It’s been a magical season so far for Kentucky Football. The Cats are 5-1 at the halfway point with a 3-1 record in SEC play.
They have beaten two opponents ranked in the top 15, spent three weeks in the AP Poll ranked in the 13-18 range, and ended their 31-year losing streak to Florida. They also just have one loss on the road in overtime to a ranked Texas A&M team.
The hot start has Kentucky in position to win the SEC East if they can defeat Georgia on November 3rd in Lexington. Head coach Mark Stoops deserves a ton of credit, far more than he’s gotten so far this season.
It’s been a long time coming for Stoops. He failed to guide the Wildcats to a bowl game in his first three seasons, and many were calling for him to be fired. Then in 2016, he finally got the program to a bowl game after beating Mississippi State and Louisville for his first time at Kentucky.
In 2017, Stoops again led the Cats to a bowl appearance. He took another step by beating Tennessee for his first time and helped guide his team to a double-digit win in front of a sold-out South Carolina crowd.
This year, Stoops has continued to knock down doors. He guided the Cats to their first win over Florida in 31 years, took down 14th-ranked Mississippi State, and beat South Carolina for the fifth-straight season.
The hot start helped the Cats get as high as 13th in the AP Poll, the first time they have been ranked in 11 years.
Kentucky has a legitimate chance to win 10 games, and if they do, Stoops should be the AP Coach of the year.
Despite not having a school with a winning football tradition, he has recruited enough talent to build an SEC East contender. He was able to find under the radar prospects like Josh Allen (Two-Star) and Benny Snell (Three-Star) that have turned into superstars while finally bringing some four-star talent in as well.
If you follow the trends of the latest winners, Stoops has a legitimate shot to win.
Last year, Scott Frost of UCF won the award after bringing UCF from winless to unbeaten in two years.
In 2016, Mike MacIntyre of Colorado won the award after guiding the Buffalos to a PAC 12 south victory after years of losing seasons.
Like Frost and MacIntyre, Stoops has turned a losing program into a winner. He is definitely a strong candidate for AP Coach of the year.