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SEC Media Days 2015: Mark Stoops says year three brings expectations

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"It's great to be back. Really glad the first two years trying to build this program didn't kill me, but the first two years really went extremely fast," Stoops said with a smile. "And as we move forward, we've worked extremely hard to make Kentucky relevant in the SEC east. As we move into this third year, we really feel like we put ourselves in a position to do just that.

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

HOOVER, Ala. -- Mark Stoops always seems to get the short end of the stick here at SEC Media Days.

Last year Stoops was placed on Thursday, towards the end, and at that point most reporters had checked out.

This year he was scheduled behind hometown favorite Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide players.

But Stoops -- who came dressed in a traditional suit and dress shoes (I must clarify now after yesterday's Mullen moment and today's Bielema bravado) -- walked in, confident and all, and addressed the media on his Wildcats program.

"It's great to be back. Really glad the first two years trying to build this program didn't kill me, but the first two years really went extremely fast," Stoops said with a smile. "And as we move forward, we've worked extremely hard to make Kentucky relevant in the SEC east. As we move into this third year, we really feel like we put ourselves in a position to do just that.

The stadium renovations accompanied by a level of recruiting that's since shocked some experts are a reason for Stoops to be pleased. Going into year three, pleased though won't suffice.

"Our players, fans, coaches, everybody's excited and anxious to take that field in basically a brand dew stadium," said Stoops of the renovations at Commonwealth Stadium. Senior nose guard Melvin Lewis added, "I'm kind of on the same side as Coach Stoops. I just can't wait to see it. We're very excited about it. We really can't wait until we're able to play in there on September 5 against Louisiana-Lafayette."

After a 5-1 start that had many Wildcats fans thinking big, Stoops' Wildcats ran into the gauntlet that was the SEC West and were unable to clinch a bowl bid.

Motivation for this season? Lewis thinks so.

"It was tough but we have to put that behind us. We have been working very hard this spring, winter, and summer. Hopefully it will all pay off," Lewis said.

New stadium, year three, and a great group of seniors. That's what Stoops has going for him.

"We know we still have a long way to go. That's why we have a bunch of practices to go. We have some newcomers coming in and we feel very good about the progress of our football team," Stoops concluded.