Kentucky HC Mark Stoops Bashes Kirby Smart, Accuses Him Of Buying His Players

In the aftermath of an embarrassing 51-13 loss to the #1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs, Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops made a public plea for increased financial support for his football program.

Stoops expressed his concerns during his weekly radio show, responding to an upset fan’s comment about Georgia’s success, which he attributed to their ability to acquire top talent.

“I can promise you – Georgia, they bought some pretty good players,” Stoops remarked.

“You’re allowed to these days, and we could use some help. That’s what they look like when you have 85 of ’em … I encourage anybody that’s disgruntled to pony up some more.”

Stoops was very fair in what he was saying and made it clear that Kirby is not doing anything wrong … He just wishes he had the same resources to work with that the mighty Bulldogs do. 

The comment stirred discussions around the substantial financial disparities between college football programs, with some interpreting Stoops’ remarks as an indirect reference to the NIL deals that provide financial compensation to student-athletes.

Rewarding your current players is one thing … But buying (bribing) unproven high school players is an extremely sticky subject among college coaches. 

To his credit, Smart brushed off Stoops’ comments and refused to take any bait…

“No reaction. It’s much to do about nothing,” Kirby stated. “I think Mark is trying to garner interest for money from his fan base for his collective, and we’re all trying to do the same in terms of trying to get money for the collective.”

“Mark and I talked about NIL pregame, and we talked about it in our meeting … I’m not biting on that.”

The controversy bears similarities to a previous incident when Alabama’s Nick Saban accused Texas A&M of “buying every player on their team.”

Saban’s comment ignited a public feud with A&M coach Jimbo Fisher.

Stoops attempted to clarify his remarks on Wednesday, asserting his love for Kentucky fans and claiming that his words had been “taken completely out of context.”

“Basically, one person was questioning me and the program and getting over the hump,” Stoops explained. “I really simply should have said, ‘Hey, dude, I’ve gotten over a lot of humps. That’s not a hump, that’s Mount Everest.'”

Prior to the Georgia matchup, Kentucky was riding high with an undefeated 5-0 record and the #20 ranking in the AP Top 25.

However, the Bulldogs dominated the Wildcats on the field, leading 34-7 by halftime and outgaining their SEC East opponent 608-183 in total yards. 

Georgia has now won 14 consecutive games against Kentucky, with their last loss to the Wildcats dating back to November 2009.

In the aftermath, Stoops took responsibility for the defeat, stating: “Georgia beat us in every area … Kirby’s probably happy. He’s probably trying to rally up more money, too.”

“We all need it – it’s just the way it is. I wasn’t taking any shots. I took full responsibility. We got our butts beat, we need to respond better, and that’s it.”

“Kirby and I are friends and colleagues. To me, I was responding to one person at a radio show, and that was one part that was taken completely out of context.”

What is your take on the whole world of NIL?