In the middle of October last season an uncomfortable comparison was stirring in Big Orange Country. Butch Jones may have recently called the Florida loss the lowest point of his career, but two weeks later the Vols still couldn't run the ball, couldn't find the end zone against Ole Miss, and went back to Knoxville 3-4 and without a quarterback.
Meanwhile in Lexington, Kentucky was 5-1 in mid-October, and the one was a painful woulda-shoulda-coulda triple overtime affair against those same Gators. But Kentucky had followed up with a 45-38 win over South Carolina and a blowout of Louisiana-Monroe. At that point, it was fair to ask if Kentucky had made a better hire in Mark Stoops than the Vols did in Butch Jones.
Of course, you know the rest of the story: Josh Dobbs and Butch Jones' Vols rebounded to win four of their last five games, including an even less likely win at South Carolina and an emphatic blowout of Iowa in the Taxslayer Bowl. Kentucky went from 5-1 to 5-7, giving up 41+ points in five of those losses down the stretch. And no one is asking that question right now.
However, just because Stoops lost six in a row at the end of the year and hasn't pulled in a Top 10 recruiting class (yet) doesn't mean the foundation he's laying in Lexington isn't just as impressive as the one Butch Jones is building in Knoxville, relatively speaking. Much like James Franklin at Vanderbilt, Stoops doesn't have to pull in a Top 10 class to still be recruiting at a higher level than anyone has seen in the bluegrass before.
Mark Stoops Recruiting - 247 Consensus
- 2013: 34th overall, two four-stars
- 2014: 22nd overall, six four-stars
- 2015: 39th overall, two four-stars
- 2016: currently 7th overall, two four-stars committed
- 2012: 50th overall, one four-star
- 2011: 37th overall, two four-stars
- 2010: 47th overall