You’d be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of Mark Stoops than John Calipari.
Thursday, Calipari met with the media to preview his team during Kentucky Basketball Media Day. However, Kentucky Football was a topic Calipari wanted to dedicate a lot of time to, and for good reason.
This program has come a long way from where it was when Mark Stoops took over in 2013. Stoops actually arrived in Lexington less than a year after Calipari led Kentucky to the 2012 NCAA Championship.
So obviously, Calipari has seen what Stoops had to work with and how far he’s built this program up over the last six years.
“I told Mark, ‘you guys are in a great place man.’ And I said, ‘keep reminding everyone it’s taken you six years. That wasn’t a two-year turnover. It’s been six years,’” said Calipari on Thursday.
Now, Kentucky Football is 5-1, ranked in the top 25, has ended the Florida streak, and is in a tight race for the SEC East and s trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship, while also having a Heisman contender in Benny Snell and likely first-round pick in Josh Allen.
All of that is what Calipari wanted to talk about Thursday.
“It’s great. I’m happy for their staff and Mark, but I’m really happy for the guys who came back. Josh is one of the best linebackers in all of college football. The guy is ridiculous. What Mark has done, and what Benny and Josh and the guys have done to change the culture. Players ride the culture. It’s not like you say, ‘this is what it is,’ and they do what they want. They’ve gotta ride it, which means we’re going to compete and fight like heck, but we’re sticking together.”
Calipari was especially impressed with how Snell handled the Texas A&M loss, a game in which he didn’t get nearly enough touches as Kentucky narrowly fell in overtime.
“Benny, I can’t imagine what Benny did in the locker room, but I know this. In front of the media, he said everything the right way, because he was thinking about his team. That is big when you’re a Heisman candidate and you don’t get the touches and the team loses, because that kid wants a win.”
It’s great to see Calipari giving so much love to Stoops’ program on a day when basketball had taken center stage. This team deserves more national and even local attention, and Calipari made sure they got it today.