By LARRY VAUGHT
Eastern Kentucky coach Walt Wells was lavish in his praise of Kentucky coach Mark Stoops last week even before the Colonels lost 28-17 to UK.
“He’s one of the best guys ever to work for. He respects your opinion, your family time,” Wells said. “He is going to let you know that is how it is going to be done. Most people want direction.”
Wells has been coaching in Kentucky since he joined Eastern Kentucky coach Roy Kidd’s staff in 1997 from 2002. He also spent 10 years at Western Kentucky, came back to Eastern in 2015 before going to UK for the 2018-19 seasons. He’s been head coach at Eastern the last four years.
Wells also coached at the University of South Florida and New Mexico State and has a huge appreciation for what Stoops has done at UK to make the Cats a consistent winner and bowl team.
“It is a different SEC than when coach (Paul ‘Bear’) Bryant was working at Kentucky and he has done the best job of anybody at Kentucky in the football department bar none,” Wells said.
“He has done a phenomenal job and continues to do so. Ten wins in two different years (2018 and 2021) is pretty phenomenal. Ten wins is hard to get. I just really respect him. I know I sound like his agent but just look at what Kentucky is doing.
“He has to deal with NIL, transfer portal and maybe the greatest coach of all time in Nick (Saban) and other great coaches in the SEC. No disrespect to Kentucky but it was known as a football school until Mark Stoops got there.”
Stoops now has a school-record 68 wins, including 48 home victories. Kentucky has gone 56-33 after Stoops started his UK tenure winning only 12 of his first 38 games.