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Managing Kentucky Football Fan Expectations


Across the board, every Kentucky player, coach and fan thinks Saturday’s performance against Florida was unacceptable, especially early on. The Cats came out flat, played without intelligence and looked scared for the entire opening quarter of a game that was blessed (or cursed) with a national television audience. However in the normal post-game hand-wringing, another theme emerged beyond the bad play itself. Specifically, some fans have a completely unreasonable expectation of what Kentucky football should be. In the conversations at the tailgates, on the message boards and over the call-in shows, many fans openly wondered whether Rich Brooks/Joker Phillips could take Kentucky to the “next level” and whether these coaches would ever be “SEC caliber.” Forgetting the last three years, some even went so far as to wonder if change was necessary and spoke as to the embarrassment of being so far behind the top of the SEC. Implicit in these arguments was one simple belief…Kentucky can (and should) be a top football program nationally and if they are not there, something is wrong.

This is an argument I have thought a lot about in recent years and I have come to a rather unpopular conclusion. Simply put, Kentucky football cannot be a Top 10 program nationally and fans who use that as the criteria or goal are simply fooling themselves. Because of that belief, I think what Rich Brooks has done at Kentucky is amazing…he has taken the program to what I think is truly the epitome of its potential….winning 6-8 games a year, making a bowl every season and every 5th year or so producing a team that can make some national waves. There are a lot of reasons that go into this formulation, but two without question form the majority of the basis for this conclusion: (1) The State of Kentucky’s recruiting base and (2) playing in the SEC


College football recruiting is the complete opposite of college basketball. In basketball, the location of a program is irrelevant, as the coach, mystique, fan base, history, etc of the program determines success in recruiting. Football is different. Simply put, the best football programs are the teams in the places with the best football talent….period. Unlike in basketball, kids tend to stay close to home MUCH more in football, causing the locale of the program to be a great indicator of success. Whereas 20 years ago, only a few programs were on television every year, now virtually every team has games on national tv and playing at any college can get you the chance to make it to the NFL. Thus players stay close to home and the schools with large talent bases end up being at the top.

Quick, lets name the best programs year in and year out in college football:

Penn State
Ohio State
Virginia Tech

What do all those schools have in common? All of them are located in states with HUGE talent bases that produce infinite amounts of players that can play big time Division I football. Want to know why a school like Nebraska or Notre Dame is no longer a national power? You can point to lots of small reasons, but the biggest is simple…they no longer have a monopoly on national coverage and they can no longer recruit the best players in their region. Nebraska loses players to Kansas, Iowa, Kansas State, etc and Notre Dame no longer is the only team to play on national television every week. The result is simple…the loss of prestige to programs that dont reside in places where players grow on trees.


This problem occurs even more profoundly in the SEC. Take a look at this article which ranks NFL players by the state they played high school football on a per capita basis. What do you see? Well four of the top five states on the list (Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Alabama) produce six of the schools in the SEC. Then add to that the fact that two schools in the conference (Florida and Georgia) produce major talent but happen to just have major population bases, and one can see why the deck is stacked for Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Arkansas and Kentucky.

But in all actuality, the situation is probably worse for Kentucky than any other school in the conference. The simple reality is that no state in the SEC produces less Division I talent than Kentucky. On a given year, the state of Kentucky might produce 7-10 guys that really are good enough to play elite Division I football. A couple of those guys end up at Louisville, a couple might get suckered into a Big Ten school and thus Kentucky is only left with 4-6 guys AT MOST that truly are top-level SEC caliber from the state. That means that Joker Phillips and company must go into the home territory of other top programs in the South and Midwest and try to convince players to pick a program that is (a) farther away and (b) usually less successful than their home school. That is virtually impossible. So what they end up doing is looking for the best players the home schools dont take and grabbing them, hoping that some turn into gems. That has worked for the Cats (especially with Joker in Georgia) and can produce very good teams…but it cant produce CONSISTENT national contenders.

The importance of homegrown talent cannot be overstated. Take the best team in recent UK history…the 2007 team. There are many reasons for that team’s success, but one of the biggest is that it was the one year that the state of Kentucky produced NFL talent in one big group. The leaders of that team were Andre’ Woodson, Keenan Burton and Jacob Tamme…all guys that went on to play at the next level. If the state of Kentucky produced those guys every year, teams that could win 9 or 10 games a season could be possible…but it doesnt. Classes like that are rare and special, and unfortunately are nowhere close to the norm. That leaves the Cats severely undermanned in all the key positions.

Some look at the above argument and say, “well what about Boise State, Utah, Cincinnati, Louisville under Petrino, etc”. And there is something to that argument…except for the fact that none of those teams have EVER had to play anything resembling an SEC schedule. When has one of those teams won a game as impressive as a road game at Florida, LSU or Georgia? The answer is never. While Boise can get up for Oklahoma or Utah for Alabama once a year, what if they played the stretch UK has right now? Care to guess what Boise’s record would be if they hosted the Gators, Tide and then went to South Carolina and Auburn? I dont think they would even win 2 of the 4, but that is what Kentucky has to face on a yearly basis.

None of this is to excuse the performance last Saturday or to say that Kentucky should “accept mediocrity.” I want Kentucky to be as great as anyone and think that 100 percent effort should be expected at all times. But I also think that what Brooks has done at Kentucky has been pretty amazing. As Steve Spurrier has shown us at South Carolina, you can take a GREAT old ball coach and put him in the SEC East, recruiting against the best of the best and he may never win over 8 games. Rich Brooks has had a similar three year run to Spurrier, and has done it in a state that produces 25 percent of the talent that is grown in the Palmetto state. That deserves praise, not scorn.

It goes against most of our attitudes of “never say die”, but the facts are the facts. Making Kentucky a Top Fifteen program nationally is not in the cards, not only for Rich Brooks, but likely for anyone. The combination of the lack of Kentucky high school football talent and playing in the SEC almost ensures it. But what CAN happen is that a coach can put together a consistent WINNING program, that goes to bowl games, competes in every game and every 4th or 5th year (when the talent in Kentucky and the out of state gems fall into place) is in the conversation nationally. Rich Brooks and Joker Phillips have come very close to doing that here, and that performance in my view deserves a great deal of praise. Those that cant give such praise probably find their problem less in the team’s performance than in their own expectation levels.

Article written by Matt Jones

166 responses to “Managing Kentucky Football Fan Expectations”


    MJ on the spot again. The fact that you even had to write this is crazy. I’m really at a loss for words. I bet Glenn Beck is telling these people we should be a top tier SEC team, or whatever delusions of grandeur these crazies have. Anyways, I am please with the progress. Keep it up Brooks. And oh yeah. First?!?!

  2. UKKILLA005

    good article that is truth..sometimes the truth hurts

  3. mocha

    jones, you just said what many people/fans think but are too scared to admit.
    just facts brother, it’s just facts.

  4. UKKILLA005

    i bet keith olberman is telling these people we should be a top tier SEC team

  5. catdawg

    Every so often you pull out one of these post that is the true reason I keep coming back. You could not have expained the situation any better.

  6. bluemadness

    it just sucks that i can predict next year we will be ranked 2nd to last in the sec, have 7 wins and go to the liberty bowl.

    South Carolina sure turned their program around with a big hire.

  7. MoreEricC.ConnVids

    4. Keith Olberman isn’t that stupid.

  8. SagaciousMind

    Yeah I was looking at Florida’s commitment lists of the past few years on scout and its pretty astounding the amount of 4 and 5 stars players they have that are from right there in Florida. And when Kentucky does produce top talent, they go to a bigger name school. Even Florida plucked away a guy from Louisville. If UK can start competing though, just being in the SEC alone is enough to bring in recruits. They just have to start competing and not look like a door mat. I wouldn’t say that UK wouldn’t never be a top 10 or top 15 team, I would just say it wouldnt happen often. I remember when UK sucked so bad the only way to catch a game was on the radio. I remember being lucky to win 2 or 3 games a year. I think watch the coaching staff has done is pretty amazing as well, but sometimes that staff makes stupid decisions, like play calls, and that has showed in several games over the past few years. I hope they can at least complete with Alabama. Last year we should have beat Bama, but shot ourselves in the football. UK has a tendency to hurt themselves and to also lose games in the 4th quarter. When they can stop doing that, we can at least be competitive and have more big name recruits consider UK.


    6. im not sure how much i agree with you. but by all means correct me if im wrong. has SC drastically improved since Spurrier? If so it has flown under my humble radar. If anyone has some stats, etc. to fill me in, it would be appreciated.

  10. bluemadness

    A lot of good pro coaches just sitting on the sidelines this season. Not all of them are going to get the washington and cleveland job.

  11. JaredCarterIsMyHomeboy

    I agree. This is why we are a basketball school.

  12. Puttin on the Ritz

    Obviously Kentucky is at the bottom of talent in the SEC, and I agree that it will take a lightning in a bottle season to be a top 10 team in a season, but a factual error in your post. These are KY high school players that have made an active NFL roster since Rivals has had a database (2002).

    Justin Miller (Clemson), Chris Barclay (Wake)

    Mike Bush (UofL), Keenas Burton (UK), Jacob Tamme (UK)

    Briam Brohm (UofL), Myron Pryor (UK), Garry Williams (UK)

    Mike Mitchell (Ohio), CJ Spillman (Marshall)
    Brandon Deaderick from Alabama is also likely to join this group.

    Micah is the only lock, but Stocker had been graded as high as the 3rd round by some projections, and there are a few guys that are borderline late rounders so who knows how that will turn out.

    Notice that list does not include guys like Andre Woodson, Mario Urrutia, and George Bussey who were drafted and didnt make a roster.

    Also guys like Early Heyman, Brandent Engleman, Arliss Beach, Marcus McClinton, etc… who have been signed on various practice squads in teh NFL.

    In summary it looks like about 3 guys a year make an active NFL roster, and depending on how redshirting goes UK could have 12-15 players on the roster from instate that make the NFL. And that is with using only about 10 scholarships a year, when is the last time UK had 12-15 guys on the roster, if ever?

    Obviously there the likely hood of landing every instate player is low, but Brohm is really the only kid on that list we would have no shot with under any circumstance. U realize we probably had no shot at Bush, but with the right coash and staff we do have a hot under normal circumstances.

  13. catdawg

    Right now it just seems when UK plays Florida and UT they are beat even before they take the field. I think this is for two reasons. 1st they can’t get past the streak, it makes them feel inferior no matter how good UF or UT is for that season. 2nd I think it really gets the UF and UT staffs and teams up because they don’t want to be known as the team or coach that let UK finally win one. Otherwise how can we beat a number 1 LSU and nearly beat a top 5 Bama team last year only to continue to get blown away by these two.

  14. sangaman

    Matt this is one of the best pieces you’ve ever written and one of the best opinion/analysis posts on KSR ever, in my opinion. You make a very good argument. One thing I think you forgot to mention is that UK loses some of its football recruiting power because it is very much a “basketball school.” Football players at UK can not achieve the same level of fame and recognition as basketball players do. The football team doesn’t have the same storied history that the basketball team has. Jodie Meeks breaking the scoring record for UK garnered MUCH more attention than, for example, Andre Woodson breaking several touchdown records for the SEC/UK as well as the interception-free streak for all schools. This has to factor into the recruitment of top notch football prospects who have a legitimate shot at breaking records and being stars in college football.

    I absolutely agree that UK football fans should temper their expectations and be happy with the progress we’ve made over the last 5 years. I am a basketball fan first and I hope UK remains a basketball school, but that doesn’t stop me from rooting for and supporting our football team. Besides, we beat Louisville again this year, and isn’t that what’s most important?

  15. bluemadness

    Didnt we used to beat on SC? And since Spurrier arrived how have we done? And this im not sure about but would be interesting is compare the bowl games they have attended in the last 4 years to our last 4 years. I havent looked so i have no idea

  16. Puttin on the Ritz

    #12, just reread my last sentence, obviously I slipped a little. Here is the English version:

    I realize we probably had no shot at Bush, but with the right coach and staff we do have a shot under normal circumstances.

  17. ISkipMud

    Truth. Take a look at what he did at Oregon. He didn’t win consistently every year there but he set up a foundation for a lot of success in the future. Bellotti wasn’t extremely experienced as head coach before taking over but look what he did when he took over after Brooks. I think Brooks has set up the same pattern here and Joker Phillips can do just as well.

  18. rajon9rondo

    if you dont strive for greatness, you will never attain it.

  19. rajon9rondo

    speaking of oregon, they are a top program year in and year out…exactly what kind of in-state recruiting base do they have?

  20. catdawg

    Can’t count Oregon the play in the weak Pac 10. LOL

  21. MoreEricC.ConnVids

    14. Absolutely agree about being a basketball school hurting football. The other thing we have top notch basketball facilities. We are towards the bottom in football compared to other SEC schools. Add all of these things together and you have what you have a team who could be a top tier team in almost every other conference but can never move up the chain in SEC. I will say teams such as Kansas, Iowa, and a few others seem to be able to make that jump we can’t. I know some such as Iowa have history we don’t but still they do it with lack of a ton of highly ranked players. I’m not expecting SEC championships but the fact recruiting isn’t progressing and I feel we will always be stuck in 6-7 win range is frustrating. I just want to look forward to 9-10 wins once every 5 years.

  22. Puttin on the Ritz

    Current instate commitments from SEC teams in the 2010 class:

    Alabama 9 of 21 from instate
    Arkansas 2 of 11
    Auburn 8 of 16
    Florida 10 of 15
    Georgia 10 of 18
    LSU 9 of 22
    Miss St. 8 of 11
    Ole Miss 2 of 10
    South Carolina 6 of 17
    Tennessee 1 of 21
    Vandy 0 of 21 (18 3-star players)

    Probably not as many as people would think, while our home talent base doesnt do us any favors, we have to do a better job out of state as well.

  23. tubbyrulz

    I don’t expect Kentucky to be a top 10 team, but if Louisville can do it with Petrino then Kentucky should be able to do it too. We don’t have to beat Florida,LSU, or Alabama, but the rest of the SEC is a toss up.

  24. bluemadness

    Jones explain to me West Virgina again?

  25. catdawg

    Wasn’t but just a few years ago UK was in the top 10. I don’t see UL in the top ten any longer. This same argument goes for WVU, Cincy and Rutgers. WVU will more than likely be there more often than the rest but they can’t maintain it either and they also play in a weaker conference whether anyone from the Little East wants to admit it or not. However, look at USF a team that hasn’t even been around many years and look at what they are doing. Why well their located in Florida. Did anyone see the stat that ESPN put up on the Florida schools during the UK game? That just about says it all.

  26. bluemadness

    100% agreed 24

  27. secretagent0014

    I think it was Rich Brooks who said he wanted to climb the SEC ladder.

  28. bluemadness

    29 i think our rope is snagged on something!

  29. catdawg

    We have climbed that ladder just haven’t got near the top. Teams other than two no longer look at UK as given wins. They at least know they have to show up and play us now.

  30. wickedgood

    once again matt you are the most realistic sports voice we have.i never read sports pages or lexington news for sure. i am always amazed how far KSR has have replaced oscar combs and the cats pause for info, i hope you are always involved in ky wildcat news.i wish you could explain your national views as thoroughly as this article does justice to coach brooks and expectations.

  31. bluemadness

    What kind of record would we have in the big east, big ten…….?

  32. catdawg

    I think we could expect 8 to 9 wins most years.

  33. C4LisMyH3R0

    matt jones check your e-mail, about the big blue madness/erupption zone tickets!!

  34. rajon9rondo

    obviously oregon has an easier conference schedule than us, as does any other team thats not in the sec. my point is that they consistently have more talented players on their team than we do even though their homegrown talent is probably comparable to ours.

  35. rajon9rondo

    and i dont see what nikes money has to do with the state of oregons program…it helps with their facilities but its not like uk is exactly hurting for obscenely rich alumni that donate to the athletic department.

  36. mattcat68

    Jones, I totally disagree with you on this. UK could become a top 10 football team. They play in the SEC east, which has great allure for recruits accross the nation. Kentucky hasn’t produced great basketball talent over the last couple of decades either, yet UL and UK are considered elite programs. They simply draw recruits from other regions. All UK needs is the right coach. Much like Calipari and UK basketball, you get the right football coach here and the talent will follow. It is the SEC east, the best conference in college football. With a popular coaching staff that recruits want to play for, UK could be right up there in a few years. Now will it happen, I doubt it, but it is definitely possible.

  37. rajon9rondo

    the state of oklahoma does not have top 10 talent…just take a look at their current roster and you will see that the vast minority of their team in actually from in-state

  38. rajon9rondo
  39. rajon9rondo

    btw, i am extremely pleased with the progress we have made with rich brooks at the helm….but i understand why some would like to see continue the progress we have made instead of remaining stagnant

    but then again, we could end up going back to the days of only winning 2-3 games a year…or we could be louisville, whichevers worse

  40. bluemadness


  41. Carolina Blue is past tense for CAROLINA BLOWS

    Great stuff Jones. Also, if this has already been stated, then I am sorry.

    I have stated for years that UK could not be a “top” contender year in and year out and it was simply for two reasons.

    1. Lack of talent and short high school seasons (practice) compared to our rival states.

    2. Kentucky is the northern most state in the SEC thus making it hard to recruit against schools that offer better weather and richer traditions with the pigskin.

    I am happy with the results and direction of Papa Brooks. When Curry was here, I simply wanted a team that would play hard, compete and give us chance to win. Which he did not do. Did anyone truly think that we could play with Florida? Seriously? In all of my years of watching the CATS what is the worst team that we could play? ONE THAT HAS A QB THAT CAN RUN. Sure it was a bad showing and a bit deflating but it was one game. Let the season play out and then pass judgement. Injuries and lack of depth could ruin our season but Brooks could shove a tomatoe up everyone’s tail and motivate them to upset Alabama. Go Cats.

  42. rajon9rondo

    i would say ohio produces more than a decent amount of talent. not as much as texas, california, florida, and maybe georgia, but i would put them in right after that. although they probably dont have the kids with great speed that is necessary to win in the sec

    we should be able to offer the kids in ohio a chance to stay close to home along with the allure of playing in the sec instead of the big 11

  43. MoreEricC.ConnVids

    Matt, while I agree wouldn’t you say that you are somewhat shocked we’re being out recruited in the rankings by Rutgers, Arizona St., Maryland, WVU, Virginia, Minnesota, Missouri. Now I know the argument that Virginia produces good talent and Maryland has Under Armour, Arizona St. has California to recruit from, etc. But some of these schools are shocking considering our recent success on the field. Again I’m not saying we should out recruit the top 10-20 teams but the allure of playing in SEC is pretty high and we are getting 2 at most-4 star recruits. I never expect 5 but a few 4, and we are missing on a lot of 3 stars, closer to our region going cross country to play. I am shocked we aren’t closer to top 30 in recruiting, top 30 doesn’t move us from #11 in SEC but closes the gap in talent that much more from top SEC teams.

  44. bluemadness

    By the way the sky is blue

  45. Carolina Blue is past tense for CAROLINA BLOWS

    #48–Did you miss Jones’ point? Kids stay close to home. Compare that to the schools you mentioned and then ask yourself that question again. I live in Phoenix and can tell you that guys come here for:
    1. Play in the PAC-10
    2. Weather
    3. Girls
    4. Stay close to home
    5. Girls
    6. Weather
    7. Program with a proven coach (National Title).
    8. Chance to win against lesser talent while gettin exposure.
    9. Weather
    10. Did I mention the girls?

  46. Carolina Blue is past tense for CAROLINA BLOWS

    #49–Really? I could not tell because I thought it was falling.

  47. Flop

    In-state talent levels are definitely a disadvantage, but I think playing in the SEC is the greatest disadvantage of all.

    The rise from basement dweller to BCS bowl contender status that we’ve seen at programs such as Oregon, USF, Louisville, and Illinois, among others, would have never happened if they were facing SEC competition day in and day out. Even still, look how hard it’s been for those programs to keep away from doormat status.

    As much as it hurts and as much as we’d never like to admit it (myself definitely included), it’s 100% possible that UK may never be more than a mid-level team in the SEC. If this truly is the best we can hope for (gag), then we might as well let Brooks and company see their plan to fruition and ride off into the sunset. They’ve earned it.

    Let’s be honest. If we could have a mediocre football team and a top 10 basketball team for the rest of our lives, we’d all take it in a heartbeat.

  48. bluemadness

    The announcers at the Wisc. game made a good point. Wisc competes year in and year out and they dont bring in the top recruits every year but players that can play and be successful in the coaches playing style.

  49. secretagent0014

    Well Matt you’ve helped me make my decision no point in keeping the season tickets if this is as good as gets. 😉

  50. mashburnfan1

    I thought we were headed in the right direction till Saturday. This was THE game theplayers wanted, waited on, circled at start of the year. Then they show up, no pun intended, with that 1st quarter performance. NO EXCUSE for it. Did I expect a win, no I hoped for one, but in no way did I expect to see that performance. UK beat LSU a couple years ago and should have beat Bama last year on the road. How do we still keep losing to UF 1000-0 last year and 31-0 in one quarter this year. We should at least be competitive.
    Also on the Tebow hit I think it is sad the DE celebrated, not because of the injury, because he was unblocked so he did nothing outstanding and his team was getting killed. What was he celebrating? Look at me I ran in untouched and hit a guy who did not see me. I could somewhat see it if he made a great move to get there or something but even then YOUR team was getting killed.

  51. Flop

    When you’re done here, check out the latest cartoon on the “diversity” of the Tennessee Vols basketball team.

    Bruce Pearl is an open-minded guy after all.

  52. catdawg

    55) I think he celebrated because he was he first to hit Tebow and actually put him on the ground. LOL

  53. wildkatninja

    47 if the Ohio players are that talented they will end up @ Ohio State they have a tradition of winning year in and year out. Don’t get me wrong I would love to be able to recruit those players but we are a long way off from competing with OSU for those type of guys.

  54. catdawg

    58) And if not at OSU they go to Michigan or Penn St.

  55. wildkatninja

    59 this is true

  56. AssistByJohnWall

    Famous Words from Pessimist/Cynic Jones: Kentucky football cannot be a Top 10 program nationally

    Hey Matt:

    1. Tell Ole Miss that they can’t be a top 10 program in football, which started the season ranked #4.

    1. Tell Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri that they can’t be a top 10 program in football, which each have shared time in the top 10 in the last 2 years.

    2. Tell Louisville that they can’t be a top 10 program in football before Bobby Petrino stopped in town.

    3. Tell Cincinnati that they can’t be a top 10 program in football before this year started (currently ranked #10).

    4. Tell Boise State that they can’t be a top 10 program in football before 5 years ago(currently ranked #5).

  57. wildkatninja

    All I can say is less than 3 weeks, midnight madness will begin our basketball domination!!!! GO CATS!!!!!!!!

  58. rajon9rondo

    yes but theyre still stuck in the big 11 though, which has proven over the past few years that they are barely a bcs conference. we have the draw of playing against the best players in the country week in and week out

  59. wildkatninja

    61 He is talking about year in year out basis not once every now and then

  60. wildkatninja

    BTW congrats 2 the Lions 4 their 1st win and getting the goose egg monkey off their backs!!!

  61. MoreEricC.ConnVids

    By the way the argument between Cobb and Hartline stats are very misleading.
    *Hartline no scoring drives vs. Lousiville
    *Cobb led all scoring against Norfolk St. didn’t start game however.
    *Middle Tenn St. hartline played QB the whole time 2 td’s against 5-7 team.
    *Hartline 1 Td against WKU under 200 yds.
    *Hartline 2 Td’s 1 int vs. Alabama
    *Hartline 0 Td’s 2Ints vs. South Carolina
    *Hartline 3 td’s 2 ints vs. Arkansas all 3 td’s you can think receivers. Smith took one 71 yards and Cobb caught other 2.
    *Hartline 7-16 33 yds 0 td’s 1 int, Cobb 9/18 78 yds, 52 rushing vs. florida
    *Cobb both td’s against Miss St. in a 14-13 win one rushing one passing
    *Cobb 100 yds passing 0 td 1 int, 82 rushing 3 tds in close 42-38 loss
    *Cobb 0 td 2 Ints, 72 rushing 1 td loss to Vandy
    * no stats to discuss in Tenn game no score from either
    Now I hate doing this but the comparison that was made between Cobb and Hartline and the backing of Hartline as QB and the stats are uncomparable.
    Hartline record of 8 wins 6 of which came against non conference non bowl teams. One of which Defense scored our points (Louisville), another in which Cobb played QB and scored all of our points (Norfolk St.), another against 1st year as a bowl division member (WKU), and Middle Tenn, then Miami Oh who didn’t score point in 1st 2 games, and U of L. Not to mention he had Dicky Lyons to throw the ball to as well as Cobb last year.
    Now let’s compare just SEC games.
    Hartline started 5 record 1-4 stats Cobb 1-3.
    Look I could debate this and show stats, etc., etc. But you get my point about the comparison there isn’t one because hartline gets wins over nobody and didn’t even lead them. While Cobb got his starts in SEC and without Dicky Lyons. Hartline isn’t the answer but I’m not sure we have an answer right now at QB just don’t throw that garbage of a comparison on a good site, I didn’t see that coming from you all. Now I’m tired a little drunk so going to sleep class comes early.

  62. pete

    Agree somewhat with you matt. And I hate to use UT as a comparison, but they don’t have good instate talent either. They hired a coach who gets them publicity(good and bad) and he put together a good recruiting staff, and last year they brought in the NUMBER 1 player in the country from Oklahoma last year. and by the way, they also have 8 4-star commitments for this year that are OUT OF STATE. I am not a fan who expects us to be top 10 in football every year. But you can’t deny that a big name coach can bring better talent here.

  63. billT

    I agree with most of what you said except for Oklahoma. Both Oklahoma and Oklahoma St have at least 10 more players from Texas on their teams than they do from Oklahoma. Oklahoma football wouldn’t be real good without Texans.


    61….i think youre missing what hes/we’re saying. were not talking about EVER being there. Hell we were ranked as high as 8th that year with Woodson and co. We’re talking about it being a regular thing. And that it will never be. Jones’ assessment of the program is dead on: “winning 6-8 games a year, making a bowl every season and every 5th year or so producing a team that can make some national waves”…maybe every now and then we in 9ish. But everything is stacked against us–toughest conference, basketball school, lack of recruiting base, etc. But I don’t see what the big deal is. Next thing people will say is that our baseball team should win the college world series every year, soccer team should do this, and womens’ volleyball should do that. I am all for striving to be the best. And I think this has come down to a clash of idealism (what we all went–the best for and from our football program) and realism (what we will likely achieve). Nothing wrong with a dose of the truth.

  65. pete

    ^ and i’m not saying this new staff are great coaches. I’m just trying to prove my point that a good recruiting staff can get kids from all over the country.

  66. MoreEricC.ConnVids

    50. Did you miss my point. Guys from this part of the country are choosing to go else where across the country. Look a lot of guys stay but a lot go else where and we aren’t getting them. Just as some pointed out Kansas, Missouri, etc. are getting better players than we are and they aren’t getting them in state. Look all I’m saying is I’m shocked we aren’t making more progress in recruiting not top 10-20 range but just outside top 25. People still want to play in SEC and we are struggling getting them theres a problem somewhere. We should be getting our best recruits ever coming off 3 straight bowls and coverage we’re getting and it’s not happening. We will never be top 10 in SEC but come on we’re not top 40 in recruiting how can we expect to ever make the leap to 8-9 wins without betters recruits.


    anybody else watching espn2? they’re showing our game this passed weekend…maybe so everyone can watch tebow get hit realtime….or maybe it’s so that everyone can watch the game and say ok, the first quarter is what you do not do against uf, but the rest…take some notes.
    Other than the 1st quarter, they only beat us 10-7…I know that’s a big omit, but seriously, for 3 quarters out of 4, we held the #1 team in the country in check!

  68. AssistByJohnWall

    #64 – wildkatninja – Yea, well we haven’t been ranked in the top 25 in football since Jesus snuck out the other side of the cave.

  69. AssistByJohnWall

    How about being ranking in the top 25. How about that????????????????????????????????????

    There are coaches who can do that at UK.

    Just like there are black guys who can become President of the US.

    Some of you guys are playing the seasons out in your minds and then associating that analysis like computer models to reality. The game isn’t played in your mind or on computers. Until you accept that your “reality” “period” comments are of little significance to what actually can occur.

  70. AssistByJohnWall

    I’m not calling for Coach Brooks head. I think he did better than many who would have taken the job could have done. He had the experience and the NFL name to be taken as legit and knows the game all the way to the laces. And we didn’t get in trouble. Curci showed you can win in Lexington, but let’s keep it clean folks.

    I think where a future crossroads will occur after Joker has been given the reigns. He will be expected to maintain the program to where it has been lifted.

    In a similar but not identical situation where Tubby took over for Pitino, unless Joker can assemble a truly powerful staff around him (and not get too cocky thinking he’s the man) then we could see Joker falling from grace. I love the guy, was coached by him in football camp at UK, and want his legacy to remain as untarnished as it is at the present time.

    Seriously people, ‘Tennis’ee has Lane Kiffin at coach. But they also have Monte “NFL Hall of Fame” Kiffin at Defensive Coordinator. Ed “I Can Buy Your Mom” Orgeron as recruiting coordinator.

    We could have Kige Ramsey as head coach (wearing the santa hat), as long as he’s surrounded by ‘real’ assets of the game, we could be in the top 25 occasionally. Let’s hope Brooks and Joker are lining up the team.

  71. rjr

    I generally agree with what you have posted- however, your reference to Michigan is not really accurate. As any Michigan fan will tell you- there isn’t enough division one talent in Michigan either. For years Michigan survived by raiding Ohio. Recently, their ability to get Ohio recruits has lessened. As a result, Michigan has fallen on harder and harder times.

  72. Secretariat

    While I generally agree with the assessment here, I think it is somewhat counterproductive because it undermines fan support, which I think plays VERY heavily in a recruit’s perception of a program. We may not have quite seen the full positive effects of PawPaw’s run here yet.

    The very fact that we are discussing this shows how far the program has come in the average fan’s perspective…and we won’t know how getting some “real” fan support may play into recruiting in the future. Player’s want to be somewhere that they feel will offer a great experience and great opportunities. We may not be able to be a top 10 program year in and year out, but if we invest fully in the variables that we CAN control (a great experience), then we may get at least close.

    So what can UK do as an institution and as a fan base to improve their chances of landing top-level recruits? Well, that’s open to debate, but I think we’re heading in the right direction with increased fan support and an administration that made the Brooks hire. There is a TON of revenue coming in these days- having THE BEST facilities in the country couldn’t hurt our chances (and would help on the perceived “opportunity” we offer our recruits)…but are we willing (as a “basketball school”) to make that investment? Think “Craft Center for football.” It has to be head-and-shoulders above the rest (if the rest of the SEC has an edge on tradition, we have to more than make up for it in other areas).

    I think Brooks is the man for the job…we’ll see if Joker can keep it rolling (I hope so!), but if not, then get on the look for the absolute best coach in the country and pay what it takes to get him- someone that players will go out of their way to play for.

    We are building the intangibles under Brooks (consistency, recognition, fan-support), but ultimately finances can make or break a program (just look at the BCS vs non-BCS argument). If UK is really serious about making their football program into something respectable (I didn’t say top-10, just respectable), then someone is going to have to make a decision to invest what it takes to make us stand out in the SEC crowd…not a small check to write.

  73. jstipp64

    You all kill me… Just last week you all were clobberring Matt because he said six wins… We loose ONE game to the NUMBER ONE team in the nation and there are actually people that say we need a new coach?.. get a grip people.. How would you like it if you had one bad day at the office against your top competitor and your “coworkers” thought you should be fired…WE LOST ONE GAME.. THATS IT.. JUST ONE

  74. SeoulCat

    Bad argument Matt. The Bluegrass isn’t exactly blessed with tons of bball talent either(look at the last few great UK teams–how many of those starters hailed from Kentucky?), yet, historically, we’ve done alright.

    As far as SEC success goes, just look at Tennessee & Mississippi. The state of Tennessee is not putting out quality prep talent, yet UT has done very, very well on the gridiron over the last few decades. Ole Miss (and Miss.St.), on the other hand, historically has been a place where the pigskin goes to die. Yet, Oxford is surrounded by (at least, according to the article) great talent? What happened?

    The University of Kentucky CAN be a top 10/15 football school. However, it will require the right coaches, continued support/fanaticism from the Big Blue Faithful, $$ for recruiting & facilities, and time.

  75. justme051

    could’nt disagree with you more on this one! how does tenn. get the best talent in the country? how did louisville become a top 10 team for the last few years if your theory is correct. it’s all in having a coach that draws the top kids. uk basketball basically was a 2nd rate school since pitino left. they are back on top now due to a single man coming!! this has very little to do with location. its just ky football fans dont expect much and thats what they get. it’s the same reason uk lady cats suck. nobody really cares.

  76. gcat4496

    What Brooks has done is amazing? The measuring stick is winning games you should not. He is starting to win the games that he should. And along the way the past few years we have won some games where we were underdogs: LSU, Georgia, Louisville and all three Bowls. Recruiting has been on an uptick but we will not see the fruits of that for a few years. I think what the fans would like to see now is the next step. Can we at least hang around with the top 10 SEC schools. Can we beat unranked teams like South Carolina, Tennessee and Vandy. If this season is to end with some momentum, the Cats need to win a few more games in the SEC. They must beat Miss State, Vandy, SC and Tenn. this year.

  77. WildcatNation

    66 — why are you stuck in LAST year?

  78. CatsFanInSC

    If the coaches and administration share the same mindset as Jones, UK football will never get to the top.

    Jones, you are the one with unreasonable expectations. Accepting mediocrity is well, unacceptable. Thank you for telling us all how to think, though. Or more precise, that we’re wrong in thinking that way.

    I personally don’t think the expectations are unrealistic. I do think that some fans need to learn more self control whether the football team lives up to those expectations or not.

    Brooks and staff have done a great job taking us from the proverbial doormat (in which most teams looked at us as a scrimmage), to a team that is not an easy win. (Excluding Florida) It’s only natural that fans want to move to that next step.

    However, I suppose this post will be deleted since I disagree with you. Wouldn’t be the first time.

  79. Truzenzuzex

    Well done, Matt. Solid reasoning backed with real facts. That’s not a reason for us to give up hope, but clearly, we have more hope than actual opportunity in some of these games.

    There will be good years, when the rest of the league is down or when Kentucky has a burst of good players. But if we can manage to consistently stay over .500, I would consider it impressive, and it will keep fans coming back for hopes we will break through.

    I made a similar argument to yours focusing on the SEC angle a couple of years ago: It was relatively prophetic, considering that was the year we upset #1 LSU.

    Your points flesh the entire thing out very nicely. Great job.

  80. WildcatNation

    By the way, off the topic a bit …

    but where is that national story about UK basketball?

  81. silverado

    Greatest post I’ve sharply disagreed with, Matt. What has always been missing over the decades since Bear was here is our ability to attract a truly inspirational head coach. it’s no one’s fault. These types of coaches don’t come along every day – and those who might fit this mold want to go to Florida, et. al., just like the players do. But as we build the thing that attracts top coaching and playing talent – a real football TRADITION – our chances are getting better and better.

    My feeling is, if Joker can recruit top-notch coaches/recruiters to join him when he’s promoted, and he maintains and even slightly grows the winning tradition we’ve had recently, then by the time we get around to hiring his successor, we will be in position to be a Top 20 program. I appreciate your “factual” approach and logic, but facts change all the time – and we are changing the “facts” now.

  82. BigBlueFan

    Matt you are 100% wrong. It’s all about the coach. Great players gravitate to great coaches. Simple as that. When we except mediocrity, then we are the losers. You have given up on this program and I’m ashamed to say you are a fellow UK fan.

  83. El_Joe

    Matt, I called you on the live blog and I’m calling you on this now. This is total and complete BS. You and Oscar Combs need to go find yourselves a nice big negativity island and set up camp.

    The problem with your theory is that there aren’t really very many test cases for SEC schools without strong recruiting bases. Who are you basing this on? Vandy? UT? South Carolina? Vandy sucks for totally different reasons that anyone else in the conference. Much as I hate it, UT has as proud of a tradition as just about anybody, but has fallen on some hard times. They’ll probably be back. South Carolina got close to what they were shooting for under Holtz, and just fell back. And I’m not betting against them this year, fwiw.

    There are plenty of programs that, while they didn’t turn in to Southern Cal, are perennial top 25 or thereabouts teams, that have occasional runs into the BCS. West Virginia, Cincinnati, Boise, Rutgers is probably there or close, Missouri, etc. I certainly would love an explanation of what kind of recruiting base Nebraska has.

    If your point is that UK can’t become USC or Florida, I would ALMOST agree with you. Can’t is such a huge word. It is highly unlikely, I admit. But there is no reason that 6-6 and 7-5 couldn’t be 8-4 or 9-3, and occasionally sneak into a 10-2 year. Face it, Matt, we were there in 2007. We were 6-1 and ranked #8 in the country. We lost to Florida next, which probably should have happened. But between attrition, bad luck, and some bad coaching, we then fell apart. If we had beaten MSU as we should have, and taken advantage of an early two score lead and a slumping Georgia offense, and if Lones !@#$ Seiber could make a 35 yard field goal, we’d have been 10-2 and probably around the top 10. We’d have gone to an SEC championship game and rematched with LSU. Then it either would’ve been on to a BCS bowl or more likely something in the Capitol One Bowl realm.

    Rich has done a good job of putting our team into (mostly) competitive games. It’s time to tighten up and win a few more of these. Getting better than Florida or LSU is a Herculean task. But I firmly believe the last three years show that we have an opportunity to become if not a consistent top 10 team at least a usual top 25 team that occasionally makes a visit to the top 10. That is ENTIRELY possible, and your attitude in not recognizing that is foolish.

  84. CatsfaninFL

    #83, I don’t think he said we should accept mediocrity. Most teams would kill to make 3 bowl games in 3 years (much less win them). What he is saying is fans need to cool it a little bit with the sky is falling routine. We’re not at the point yet where we can expect 8-9 wins every year like some schools. That takes time to build when you have the things happening that Matt has talked about here.

    Matt, I’ve also wondered if our complete understanding of basketball recruiting (as UK fans) interfers with our understanding of football recruiting. Getting 3-5 stellar basketball guys a year is much easier than landing 15-20 star football guys a year.

    I don’t think we should temper expectations, but we should definitely have a better understanding of exactly what we are expecting with what we have.

  85. Beauregard Ulysses

    MJ-Love the site and the majority of your posts but I don’t think its too much to ask of Kentucky – Brooks – Joker to be expected to beat Vandy, So. Car, Miss. St., and Arkansas. I don’t think 2-6 in the SEC should garner any kind of bonus or incentive. I agree that expectations of a Top 15 program are high, but I don’t think rationalizing away the expectation that UK not be the doormat and not continue to ride easy street to lower level bowls is unfair. We should be going to the Peach, Cotton, Outback etc with an occasional flirtation with a higher level bowl. You get what you expect and you can always find reasons for lack of success or justifications for mediocrity. Keep making excuses for your beloved Brooks and Joker and they will continue to deliver Music City, Liberty or Independence Bowls.

  86. BigBlueFan

    I’m actually appalled by this post. This is the Tubby mentality and is what caused the basketball program to fall into mediocrity. I’ve lost all respect for your opinion Matt. We need supporters that want this team to be a top 10 team and compete in the SEC, not people who just want us to win 6 games a year. Fans like you are what is holding this football program back. You actually go against what Brooks says. Brooks wants this program to be a great program. Your theory doesn’t hold up with the Basketball program. We only have 3 out 13 players (1 out 5 Freshmen)from Kentucky. That means Kentucky’s basketball recruit base is weak also, therefore our Basketball team should be just mediocre and we should be happy with that, BUT we have a great coach and he has brought in those great recruits from all over the country.

  87. wildcatfan247

    Great post Matt. I argued with some of my family this same point this weekend. Also tried to explain everything that went wrong Saturday wasn’t all because of Hartline even though he did have a bad game. Also wanted to let the world know the biggest goobers in the world post on TCP. I am through with that site except the general discussion board.

  88. bigcatinva

    OK positive proof….this is a basketball site only! Should we expect to be Florida? NO, but we can and should expect to see the top 25 often and occasionally a peek at the top 10 and an occasional BCS.

    One reason we don’t get recruits is fans who buy into this garbage. For goodness sakes, why play the game!

    I, for one, am not down on the team for losing to Florida nor would I be in the next game. To expect us to ALWAYS beat or even compete with the National powers is a little unrealistic, but that’s only two games. We have a shot with Auburn, GA, and UT, and should beat MSU and Vandy. Honestly, who actually picked us to win the Florida game at the beginning of the year.

    I’m upset that you not only jumped on the band wagon of the freak out wagon, but jumped straight into the driver seat of the Debbie Downer group as well….

    My last visit to this joke/poser of a site by the way.

  89. thebigbluelush

    Total garbage post. Interesting argument but garbage nonetheless. UK can win and win big in football. If we get the right attitude and personnel – recruits will come.

  90. Catfan4

    Bigbluefan, should we accept mediocre grammar in your post? Obviously you have. I have such a problem with people who say we accept mediocrity. No, we accept reality. We will have a decent team, but just like Ole Miss or Vandy in B-ball, we just aren’t on the same page with the top notch talent in football. Matt, I loved the post. However, you always seem to talk about how the players read this site, facebook, twitter etc. so I have a question for you. How does the poll about who should be the starting quarterback bring anything positive to the table? I am not saying that it isn’t up for debate, but aren’t you coming dangerously close to being just like the fanatics that post things on social networking sites?

  91. gobigblue32

    I think this is right on. You could go even further and say something about kids wanting to play in warm weather areas when they go out of state. Other than three or four Big Ten and one or two Big East schools, your best players go to SEC, Big 12 (south), and USC. Even lower level Texas schools get crazy talent (location, location, location). Now I don’t see how Boise State does it but you have players spill over. Kids want to play for big programs, close to home, in warm weather.

    Miami is the best way to look at this. Most of their best players came from one area in Florida. Now look at them. I think like 7 or so players on that team were high school teammates. Great writing.

  92. JKW1974


    I think you are pretty much right on with this. I have always told my friends that if we start competing with the LSU/Florida/Alabama programs year in and year out, we are most likely cheating.

    Can we consistently win 7? Can we consistently go to a bowl of some sort? Yes to both.

    But, to think a team in this state can compete for the national championship every year in football is unrealistic. Actually, when compared to the past 20 years or so we should enjoy what we have had and hope to maintain that, with the every once in a while upset……

  93. dhwildcats10

    Matt, I couldn’t have said it better myself and if you look back at my comments following the Miami (OH) game I essentially said what you have written here. UK is at an extreme disadvantage to nearly every program in the SEC and we can’t expect to win 10 games year in and year out. Great post and I’m glad you laid it out there for the fanbase. Some have unreasonable expectations and, to me, that isn’t fair for the program.

  94. phat jones

    THIS is the belief that is behind the calls for a coaching change; it’s been stated several times in this thread, in different ways:

    “If we get the right attitude and personnel – recruits will come.”

    The belief is that it’s just a matter of getting The Right Coach, who will be able to overcome the odds and The Two Huge Obstacles of Kentucky’s talent base and playing in the SEC.

    It can’t be decisively proven that this is not the case, and therefore some will continue to bank on this hope. And those who hold this belief would be willing to change coaches every year or two, if necessary, in order to find The One who is prophesied.

  95. Dribble-Drive High-Five

    As factual as this post may be, it’s this kind of attitude that will get a team blown out in the first quarter. We may not be able to become a team like LSU or Florida, but that doesn’t mean that we should let them come into our house and leave without knowing that UK is an SEC football team. We should be excited that we compete with the best teams in the country every year, and we should welcome it. We should not just roll over and say “Oh well, Florida is just always going to be better than us”.

  96. gobigblue32

    98. I agree. I think people tend to have tunnel vision when they look at this football team. I have always asked for a team that can at least compete and make it at least watchable. We have gone beyond that, which is great. But, wanting more than that may be asking for too much. It isn’t going against the program! It is just being realistic about it all. Some fans see the past three years and think we are going to keep going up. Well it is not that easy with what UK has to work with and against. I think that is Matt’s biggest thing with this. What this coaching staff has done is amazing and we love it. But, wanting more as a fan base, at least so quick, might be even worse on the program. Enjoy this. Enjoy the LSU win. Enjoy the bowl wins. Enjoy being better than Louisville year in, year out. Yes this is a basketball school and that is why our fans are like this about every sport. They have been the best in something and want more of it in football. We are like animals sniffing out more, more, more.

  97. Captain Awesome

    Matt – Hands Down…BEST FOOTBALL POST OF THE YEAR. Analysis is spot on. Well thought out and well written. Brooks and Phillips have been amazing at UK. Haters need to shut it.

  98. UKclam

    I pretty much agree with Matt. I don’t think the football staff should console themselves or make excuses with this line of thought, but UK fans should use it to temper expectations (i.e. calling for Brooks to get fired after losing to the #1 team in the nation).

  99. SWATS

    I have been saying for years exactly what you said Matt. For Kentucky to get better our own talent pool in the state of Kentucky must get better. I now live in Atlanta and the difference in high school football here than back home in Kentucky is NIGHT and DAY.

  100. crazycooter

    100 — You are exactly right. I have always said that is the biggest problem UK Football faces as a program — fan expectations. People who demand 10-win seasons every year always want the coach fired and that derails a program like UK. Those folks almost got Brooks fired in 2005. Since then we have experienced success that has been unparalleled in the modern history of our program. The only other run that was close is the one in the late 70’s (and, IIRC, we cheated to get those players).

    The UK fan who demands 10-win seasons every year is like a nerd who demands a supermodel escort him to his middle school dance. It’s not going to happen and demanding it will only drown them in their own expectations.

  101. dhwildcats10

    For all of those looking at Oklahoma as an example, they are a major beneficiary of Texas. The majority of their elite talent comes from Texas and Norman is only around 150 miles from Dallas (which produces a ton of talent). In Texas you have UT, OU, Okie Lite, LSU, Texas A&M, and TT raiding the state for all the best players. The goal for the really big football schools like Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio State, Michigan, etc. is to fill their roster with guys located close to the school and reel in a couple of national recruits from out of state (like California, Florida or somewhere else).

  102. man-bear-pig

    What is written in the article may very well be factual. I won’t dispute that.

    But… if we fans or the athletic department doesn’t believe it CAN happen then it NEVER will. If we as fans don’t put high expectation on the football program then we will just tread water as the whipping post of the SEC. Look no further than the basketball program. The collective will of the fan base’s high expectations is what has pushed the basketball program to be the winningest of all-time. Can the same be said for the expectations of the football program? Do you see a correlation forming?

    So, instead of lowering the bar or maintaining the status quo right now is, exactly, when we should start expecting more of our football program. There are those who think they can (Florida, Alabama, Tennessee) and those who think they can’t (Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State) and they are both right. Unless we start believing that we can, this program will never change.

  103. crazycooter

    One more thing I haven’t seen mentioned so far: Louisville made it’s living under Petrino by taking partial qualifiers. Uvel was allowed to take partial qualifiers when they were in C-USA. UK is not allowed to take any (SEC Rule). Remember Peanut Whitehead? The ONLY reason he played at Louisville instead of Bama or Auburn is that he couldn’t get fully qualified. Petrino found the loophole and he exploited it by going to Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida and taking guys that were 4-5 star talents but didn’t have the grades to play in the SEC. The end result was Uvel fan saying “we beat Alabama for a 5-star recruit” and Joe-UK-fan taking that at face value.

    By the way, since Uvel joined the Big East they can only take one partial qualifier a year. Surprise, surprise — their talent level has dropped like a rock.

    Louisville was never a top-10 program. They had ONE year where they made a legitimate foray into the top 10 of the rankings. That does not make them a top 10 program. By that measure Kentucky is also a top 10 program (2007).

  104. terwilliger

    Jones, there is a difference between being a top 10-15 program and actually SHOWING UP to play every game. I don’t know ANY Kentucky fans that expect us to be a top 10 or even top 20 program annually. What they do expect is that we don’t get 31 points hung on us at home in the first quarter. Inexcusable and you know it.

  105. asdfasdf

    not one person has had a decent argument back against what matt has said. not ONE.

  106. Dribble-Drive High-Five

    111-because not many people are saying that this isn’t the truth the way things are right now. Just like what 110 is saying, the fans just want a team that wants to come into these games pumped and ready to play up to their ability. Saturday, that did not happened. What’s more embarassing than getting killed in the first quarter? Watching your team acting scared.

  107. crazycooter

    108 — Expectations are fine, but they have to be realistic. The average guy who only wants to date the most beautiful girls will always be lonely.

  108. dhwildcats10

    111. Agreed, I think he’s spot on.

  109. crazycooter

    110 — Could you point out the part of the article where Jones said the performance Saturday was acceptable? I seem to recall him saying just the opposite.

    Also, the fact that you claim no UK fans think we should be a top 20 program tells me you haven’t been paying attention. There are several such fans posting in this very thread.

    Epic fail.

  110. 783CATS

    Oh Matt… Ye of so little faith!
    I guess we should just quit…?

    Please remember–All things are possible for him who BELIEVES!!!
    Well, I believe–perhaps you are all just smarter than me & think that I am just naive–which is fine with me…

    GO BIG BLUE!!!

  111. terwilliger

    cooter learn to read. I didn’t “claim” there are no UK fans like that. I said I DONT KNOW any. Also, the whole point of my post is that it’s odd timing for Jones to come out with this little rant right after the Florida game, where we got utterly embarrassed. Again, losing is one thing — getting embarrassed over and over again is another. Losing streaks of 20+ games two 2 different teams is unacceptable. Whether Matt wants to talk about it or not, THAT is the issue here. 1-24 against east teams other than Vandy is the issue here. Not being a “top 10 or 15 program”. If Jones truly thinks that is the issue than he is listening to a small minority of very delusional fans rather than addressing the LEGITIMATE CONCERNS of most of us.

  112. 42

    I agree Jones. UK has it really tough when it comes to recruiting. For example, in basketball, we took Daniel Orton out of Oklahoma. It would take a miracle to lure a big time football recruit out of Oklahoma, and I don’t think hiring a “big name” coach is going to change that any time soon. If we are supposed to lure big name recruits from out of state, where on earth are they going to come from? Sure, it might happen occasionally, but I don’t see it happening with any consistency. It sucks, but at this point, it’s true.

  113. Indycatfan

    I’ve always thought in order to play with the big boys you have to be 1 of 2 things…#1 is to be a big boy. #2 be faster and a little more athletic than the big boy. We had a HORRIBLE game Saturday, but other than the first quarter we got beat by 3 points. I was proud of the way the guys played and if we could get the kinks out before next Saturday I feel we have a great chance of an upset…..GO CATS

  114. Tavin_Dillard

    Best non-Gidel football post EVER on this site. I’m so tired of hearing these idiots call in to the shows and tell the world that Morgan Newton needs to be playing or (this was gold yesterday) that Will Fidler needs to be starting. I know rationale is thrown out the window during basketball season, but I always liked the fact that football fans carried a little bit extra in their back pocket. Why would you call for Rich Brooks’ head after losing to what is arguably the greatest college football dynasty of the last 20-30 years? Why would you blast the greatest UK Football coach since Bear F-in Bryant for not winning against a team that has an advantage over us in every category? We’re 2-1 after the first game of the toughest four game stretch we’ve had in years. I wish UK fans that were predominately basketball fans would take a vow of silence on all things football. Because they just don’t get it!!!

  115. CAnTuckeeBoi

    Can we atleast be as successful as Boise St, Utah, BYU, and West Virginia? I would think that Kentucky has just as large of talent pool as Idaho, Utah, and West Virginia……

    I mean Oklahoma recruits off of tradition and location to Texas, the talent pool in Oklahoma is not among the top in the nation. The same can be said for South Carolina, they recruit off of Coaching Prestige and location to Georgia and Florida. Bring Urban Meyer into KY and I guarantee we become a top 10 program recruiting off of tradition and coaching prestige.

    This is a bad argument, if anything I think it is the opposite in most situations. I mean look at Ohio and Michigan two states relative to Kentucky in location and size. Their High School programs are so successful because kids grow up wanting to play football for their favorite schools. You just dont get good at sports because you are born in a state, you have to have a desire to want to be good, and most of the successful schools built successful programs, and therefore have developed a ton of instate talent that want to play for them.

    Look at some of the kids from Kentucky we have missed out on over the years, mainly because of a bad program: Sean Alexander!!!!, Brandon Deadrick, Chris Todd v. Mike Hartline, Luke Stocker, chris barclay, Justin Miller, and thats just a few of them……

  116. BigBlueFan

    #95 What was wrong with my grammar?

  117. believeblue

    We have to face the fact that we are not a football state. My county doesnt even have a football program. Sad, but true like many other counties across the state there are alot of very talented athletes that could be great football players, but they just don’t have the oppurtunity. You think Florida or Alabama has alot of places that don’t have football programs. We just don’t have the amount of in state talent to choose from. Until we get as excited about football in Ky as we do basketball I’m afraid Matt is spot on.

  118. Tavin_Dillard

    121) No we can’t be as successful as those teams because those teams play EASIER schedules!!! We can be more talented than those teams, but they’ll almost always have more wins than us because they play Vanderbilt and Mississippi State talent equivalent teams 9 to 10 times a year. Why is this so hard for people??!! Bring Urban Meyer into KY? Why the f*&^ would he come to Kentucky? Seriously, what could we offer him that he’s not getting in Florida? It’s not money! It’s not facilities! This isn’t the basketball team! This isn’t basketball! It doesn’t work the same way.

  119. dailyminefield

    Read this article if you want to know how hard it is to recruit in Kentucky

  120. dailyminefield

    A Top 10 program consistently is not going to happen in Kentucky. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but you have to gain respect consistently to do it. It will be 15-20 year project to accomplish this. If it happens it will be because we get lucky and find a Joe Pa or Bobby Bowden type coach that likes it here, wants to stay, and kids want to play for. I don’t see it happening.

  121. BigBlueFan

    If Kentucky is bad because of their poor recruiting geographic spot, why was Louisville a top 20 team for those few years? Coaching staff……

  122. JohnB

    I agree with most of what you say, so why the big buildup every year? Why the reality check now
    instead of in August?
    You give a lot of reasons for not being a Kentucky fan. Just sit back and suffer. You don’t have
    to be a masochist to be a UK fan, but it helps. Right?

  123. crazycooter

    117 — My reading comprehension is exemplary. You made a bad post and you got called on it. Now you are trying to play semantics games to back away from it like some kind of coffee house lawyer. Your contention that you don’t “know any fans” of that ilk was obviously offered to prove that no such fans exist, or, in the least very few such fans exist. You were attempting to marginalize Jones’ argument. You failed. Many posts in this very thread confirm that.

    On a side note, I find it comical that you would question my reading comprehension when you were the one who thought Jones was defending Saturday’s performance.

  124. jaxcat1

    The team was not mentally prepared to play the game- it was obvivous to all who saw the game. UK could have saved everyone a lot of trouble and uf some gas money by just giving them the victory without playing the game. That is what I was so disappointed about. If they had played with a little heart, no one is saying they should be a top ten program, just play with a little heart.

  125. Tavin_Dillard

    128) Are you seriously asking that question? Is there nothing about Louisville’s performance in years prior to that season and subsequent years after that suggests to you that may have been a “flash in the pan” season? It was a perfect storm. In-state recruits that will NEVER be duplicated. Moreover, in-state recruits that will NEVER stay in-state again. Once in a program. A Big East schedule that has no business even being compared to the SEC. “Marquee” wins over Florida State and Miami programs that were at the beginning of an obvious downward spiral. A rebuilding in-state rival they could beat up on. An Orange Bowl victory over most likely the WORST BCS bowl team of the BCS era. And a gimmicky schedule that allowed them to play on every day of the week EXCEPT Saturday and be the nationally televised game. And a coach with questionable character who surrounded himself with questionable characters. And now what are they left with? Would you trade a consistently good team for a few great years in the top 20 and an eventual implosion back into mediocrity (please say no, please say no)?

  126. mattearley

    Nice post Sr. Jones. However, there is an important piece that was not addressed and it is not a result of the conference the Cats play in or the talent pool in the state, IMHO.

    To me, there is no reason that the Cats should lose 25 straight to UT or 8 straight to S Carolina. And even though UF is heads above UK year in and out, 24 straight is simply bizarre. These streaks defy the law of averages and are some of the longest in the country. We need look back only as far as ’07 to find a Cat team that had more talent than UT and SC.

    This is a psychological/cultural issue. Papa Brooks has been able to accomplish a lot a UK– and I think that deserves props. But until the players themselves believe they belong on the same field as these teams, 5 or 6 in the East will be their fate. This is something that can and must be changed if the Cats are going to take the next step up the ladder.

  127. Big Blue Cali-Zone

    Sorry Matt, but I just don’t agree with your reasoning. I understand it, but I don’t agree with it, at least not in full. Although I fully appreciate what coach Brooks has done since he came(which is improve the program), I still think it takes someone with “Star Power” to change our ability to get top recruits. Sorry Joker, but I don’t see a huge change when you take the wheel. Say what you want, the first quarter of the Florida game had little to do with talent. Even mediocre players should be able to execute basic plays without rediculous penelties everytime you turn around. I was glad to hear coach say yesterday, however, that the stupid number of audibles would stop. We audible at the line more than any team I ever remember watching, and seldon execute the play properly. I think any BCS schook, with good funding(which we have), top notch facilites and resources(which we have)and national aclaim as a school(which we have)should be able to run a top tier program. Just my opinion.

  128. Tavin_Dillard

    134) The win over Louisville this year, the tackle against MTSU last year, and our performances against LSU and Louisville in 2007 are evidence that a psychological and cultural change have already occurred in our program because those are all games we lose prior to 2006. I will agree that the play-calling is definitely questionable but we have to be happy with what we have as far coaching staffs go. You think Auburn thought they could get a star to replace Tuberville? And they got Gene Chizik from Iowa State. And granted, he’s done an amazing job thus far heading into UT this weekend. But don’t think coaches are itching to come into the SEC and take over a program other than Bama, Florida, and LSU. They know how tough it is. And they know a Top 20 recruiting class only gets you “whooped” by a couple Top 10 recruiting classes within your own division.

  129. ukgrad83

    Totally disagree with this post. The argument is flawed. Why did Kentucky land the #1 recruiting class in basketball? Is it geography? Is it because Kentucky has great instate talent? No. Kids go to programs they perceive will do well and will allow them to showcase their talents and potentially reach the next level. Great coaches win (or at least compete) with mediocre talent, which results in being able to attract better talent.

    Why should we limit ourselves to thinking we’ll never have a program that can COMPETE in the SEC East? If that’s true, let’s jump to the Big East or ACC. Heck, those conferences have better basketball programs and weaker football programs so let’s go there. Sorry, I don’t want that nor do I believe we should settle for a football program that considers 6-6 a success. With that mentality we’ll always be saying “just wait’ll next year, we’ll get ’em then”. We’ve been waiting 20+ years to get Tennessee and Florida and I don’t expect that will change any time soon.

  130. Tavin_Dillard

    FOOTBALL IS NOT BASKETBALL!!!! If a kid gets homesick in basketball he sticks out because there’s only 11 or so other kids around him. If a kid gets homesick in football no one notices until he either transfers or quits. You’re not individually pampered in football like you are basketball because it’s not as much of an individual sport. Hell, you wear a mask in football!! Making these comparisons to how easy it is in basketball is ridiculous.

  131. crazycooter

    137 — Did you read the part about how football and basketball recruiting are completely different animals?

  132. crazycooter

    128 — See posts 109, 132, and 133.

  133. mattearley


    I do not suggest a coaching change– I am happy with Papa and Joker. I do believe that there is still a ways to go to get the players to BELIEVE week in and week out that they can beat the teams in the SEC East that have given us fits. Saturday’s first quarter says it all.

    Anyone know a good sports psychologist?

  134. ukjosh25

    too all who think its not possible – 2 word… OLE’ MISS. what happened to them last year- one year with a new coach? dare i say????? top ten? bcs bowl? enough said

  135. BigBlueBubba

    I agree with post 137. I would also like to add though that the quality of your head coach and coaching staff is directly linked to the success of the program. Take Florida for example they’ve always have had the most talent in college football but when Ron Zook took over they took a progression downwards 8-5(2002), 8-5 (2003) & 7-4 (2004). Urban Meyer takes over and two years later they are National Champions.

    Kentucky may not have a a large pool of instate recruits but you also have to realize that Kentucky borders seven different states and should be able to draw recuits from those surrounding areas. Brooks and his staff have done a great job of lifting this program back on solid ground and they deserve a lot of credit for that but to say that Kentucky does not have a chance of ever being a consistant top 15 program is crazy. You flip flop Urban Meyer for Rich Brooks and I think the fortunes for UK and UF go in the opposite direction. Great head coaches equal great success.

    I would also like to add that the notion that this just a BASTKETBALL school is HOGWASH. There is no reason why UK cannot succeed in both sports. The support is there from the fans.

  136. cal_fanatic

    Matt, although I disagree with most of the blasters on here, I can see their side. Although Basketball is our forte here in the Bluegrass State, there is no reason that football can’t be our #2. I LOVE what Rich Brooks and Joker Phillips have done with our program, and if you don’t like it, well then you just have too high of expectations. Look at what they’ve brought us out of. Turmoil. It seems like 3 straight mediocre bowls have drilled into people’s minds as a National Championship, when in fact they’re far from it. I’m very proud of what our Cats have been doing the past four years and eagerly look to future success.

    One last note- I was at the Florida game, and yes, I was pissed off. Not at the coaches, just at the ignorance of which we were playing. I know Florida is a crap ton faster than us, but on the offensive end we just looked like placeholders so Tebow & Co. could get a rest on the sidelines.

  137. ukgrad83

    139 – Yes I did but I don’t agree with the premise. WHY is location irrelevant to basketball players but relevant to football players? Kentucky has basketball tradition and now has a coach who teaches an exciting style of basketball and is able to develop kids to play at the next level. But even though we aren’t in a talent laden area he GETS top recruits. Why can’t a football coach do the same?

    I’m not saying we can be a top-10 team every year, I’m just looking for someone who is going to field a team that will be competitive and not look like a high school team 3 games into the season. That is unacceptable.

    138 – Disagree with your argument too. Derrick Jasper got “homesick” and he still ended up more than 300 miles from home. Plus, basketball players are no more pampered than football players. They all receive better treatment than the average college student.

  138. ccinnamon10

    You have a valid point in this article, and i for one dont ever expect UK football to be a top 15 program. Never have, especially year in and year out. I have just grown to expect that out of UK football.

    However, how can anyone say its “not possible”? The facilities compete with ANYONE in the country, the area has low crime rate and is really a beautiful place to live. The weather is above average, and it is good overall school. Only thing UK has working against them is tradition, and lack of a big name coach (no disrespect to Coach Brooks, he has done a wonderful job, and if he stays here for 10 more years i would be fine with it). However, to take it to the next level UK would have to offer a big name coach (John Gruden) a competitive salary with UK bball, not sure if they would do that.

  139. soup

    I don’t know ANY recruit in the nation that wouldn’t want to come to UK and learn to run the bubble screen.

  140. ccinnamon10

    147… falls back to coaching, it all starts with the coach

  141. sidsel_roine

    MJ, one of the best posts I’ve read on KSR. Even handed, realistic analysis backed up with facts. Sports media could use more people like you. Keep up the good work.

  142. wildcatfan247

    142 This has been said several times, anyone can be ranked in the top ten in a given year. We were ranked 7th just two years ago. Are you saying that if you were ranking the top ten programs that Ole Miss would be one.

    Ohio State
    Penn State
    USC are the same as Ole Miss?

  143. crazycooter

    145 — It’s not that difficult to convince 4 or 5 guys per year to move a little farther from home to play for one of the premier programs in college basketball. The best ones only plan to stay there for a year anyway. Get 4 or 5 top guys a year in basketball and you win on a grand scale.

    With football it’s much more difficult. First, players know they will have to spend at least three years in college. So, being closer to home makes things much easier. Second, there is no reason for a top football recruit to leave home when he can stay home and play for a premier program. Why come to Kentucky and hope you can win and get exposure when you can stay home and definitely win and get exposure. Most importantly, even if you can wrestle 4 or 5 recruits away from their home state schools, that’s nowhere near enough to significantly change the level of your football program. It would require at least three times that number to even get into the middle of the pack in the SEC.

  144. crazycooter

    150 — I would also add that Mississippi is a talent rich state. Jones clearly pointed that out.

  145. crazycooter

    145 — You hit on one more thing that I forgot to address. You are right that prospects come to Cal because they hope to make it to the NBA and they think Cal can help. Both the school and the coach have proven they can put players in the NBA.

    OTOH, the football program has never proven anything. Bringing in a “name” coach might help some. But, again, Florida, Bama, and Georgia all have name coaches and they have proven they can put guys in the NFL from the programs they work for right now. Suppose Kentucky hires the next Urban Meyer. Again, why come to Kentucky and hope “Urban Meyer X” can get you to the pros, when you can stay home and know for a fact the real Urban Meyer can get you to the pros?

  146. buddylove

    Well if we can’t be top ten can we be a little better please

  147. ukgrad83

    153 – You are right, the football program has never been elite but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aspire to that and try to find the next Urban Meyer. My contention is that IF we get a coach like that, we could compete quickly and provided the coach stuck around, we could attract better recruits and perhaps build a top-10 program. Where did Urban Meyer start his head coaching career? Where was he before he went to Florida? He WON games and built very successful programs in the talent poor states and tradition-less programs where he was located.

    I did NOT like the hire of Coach Brooks initially. I DO like it (and him) very much now. They have done MUCH with a little. I just don’t think the current staff can take the team to a higher level given the issues we see early in the season every year. They are not prepared to compete as they should be. That’s a coaching issue.

  148. Indycatfan

    I might get blasted for this but back when UK hired Papa Brooks, I hadn’t even heard of the guy muchless give him any confidence in leading the Cats back from probation. IN the last three seasons we has been to three “STRAIGHT” bowl games…not to mention “WINNING” all three bowl games with the last one being on New Years day. Now, I’m not saying he nor Joker walks on water, but I’ll tell you this I’m pretty damn proud as to what he’s done with bringing the Cats back to at least we ARE going to bowl games. How many SEC teams went to a bowl last year? 6 or 7? OK How many won their Bowl game?4..5? A lot of you folks claim the guys on the teams reads KSR, is this the way for them to get the confidence to go out and win those games when even the fans base are saying they just cannot compete in the SEC? Noone knocks the damn ball out of the park everytime they get to bat, as I said in an earlier post after the first quarter Fla. only beat us by 3. Hell UF could possibly beat a few of the teams in the lower ranks in the NFL. Don’t judge this team by the third game, the whole F*&King season is still in front of us. Give credit where credit is due and let Papa Mater do his thing….We’re still going to make some noise this year. And we’re going to upset a few along the way…I’ll get off my soapbox now thank you!..GO CATS!!!!!!!!

  149. secretagent0014

    I am glad we went to a straight bowl instead of one them gay bowl games.

  150. ukgrad83

    Sorry 156 but the whole f*’ing season is not in front of us. One fourth of it is gone. Yes, the Cats are 2-1 but there is a lot of work to be done if this team is going to make it 4 bowls in a row.

  151. crazycooter

    155 — The question presented is not whether we can get better. We can obviously get marginally better in certain areas. The question is whether UK can become a top-10 program.

    Urban Meyer had success at Bowling Green and Utah. He didn’t turn either one into a top 10 program. Similarly, Urban Meyer would have had success at UK, but he would not have been able to turn UK into a top-10 program.

  152. njcat54

    Come on folks… I doubt many of the fans complaining after Saturday’s game really have an expectation that UK be a top 10 football program. What they were/are unhappy about is that we were EMBARRASED on national TV… AGAIN. IMHO Brooks has done an “adequate” job given the fan support and fantastic facilities. I seem to recall that the two coaches that preceeded him fielded teams that were ALSO very competitive.

    And don’t tell me kids won’t leave home to play for a good program – one of the posters above presented stats that showed MOST programs have more players from out of state than in state. Only exception is major schools in Ohio, Florida, Texas and California. And I don’t have the data, but doesn’t it seems that most of the best HS players in KY end up leaving the state?

    I would rate Brooks a solid “C”. Last year we SQUEEKED into one of the lowest rated bowl games and we were extremely fortunate to have pulled out two of our six wins. If it was 10 years ago before they vastly increased the number of bowl games, we’d have been sitting home watching at the end of the year. For goodness sake, we couldn’t even beat Vandy – a school that has a TRUE recruiting handicap with its high academic standards. As soon as our SEC record starts approaching .500, we will have truly made progress. Our “little sisters of the poor” non-conference schedule (teams we still stuggle against at times) screem a lack of confidence.

    I went to UK in the mid seventies when we DID have a competitive team. We don’t have one now, and won’t until we get a name coach that has the charisma and energy (like Cal) to really build the program. West Virginia, Utah (w/ Meyer), Boise State and now UC are all examples of what can happen to a mediocre program with the right coach. MP is just making excuses for Brooks because he respects him as a man – which most of us do. IMHO, Brooks is nothing more than a caretaker and Joker is completely unproven (in fact I’d say the offense has been pretty poor under his leadership the past two years.) My fear is that he is a very good #2 guy – much like Leonard Hamilton was in bball – and we’re in for another 15 years of mediocrity. Hope I’m wrong, but that’s the way it looks to me.

    I actually like the Gruden idea.

  153. Burly

    Everything is about Coaching…get the right system Coach that has energy the program will get better. Ray, Claiborne, Curry, Morris and Brooks are as boring and as bland as can be.

    We must find a charismatic innovative Coach. CM Newton had the right idea with Mumme…just the wrong guy.

  154. ukgrad83

    159 – C’mon now.. Urban Meyer was at Utah for two seasons. He went 10-2 and 12-0. They were a top 5 team after the second season. Had he stayed there, they would have been a top 10 program. But, he knew they would have a hard time competing for a national title since they weren’t in a BCS conference. I would argue that he could have made them, or Kentucky, a top 10 program if he were to be there more than a couple of years. What’s your requirement for a top 10 program?

  155. catfan_76

    Well Well Well,,, Once again Matt looks like the Nut he is.Let me start by saying nobody hates Mike Hartline. We would just like the see a Steve Spurrier type move on the field take his ass out if he’s not performing. Same goes for any position. God knows I am not a coach but I am an explayer of the game and while I played I wanted to know all I could learn.I am not going into all the long if’s and but’s. What I am going to do is say how I feel. Yeah we lost “A” game the seasons not over 11 wins is still posiable.not saying its a definate just a posability. It was bad to lose like we did but no one was hurt really bad and we have the next game to look forward to. As for the recruting I also grew up in southeastern Ky and Iv seen many of the guys on my teams as well as teams we played against get looked over by UK coaches and as much as I like Brooks its still happening. The kicker from bell co. Need I say more. Matt get your head out of your ass and smell the fresh air its actually pretty nice out here in the real world. This football team is like a T-bone steak and the fans are true Wildcats dangle that steak long enough and the wildcats are gona get what they want. Well 3 bowl games latter and many of us fans want more so Matt take your Football blasphemy and jump on that duke ban waggon you came from Just remember one thing take the UK out of duke and you have DE yeah sounds retarded to me to. thanks for reading and Please stand up for Our football I am tired of being the laughing stock of the sec….

  156. Indycatfan

    By the way, where did that kicker from Bell county go to?

  157. crazycooter

    162 — It has been pointed out at least a dozen times already in this thread, but being ranked in the top 10 doesn’t make it a top 10 program. That is especially true for non-BCS teams who inflate their rankings by playing weaker competition and, thus, losing infrequently (for all practical purposes, you move up in the football polls as long as you don’t lose regardless of who you play).

    There is no finite definition of a “top 10 program,” but if you really think there weren’t ten programs in America better than Utah when Meyer left, then there’s really no point in discussing this further. Heck, there’s no point in discussing it if you think anybody could make Utah better than Florida, Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Southern Cal, Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Michigan, Miami, or Virginia Tech on a regular basis. Utah might be able to beat any of them in a one game setting. Then again, UK has done just that (LSU ’07). That doesn’t make either one better as a program.

  158. ukgrad83

    165 – My point about Utah is that it was a tradition-less program in a talent poor area and yet with Urban Meyer they went undefeated. Had he stayed, you don’t think Utah would ever be considered a top program? That’s why I asked you for your definition. It sounds to me like you have a list that can never change – but let’s not leave out Notre Dame or FSU. Are they a top 10 program? Do you have to win national championships to be top 10? Florida and LSU are recent newcomers. Heck, Ole Miss has 3 national championships but no one considers them top 10.

    Whether UK is ever a top 10 “program” isn’t what I care about anyway. I want a program that at least has a chance to play in a BCS bowl game once every 4 or 5 years and can be competitive within their own division in the SEC. I think it can happen with the right coaching staff at any school but I seem to be a minority in that opinion.