The Kentucky Wildcats suffered a loss to the Georgia Bulldogs that has their head coach asking fans for more donations.
Speaking on his radio show this week, HC Mark Stoops suggested that the Cats faithful should contribute to helping the school buy players.
Of course, the Bulldogs have the most successful football program in the nation, having won a national championship in each of the last two seasons. And Stoops acknowledged that they’ve put a good roster together, though it appears there were undertones of criticism when he suggested that the team is buying success.
“Fans have that right (to complain). I give it to them. I just encourage them to donate more because that’s what those dudes are doing,” Stoops said. “I can promise you, Georgia, they bought some pretty good players. You’re allowed to these days. We could use some help.”
The plea has polarized fans, with some in agreement while others are startled by his audacity.
Still, there is merit to the take. The Wildcats are already at a disadvantage geographically, while other programs have a much better time recruiting because they can afford to pay players more, now that NIL has become a thing.
While attracting players to UK’s basketball program has been easy, given that the Wildcats have the most successful team in the NCAA, it’s difficult for coach Stoops to convince a player that Kentucky is where he wants to be. He remains on the hunt despite the odds, however, and has still managed to do well enough with what he has at his disposal.
He can sell the university’s talent development system, which is one of the best, while he has proven that he can get more out of average players than other coaches would.
On the flip side, it’s also not hard to understand why some fans might be displeased with his comments. But Stoops would likely do a remarkable job if he had the financial wherewithal to bring in the best talent year after year.
He hasn’t managed to get one over the Bulldogs yet, but he has achieved a lot since taking over the program in 2013 and was named SEC Coach of the Year in 2018. As long as he stays put, he’s going to be in a position where he’s beating the bigger teams on a consistent basis.
His next opportunity to do so will come on November 11th, when his Cats will face off with Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide. The Kentucky Sports betting options for Wildcats fans will offer several avenues through which supporters can make a win even sweeter.
Stoops, though, won’t be thinking so far ahead as the Wildcats are playing Missouri this coming Saturday. Kentucky’s currently -134 to win, with the Tigers a +112. Stoops’ side is -2.5 (-1120 against the spread while the opposition is +2.5 (-108).
“Really looking forward to getting back home [for a] night game here in Kroger [Field] with a packed house,” Stoops told reporters on Monday. “We need that, certainly. We went on the road this past week, it affected us. We did not play very good. Number one topic that we talk about is handling the environment and, obviously, we did not handle that situation, that environment, that game, very well at any level.
“I addressed that postgame and I will reiterate that today. Same as I felt during the game, just outcoached, outplayed in every area. We need to get back to work and be a better football team. You’re going to face adversity in this league. The teams we play, you’re going to hit some tough patches. It’s how you respond, how you react to it and how you move forward.”
Despite the poor performance in the 51-13 loss to the Bulldogs last Saturday, the Wildcats remain in the Coaches and AP Top 25, so there’s still hope they could end the season on a great note and make it to a Bowl game.
ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura reckons they’ll end up in Duke’s Mayo Bowl against the Miami Hurricanes in Charlotte while his colleague, Mark Schlabach, says they’ll be facing the Kansas State Wildcats in Memphis’ AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
Jerry Palm of CBS agrees that they will be in the Mayo Bowl, except that they will play the Blue Devils. 247 Sports also has them in the Liberty Bowl.
Athlon Sports has them taking on Duke in the Mayo Bowl as well.