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Kirk Herbstreit: UK Football is “like an appetizer before the real thing starts”


Kirk Herbstreit has been a big supporter of UK Football in recent years. Last season, the “College Gameday” cohost picked the Cats to make some major noise, going as far in early November to say UK had a legitimate chance to make the SEC Championship game. Now, of course, that didn’t happen, but Herbie is definitely a Kentucky — and Mark Stoops — fan. That’s why today’s comments from him are a little puzzling. According to the Courier-Journal’s Danielle Lerner, Herbstreit said UK Football is “like an appetizer before the real thing starts,” the real thing being UK Basketball.

This comment will definitely upset the hardcore UK Football folks who have spent their lives complaining that the gridiron is second fiddle to the hardwood (“Did you know they only gave Bear Bryant a watch and Adolph Rupp a Cadillac??”), but after the past few seasons, that comment feels like a slap in the face to all the progress Stoops has made. Traditionally, most UK fans are basketball-first, but there’s no denying the excitement surrounding the football program right now. Be honest with yourself: last year, did any UK sports moment give you as much joy as when Lamar fumbled and the Cats upset the Cards at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium? I can’t think of one.

Or, conversely, is Herbstreit right in that no matter how good UK Football gets, it will never be enough to compete with UK Basketball in fans’ hearts?

Let’s be real and let it all out in the comments.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

50 responses to “Kirk Herbstreit: UK Football is “like an appetizer before the real thing starts””

  1. RackEmWillie

    UK football could go 15-0 while UK basketball was preparing for a second round of Billy G, and only then would the excitement be equal.

    But, as long as there is even the least little bit of hype around the basketball team, they’ll always be the primary focus. I’m sure the basketball team at somewhere like Alabama feels the same way.

    Simply, if a program is one of the “blue bloods” in either football or basketball, the other sport was always be 2nd. Doesn’t matter what sport, what the current moods or feelings about either sport are, and it doesn’t matter what school it is. That’s life.

    1. BCO

      See I dont think so. If UK football went 15-0 and won the title, I think there’d be more excitement unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Theres no denying our fanbase is huge and global. A few years of football dominance would create a buzz among it that would be unprecedented.

    2. Yoda

      BCO, I don’t agree. Native son of Kentucky, have lived all over the East Coast, and anytime I meet another member of BBN the conversation has always centered on Men’s Basketball. This includes the Lorenzen years, Woodson years, Cobb years, etc. Our basketball team would have to sink to sub-Indiana levels of relevance for a decade or longer for football to catch up.

  2. memphis

    I don’t have a problem with it. Basketball has had decades worth of more success than football. They have earned the right to be number 1. It would take years of winning by UK football and years of losing by UK basketball to flip the fanbase. Even then, I think the best UK football can achieve would be being 1A.

    Case in point, look at this week’s news about Jarren Williams. There were plenty of people on Twitter going after Matt for getting their hopes up that the breaking news was about Mo Bamba. There’s plenty of football ahead of us but many UK fans are only looking toward the start of basketball season.

  3. Realme

    That’s just a thing that media that don’t know what they’re talking about say. Anyone around UK can see how fb has a very strong following of its’ own. Even when they suck it’s a legit fan base.

  4. JC3

    I do not like this post. I love Tyler, she is my favorite but I wish she would not have framed the Post the way it is. UK football and basketball do not compete for fan loyalty. Most probably enjoy both about equally it just the football program until recently has not been competitive like our basketball program. Recruits need to know most UK football fans appreciate our team very much. I do not think it helps UK football that there is a perception that UK is little brother to other sports. UK football has many, many strong fans and I do not feel the UK football is the appetizer to anybody or any thing else. Thank you Coach Stoops/ALL the Coaches and Every player for what you do everyday for our program. Go cats!

  5. abgunz

    Better yet, let it out on twitter at kirkherbstreit.

  6. ksr_commenter

    I mean he’s not wrong..

  7. ukwildcat2323

    I mean duhhh, you seriously had to ask this? SMH Of course all other UK sports combined couldn’t ever compete with basketball. Doesn’t mean we don’t support them or like them. Plus stoops hasn’t even made our football team relevant yet. The only thing he’s done so far is recruit. Time to perform on the field. Fully support him though!

  8. Shagaris Sock Puppet

    I wouldnt look so far into it to say that you have to pick one or the other. The guy calls it like it is! Yes there are a ton of loyal football fans, BUT basketball is the beast here, and nationally no other fan base is really concerned about UK football. However, if UK basketball comes on TV, other fans teams will watch just as a lover of good basketball. He makes a point and I think you have to look at it with the glass half full, as a fan we get the luxury of watching a football team grow before our eyes, then you have the full course meal that you know will fill you up in basketball, just waiting to be destroyed by a hungry belly.

  9. ukkatzfan

    Football at UK is about to take over though. Football players are here 3 years minimum. Regular season basketball and SEC tourney are to the point they don’t even matter anymore. And all of the big games are being played away in the big cities. With only 12 games in football, they all count. Only 2 places the games are played…. either at “the K” or away. If away, the big ones are in a SEC city or the ville. All of which are closer than Brooklyn and Vegas. When it comes to the BIG travel games in football it is for the bowl game(that counts) and not for a NC game in Vegas that we would have been better off losing in Nov or Dec.

  10. Bluebloodtoo

    I think that UK fans will be happy to support UK football, and many hardcore FB fans will be very happy to have a competitive team.

    I think it’s going to be very difficult for UK FB to take the spotlight from the fans because UK BB has so much history. FB would need to be consistently great for a several years to get the loyalty that BB has right now, and there is nothing wrong with that. BB has earned that loyalty and FB is “just getting started”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ecstatic to see our FB team becoming more competitive, but it would be foolish to think that it’s going to overtake BB in a few seasons.

  11. hal9944

    Im a UK fan period, no matter the sport they are playing! If youre not, then you’re just a bandwagon fan anyway!

    1. Bluebloodtoo

      Great sentiment to be a fan of UK, no matter the sport; I like that. The other comment is just plain wrong.

  12. wilsonhamp3

    I like Kentucky Football just as much as much as Kentucky basketball, and I bet I could say that for many fans. Kentucky no doubt has the best fan base in the nation and our football team is on the rise and will be playing for many SEC East titles in the future. This makes me not like Kirk as much as I used to.

  13. jstrunk

    In my opinion I feel that UK fans are hungry for a competitive football team. If they ever had a taste of “elite” football it would be over! I think we have settled for mediocrity with an occasional teaser of better days. Point being, BBN is like no other, football would not take a backseat to anyone if we could ever get over the hump…and I believe Stoops is doing his best to get us there.

  14. BigBlueFever

    I, personally, am more excited for football season than basketball. With each year of improvement under Stoops, Marrow, Thomas, etc. and the new “none and done’s” (Diallo) on the basketball side I find myself becoming more of a football fan and less of a basketball fan.

  15. Sentient Third Eye

    Kentucky’s football fans are as dedicated as most schools’ (all except really extreme football fanbases like Alabama or Auburn). It’s just that basketball has such a zealous following that it makes football fandom look lesser by comparison. But beside UK basketball, any football fan base would appear lesser, except maybe Alabama.

  16. 8xchamp

    Before last year he was correct, but we don’t need need herbie to ride the wave of success stoops is about to bring in football.

  17. RickE

    I agree w/ Hal9944.

  18. Mathlete

    As it stands right now today, basketball operates at a different level than everyone else in the NCAA while football is emerging as a potential, but very nascent competitor for the first time in decades. It’s controversial among the homer crowd but basically accurate

  19. highway119

    I want all UK programs to succeed, but if I could only see one do well, I’d take football over basketball all day, every day and twice on Sundays! I think there are more UK fans that feel the same way than many people in the media, or in the public perception of our fanbase, realize.

  20. bsimpson88

    I’m on board with fans that are UK fans – period. If the underwater table tennis team in playing for a national title, then I will watch it, if possible, and support it. My family (and friends that I have, one of which is VERY high in the UK administration all agree) are beginning to prefer the Football CATS to the Basketball CATS as far as our preferred sport to watch. Yes, we still watch basketball a lot, but the one and done is bringing in loads of talent – and yes they are very good – but to watch it sort of fizzle out when it counts the most and not bring home the title makes us want to see more 2-3 year guys come in, contribute and develop the team. Sentiment seems to be while UK is good year after year in basketball, there’s just a feeling that not sure an extremely talented group of freshman is worth more than juniors and seniors that have been around that may be less talented. The building of the football program right now for some is outweighing the constant rebuilding done each year in basketball.

    1. Eazy

      Fizzle out when it counts?! lol. Cal has been here for 8 years and had 4 final fours and 1 title. That’s the second most titles and the most final fours. Name another school who’s been more successful with upperclassmen? You can’t. UNC has 2 final fours and 1 title employing your method. Same with UL. So we have had more success than the teams with 2-3 year guys. So has Duke. The top programs all have copied UK at this point. Even UNC, Nova, UL, etc recruit a bunch of one and dones.

    2. Eazy

      Also, we used your method with Tubby and BCG. I’ll take Cal all day. UK has had way more success with elite talent than we did with upperclassmen. Talk about fizzling out…I loved Tubbys 02-03-04-05 teams but they never even made a final four. Tubby had 1 final four and 1 title. It would be ignorant to return to that.

  21. CatstopWontstop

    “All the progress…”

    Kentucky has had good recruiting classes (for Kentucky), and has made one bowl game (which they lost) on the back of a very weak schedule. The football team is better and I’m excited to see what they can do this year, to build off the only great win of the Stoops era (Louisville) but let’s temper our evaluations of the programs “progress.”

  22. runningunnin.454

    Not really upset about his comment; and he has been supportive in the past. You’re right about the UL game; I still smile when I remember…..41-38.

  23. ClutchCargo

    What he is saying has more to do with the UK fanbase than the sports teams, and he’s right. It just hurts to hear it from a well-respected outsider. But winning cures everything, so I think the support will follow the on the field success.

  24. 3dcatfan

    Name CWS whatever you’d like JMI however Rupp’s off limits! Right Mitch? SMH Unfortunately Herbstreit’s right.

  25. Yandell

    I was at the event today. That comment has been taken way out of context. Kirk was merely referring to the historic differences in the programs as they have related to the school. Since the university has long been considered a ‘basketball school’, football has long been thought of (possibly outside the fan base, but maybe by some true fans) as the “appetizer”. He also acknowledged (I believe) that sentiment is changing somewhat and that coach Stoops has done a great job. The Curious Journal is just trying to stir something up. Nothing there.

  26. Rick_S

    What’s wrong with what he said?? It’s 100% the truth and i agree

  27. Rick_S

    You FB fans don’t like it…win something or beat UT & UF

  28. 2thepoint

    I think Kirk is right and I take no offense to his statements, Basketball is king and deserves the high position they sit upon. But, if football continues to improve football will be the talk. Football is king in KY at the high school level right now and has been for a number of years dating back into the 80’s after a push was made to make football #1 in KY. We see the results of the push now.

    I press my point with the fact we see no great basketball talent that creates a buzz statewide or nationally year after year. BCG was offering in-state guys that were Div II talent. In football, though, there are several top football prospects every year. Many of them leave the state because of better football programs outside the state. I am hoping Stoops continues to improve the program to the point UK is in the discussion for division or conference champs.

    We have room for both to be nationally prominent.

    1. BLUEsky

      “We have room for both to be nationally prominent”

      I’m going to ignore every knuckle-headed comment on this thread and just agree with your last sentence quoted above.

      But, for the record, those who do not see the progress the FB program is making should remove their blinders please.

      Also, can we forget about the past and move forward? Glass half full guys. Remember the old saying that “Rome wasn’t built in a day?”

    2. BLUEsky

      Last thing since I’m all worked up now. I used to be all in on Basketball, and couldn’t care less about FB. That was then. I started keeping up with FB during the Curry years. I attended my first football game and watched Tim Couch vs. Peyton Manning (I think–been too long). I was hooked after that.

      I’ve just purchased my first season tickets this year, if that tells you anything about how I feel about the direction the FB program is heading. This being said, I love UK basketball, and always will. So, I say support both and stop all this nonsense about which sport is King at UK. Rant over.

    3. Eazy

      I agree football had surpassed basketball at the youth level. I disagree that it’s the best, though. Kentucky is a baseball state at its core. We produce more baseball players than any sport. It’s starting to pay off at UL and UK. And the second best player in the country is at Ballard now. Kentucky consistently produce 5 star baseball players. That can’t be said about basketball or football.

  29. LeitchfieldAlex

    Well Kirk has it right for now. But the football just doesn’t have the era behind it like bball. If things go the way Stoops has it right now maybe someday our football will compete with bball but will never be what bball is at UK. Too much legend to make up. Let’s enjoy the moment NOW!!! Go BLUE!!

  30. Oldone

    Anybody that doesn’t acknowledge this reality, like it or not, is like an ostrich with its head in the sand. Same thing at Kansas, Duke and UNC. Maybe it’s beginning to change (let’s not look to history for that answer). But, UofL made the leap and we thought that would never happen. Let’s hope a challenge for the SEC and national championships are often in our future. But, don’t be so sure of getting there and sustaining success as you were about electing Donald Trump. lol

    1. Eazy

      True, but UK is already light years ahead of Kansas and Indiana. Plus we have a much bigger following. We generally out attend UL too.

  31. Yellowshirt618

    I like appetizers better anyway

  32. Lip Man 1

    UK basketball always has been the driving force and the main passion of the fans and alumni. Football has been relevant occasionally but will never replace that. The reason is basically because for the most part, over the past 50+ years, they just haven’t been very good. Basketball however 98% of that time has been very, very good.

    Basketball always was the heart and soul of UK fans…it was yesterday, it is today and it will be tomorrow regardless of what football may be able to accomplish. Notice I used the word “may” because they still haven’t consistently put together anything.

  33. macattack

    As a UK fan you should cheer for all the teams. I’m a football fan, I go to games, follow recruiting, even in the terrible times. But basketball has a history here that football doesn’t. It’s not that its right or wrong, it’s just natural that the team with the most history gets the most focus. Even if UK football starts winning 8,9,10 games, as long as the basketball team is still decently good, they are going to get the spotlight come mid October. That doesnt mean we have to stop cheering for football.

    The thing I have an issue with is how the “football first” fans have such an inferiority complex. But it is what it is I guess.

  34. BobNWeaver

    KENTUCKY Basketball and ALABAMA Football are THE GOLD STANDARDS for those two sports.

  35. kykats

    Football about to have its time in the spotlight😁😁. I am so glad it’s happening! We can and will have several nationally prominent sports. But football is my favorite. And soon everyone will be on board. We GONNA ROCK!!

  36. UKfanforlife

    Football is second to basketball, because it lacks a tradition of winning. If Stoops and staff start stringing winning seasons and bowl games together, their will be a constant buzz about football. No, they can’t beat out hoops, as long as Calipari brings in the best classes every year, but that doesn’t mean football is an after thought. It took four years to get a winning season in the Stoops era. It happened under great adversity. The football team just needs to win games. That is all. I could care less what some tv announcer thinks. I am more concerned about the score board.

  37. BBNFL

    I don’t like Kirk but he is 100% right here. I love UK football as much as anybody but facts are facts, basketball runs the state. It was true when Rupp and Bear Bryant was here and its true now. basketball is just more fun to watch and there is more tradition than football will ever think about having and I’m ok with that. Not a knock against football its just facts. they will never generate the interest of football and football will always use basketball as a recruiting tool. Kirk is not wrong at all

    1. BBNFL

      *that basketball does

  38. JMFATZ47

    Die hard UK basketball fan here with a history of minimal football “craziness.” If we lose a basketball game I am sour for a few days. I get over a football loss as it’s happening. Product of our environment/history. Of course we want football to become a powerhouse. With that being said, the officiating in NCAA hoops is slowly ruining the game as a whole. Many of my family and friends have been more and more turned,off on how hard it has become to watch ANY game due to the piss poor officiating we are constantly witnessing. It’s killing the game worse,than any other factor.

  39. satcheluk

    Basketball is the appetizer for me. I love football and only watch basketball because UK is good. Look forward to the football team being in the same level.