It's pretty clear Mark Stoops' first year on the job impressed his boss.
On Tuesday, Kentucky announced that Stoops received a contract extension that will take him through the 2018 season, giving the second-year coach five more years on his current contract.
"We had the nation's second-largest increase in attendance last season, and we have had the two largest spring game attendances in school history," athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement through the school. "In recruiting, Mark and his tireless assistant coaches have made an obvious impact with their first two classes, and their momentum is carrying forward for 2015."
Stoops has done far more than his 2-10 debut season in Lexington might let on. He has been a champion recruiter, injected some much-needed enthusiasm throughout the program and brought a more competitive edge to the play on the field. You might not see it in the league standings (0-8 in conference play), but attendance for home games grew by 9,781 in Stoops' first year, which was the second-highest improvement in the nation. His first spring game brought in a record-crowd of 50,831, which shattered the previous year's attendance of 4,500.
Where Stoops has really made his mark is in recruiting, signing the nation's 36th-ranked class in 2013 and the 20th-ranked class in 2014. In that span, he has signed eight ESPN 300 members, including six in his 2014 class, and has potential budding stars in quarterback Drew Barker and receivers Ryan Timmons and Thaddeus Snodgrass, all part of his first two classes. He also has brought in junior college standouts such as defensive end Za'Darius Smith, wide receiver Javess Blue and defensive tackle Cory Johnson.
There's still a lot of work to do in Lexington, and Stoops knows that. He and his players weren't happy about going 2-10 last season. Their goal is to make a bowl game this year, but they also understand that it's going to be a long process before this program is up and running like they want.
Stoops is on course with the attitude adjustment and the talent injection, and with a few years added to his contract, it's very clear that his boss believes Stoops is steering this program in the right direction.