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Kentucky Wildcats: Mark Stoops, the Road to a Bowl, and Other Musings

Is Mark Stoops in over his head, the road to a bowl game is perilous, and the SEC report card.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

After a few days of decompressing from the opening night loss to Southern Miss, I have some football issues that I would like to share.

Is Mark Stoops in Over his Head?

We are now in year four of the Mark Stoops Era and I think this is a question that needs to be examined closely. This is Stoops' first head coaching job in Division I football. While he has brought to Kentucky unprecedented success in recruiting and the best facilities money can buy, his results on the field have been poor.

Yet again the Kentucky Wildcats suffered from a woeful second half after looking brilliant in the first. Normally, coaching staffs usually try to figure out how to continue to be better as the game continues or they are looking ahead to adjustments they may need to make as the opposition adjusts their game plan in order to get back into the game.

Stoops and company can't do that. I cannot remember a single game when I thought that coaching won it for them. I cannot recall a single game when I thought that the adjustment made at halftime were perfect.

The time for excuses is over. Stoops has his players, Joker Phillps' players are gone. He has the best facilities. He has a big contract. He has (had) the fan support. These collapses are on him and his stuff.

So this leads to my question, is he in over his head? My answer would be yes. I don't think he has what it takes to run a team from the top. I don't think he has what it takes to go to a coordinator and tell him specifically how to fix what's wrong. I don't think he has the capability to lead Kentucky to where we all want to go with the football program.

In retrospect, the job as the head football coach at Kentucky needed someone with at least a few years of head coaching experience. This isn't a job for a coordinator that's cutting his teeth. The program has too many disadvantages.

There are still 11 games to be played, but if the loss to Southern Miss is an example of things to come, then Mitch Barnhart will have to figure out if he wants to take the money hit now or the next few seasons as the seats continue to empty.

The Road to a Bowl is Perilous

Now that the 'Cats sit at 0-1, the likelihood of going to a bowl has lessened. Southern Miss was supposed to be an opening victory. The Wildcats were favored at home against a CUSA team. They blew it and dug themselves a deep hole.

Now Kentucky almost has to win at the Swamp against the Florida Gators to get to 1-1, where we all figured they would be after week two. If they can't do that, then they have to pull an upset against Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, or Louisville. Oh, and they have to beat Missouri, South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt along with New Mexico State, and Austin Peay.

Does anyone figure those scenarios to be likely? Neither do I. The thing is, I think Kentucky has good football players. At some positions I think Kentucky has REALLY good football players. I don't trust the staff to get them where they need to go.

The SEC is Down...For Now

Let's give a big round of applause to Alabama, Georgia, and Texas A&M for looking good this weekend, because the rest of the SEC looked like garbage.

Tennessee had to go into overtime to beat Appalachian State. Mississippi State lost at home to Alabama State. Vandy and South Carolina put on one of the most pathetic displays of offense ever witnessed. Arkansas struggled to beat Louisiana Tech. Missouri was trounced by West Virginia. Clemson beat Auburn in their house. LSU looked hapless at the quarterback position and lost to Wisconsin. Ole Miss blew a big first half lead to lose to Florida State by 11 points (sound familiar?). And Florida looked terrible for three quarters against UMass before scoring 14 in the fourth to win 24-7 in the Swamp.

Plunging into week two, the SEC looks to be down as a conference for the first time in my memory. The East has been pretty lackluster for a few years, but the West has long been considered the best division in college football. I'm not sure that can be said any longer.

Alabama looked as dominant as any team in the country, but they can't carry water for the entire conference. There aren't many chances for these teams to make statements since week two is full of cupcakes. Tennessee can bounce back against Virginia Tech and Arkansas can prove they are better when they play TCU.