Mark Stoops has completely turned the Kentucky Wildcats football program around during his decade leading the Cats.
That reached a new level this week when the Cats were ranked in the AP Poll to begin the season for the first time since 1978 as Kentucky will start the season ranked No. 20.
While the BBN has recognized the job Stoops has done for a while, he is now starting to get recognition from the national media as well.
On Tuesday, ESPN released their ranking of the top 40 head coaches, and Stoops was named the fourth best “overachiever.”
In the rankings, ESPN had four categories: National Contenders, Next Up. Overachievers, and Fast Starts with each category ranking coaches 1-10.
Stoops was named the fourth-best overachiever with Mississippi State’s Mike Leach (No. 1), Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald (No. 2), and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell (No. 3) ranked ahead of him.
“Stoops doesn’t like Kentucky being called a basketball school, even by UK’s own basketball coach,” Adam Rittenberg wrote. “But he has redefined what the program can achieve on the football field. He has guided Kentucky to its most consistently successful stretch since Bear Bryant in the early 1950s. The Wildcats have made a team-record six consecutive bowl appearances, winning the past four, also a team record. They recorded 10 victories with AP top-20 finishes in both 2018 and 2021.”
I would argue that Stoops has a better resume than all three coaches ranked ahead of him.
Leach overachieved at Texas Tech and Washington State, but he has a below .500 record so far at Mississippi State.
Fitzgerald has done a great job at Northwestern. But since he took the job in 2006, he holds a losing record in conference play with a 64-68 record.
Campbell has been at Iowa State since 2016 and has yet to produce a 10-win season while Stoops has gone to six straight bowl games and posted two 10-win seasons in the last four years.
Where do you think Stoops should have been ranked? Let us know in the comments section!
You can check out the full rankings from ESPN here.