In some cases, the assorted press at SEC Media Days had reasons for trying to get out of Hoover before Kentucky started its press conference. In other cases, they didn't. But everyone seemed to have mentally checked out between Nick Saban's presentation and when Mark Stoops stepped to the stage.
It's not easy for the coach of a team that has gone 4-20 over the last two years to get attention, even if Stoops is only responsible for the second of two consecutive 2-10 seasons. A couple of times, the moderator almost seemed to be begging for questions from the audience. But what were they going to ask? There were some obvious questions -- Stoops' decision to leave Florida State the year before the Seminoles won the national title; the Wildcats' recruiting success; some of the big-picture questions that are obviously for preplanned features.
Others, though, were visible stretches:
I was looking at the schedule. You had a really close game against South Carolina. Were you able to use any of that as motivation going into this season against them?
Looking at the schedule, I noticed Louisville is now at the end. Is that a permanent switch?
I don't remember if the same person asked both questions, but they both practically scream, "I'M TRYING TO FIND A QUESTION TO ASK." The moving of the Louisville-Kentucky game was announced almost a year ago, and there was never any issue about whether it was a temporary or permanent. And if the win against South Carolina is going to serve as motivation, it would have to a recent phenomenon: After playing a tight game against the Gamecocks, Kentucky lost to all six of its remaining FBS opponents, by an average of 24.8 points.
And then there was this.
What excites you about getting up in the morning, saying, I get to coach University of Kentucky football?
Personally, I was a bit curious about Stoops having left Florida State for Kentucky. But the Wildcats coach said he has no regrets. He even suggested that he scandalously rooted for the ACC team -- the horror!
I did not miss being there, but I was very proud of Florida State. I was very proud of the work that I put in there with Coach Fisher, being on his staff from day one, laying the foundation, seeing the hard work that we put in to lay that foundation. Was very close to a lot of players there. ...
I know this is SEC country. Believe me, I'm all for this conference 100 percent. But in that case I was tied too close to the Florida State program.
It's a bit unfortunate. Stoops seems like a perfectly nice guy, and he's certainly no more boring than Gary Pinkel, or Stoop's immediate predecessor of Joker Phillips. But before Stoops can command the attention of the reporters in the ballroom at Hoover, he's going to have to get their attention on the field. Turn around Kentucky, and the questions will come. And at that point, they're just the icing on the cake.