with a new UK football coach. Besides all of the surprise antics that took place down in Nashville, we can now thank the UK defense for providing us with a new Heisman candidate this week in WKU quarterback Brandon Doughty, who went 27-34 while tallying 275 yards with one TD against the inept Kentucky defense.

One month ago at the annual UK football media days, several of the Cats’ young pups just coming on the scene spoke in glowing terms of the turn around of UK football coming quicker than most expect. To be perfectly honest I bought into the theory myself and agreed with several of the freshmen. Never let it be said that I will not admit my mistakes. On hindsight It may take a little longer than we all thought, because it’s obvious the cupboard is a little thinner than originally thought, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

What hurts the most today, especially to high ranking UKAA, officials is that it was obvious the offensive guru Bobby Petrino got the best of defensive guru Mark Stoops.

Now don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly agree with the column that John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader wrote last week concerning UK making the correct hire of Stoops instead of Petrino last December, and that’s regardless of the outcome of the UK-WKU game last Saturday night. Given the proper amount of time and financial resources it takes to win in the SEC, I still think Stoops will take the program to a consistently competitive level of play. Besides, would Petrino have taken the UK job if it were offered? It wasn’t an attractive job at the time.

But most of all I hope all those 22 verbal commitments couldn’t find the correct satellite signal to witness Stoops’ first game action as a head coach.

Stoops got his first dose Saturday of how making game decisions as a head coach is completely different than making them as a defensive coordinator, yet he may have his toughest decision of 2013 still in front of him, and he has to make it quick, like sometime in the next two weeks or NCAA eligibility rules will take over.

That decision is should he red shirt several young players like Jason Hatcher, Reggie Meant, Jaleel Hytche, and Blake McClain, or play them all season.

The bottom line is what’s best for the total program in this renovation project. Either eight months developing in Nutter Center and the pay off later, or bite the bullet and play them on the game field and hopefully speed up the on field performance. Remember Stoops’ own words many times in recent months: “It’s a process folks, there is no quick fix.”

Is Texas A&M bringing that old Southwest Conference mentality to SEC?

This will be my one and only mention of the Mansiel/A&M scandal in this column.

What was the first thing that come to your mind when the Johnny Mansiel scandal broke a few days ago?

My thoughts immediately were here we go again with that old Southwest Conference mentality of to heck with the NCAA rules. Let’s make as much money as we can as quick as we can, legal or illegal.

Anybody that has closely followed college football and the NCAA, like I have since the 1960s, will tell you that at least half of every NCAA manual adopted by its membership since that decade is a direct correlation to rules broken by Texas schools, which was of course the old Southwest Conference and its one token member from Arkansas who eventually left town for the money the SEC offered. Oh yes, let’s not forget the SEC and our own past demons with these same policies.

Now we have mixed the old cowboy demons of Texas with the southern Bible belt mentality of win at any cost, and in just one year we have produced another major NCAA scandal. It is one that may lead to turning everybody loose on both sides to make as much money as corruption can make.

In a couple years those ridiculous ticket prices may be a bargain compared to getting a simple autographed jersey.