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Vaught's Views: Christmas card shows Stoops is reaching out to Kentucky fan base

December 21, 2012|By LARRY VAUGHT | larry@amnews.com
  • Kentucky coach Mark Stoops sent this Christmas card to a season-ticket holder, an indication that he is trying to connect with the Wildcats' fan base.
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LEXINGTON — Mark Stoops may never have been a head coach before, but the new Kentucky coach certainly understands the value of connecting with fans.

I got this note from a Kentucky fan and long-time season ticket holder: “Today I received a Christmas card from Mark Stoops. Been a season ticket holder for 29 years, first time I ever received a Christmas card from the football coach.”

Wow. That's the way to reach out and touch a fan base. Send a card of you and your family to let fans know you appreciate them for continuing to spend money and buy tickets, especially at a time when sales decreased. Nothing complicated, but as this long-time season-ticket holder noted, it meant something.

“Coach Stoops recognizes fans as a critical component to success.  He wants to reach out to our football supporters and with him being hired in December, this was a natural way to do so,” Kentucky media relations director Tony Neely said.

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There is more to X’s and O’s to running a football program, especially one that needs rejuvenating, and something as simple as sending a Christmas card to those buying tickets is an idea that makes me wonder why no other UK coach has tried it before.

Stoops has adjusted nicely to dealing with details like that after being the defensive coordinator at Florida State, where he didn't have to worry about things like that.

“That is new. It’s something that I am comfortable with being around my brothers and coaching with my brother Mike. Seeing him start that program (at Arizona) and go out and do the things you’re talking about and greet people and shake hands and talk I think helped prepare me for this situation,” Stoops said.

“Of course, watching Bob for all these years, really keeping a close eye on the way he does things (at Oklahoma), because I just admire the way he handles himself. I’ve watched him for a long time, and being a part of it with Mike, I think, gives me a lot of experience other first-year head coaches don’t have.

“And then, of course, being in the situation at Florida State and being such a high-profile school, and the great importance that you have there. I think it prepares me. But I understand I’ve still got some work to do and that’s understandable. I’m doing the best I can.”

Stoops said there have been no “big surprises” during his first 2 1/2 weeks on the job, but things have been “overwhelming” at times.

“I don’t think there’s any way around that for anybody, whether you’ve been a head coach or not — maybe it helps, I’m sure it probably helps if you’ve been a head coach. But I know Bobby told me that before I took it, and Mike, that the couple first days your head would be spinning and you’d sit there and ask yourself, ‘What in the world have you done to yourself?’ because your life certainly has changed,” he said. “And it has.

“My wife has gotten a little bit mad at me from time to time because for the last 2 1/2 weeks I haven’t even had much time to even talk on the phone and check in on the boys. That’s been difficult on the family, and we understand that goes with the territory. My wife does a good job keeping me grounded at times.”

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