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Biggest disaster in UK history

In the last five or ten years, both major Kentucky programs have seen major highs and lows. But what is the lowest of the lows? The football team once knocked off the No. 1 ranked team in the country and Rich Brooks had the Cats locked into bowl games for multiple seasons… Then Joker Phillips. The basketball team was suffering under Billy Clyde… Then John Calipari came along and the rest was history. But were those ugly periods among the biggest disasters in Kentucky’s history?

A Sea of Blue asks the question, and nominates several of the biggest catastrophes in the athletic program’s history…

1. The loss of Bear Bryant (1954)
2. Hiring of Billy Gillispie (2007)
3. Loss to Gardner-Webb (2007)
4. Loss to Robert Morris (2013)
5. “Bluegrass Miracle” (2002)

Not included was the controversy surrounding the Eddie Sutton era, including the Emery Worldwide package from Dwayne Casey addressed to Chris Mills’ father that popped open in California to reveal $1,000. Also not included was the 1952 death penalty season, cancelled by the SEC.

In the end, what is the biggest disaster in Kentucky’s history? You can vote at A Sea of Blue. The early lead favors the loss of Bear Bryant, with a close second to the hiring of Billy Gillispie.

What do you think?

Article written by Stuart Hammer

B.S. Broadcast Journalism from the University of Kentucky. @StuartHammerKSR

57 Comments for Biggest disaster in UK history

  1. Blue Jordans
    2:36 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    A Sea of Blue and College Spun ran articles about the Twins and Young not being academically eligible. I’d like to hear Matt and KSR’s take if possible. Has anything changed with their status from a month ago? Thanks guys

  2. MattNoscar
    2:51 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t believe it was ever proven that Casey was the person who sent the package with his return address on it. You may be the only person alive who thinks the package “popped” open. I believe Emery Worldwide paid Casey well for having opened the package.

  3. David from San Diego
    2:52 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    For me it’s that Tubby’s tenure lasted 10 years. That 10 years allowed UK to gradually fall like a slow motion car accident, while other programs rose. Even worse, it happened during the rise of digital media and it’s taken a genius like Cal, combined with the constant presence of loyal fans and great players to turn it around. Gillespie lasted 2 years, Tubby lasted 10. I’d take his 2 bad yrs for 10 of Tubby’s continual decline any day. Thank goodness Cal has us back in prominence where we belong. What an amazing job he has executed. Go Big Blue! Can’t wait for this season.

  4. grammar police
    2:52 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    Dwane Casey

  5. ukfan
    2:56 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    Billy G, hands down. Mark Coury was in our starting line up for crying out loud.

  6. PhilUK18
    2:59 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink


    Google gives no results for a search of “a sea of blue Harrison twins ineligible”. So are you just pulling things out of your ass and trolling?

  7. UK
    3:01 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    Robert Morris to me isn’t so much a failure as it was a learning experience. Cal knows to have depth on rosters now which will help going forward. Yes it was a bad loss but I’m
    not worried about the state of the basketball program now as much as after Billy G’s NIT run.

  8. unreconstructed
    3:05 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    What # 3 said….

  9. JPhelps
    3:06 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    Robert Morris wouldn’t be in my Top 10, IMHO… I, as well as most of the fanbase, had written off the year so to speak, it was surprising, but all in all, an incredible learning tool for young kids.

    Billy Clyde was a disaster completely, good call on that one.

    Conversely, I think a bigger loss was either UAB/UK Gerald Fitch’s senior year, we were set for a fantastic run that year, or footballs 40-0 blanking to VU last year.

  10. Smiley Pete
    3:23 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    This article is directly ripped from A Sea of Blue and credit is hidden in the last line or two. It should be in the Title or header.

  11. Cal'sBloatedGut
    3:25 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    When Cal gets uk the death penalty, uahk will be on the list.

  12. Cal'sBloatedGut
    3:25 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    That’s cow will be on the list.

  13. ky1der
    3:29 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    Trent DiGiuro

  14. floorgeneral22
    3:43 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    How can the loss to Robert Morris be on there? It was a disappointing end to a disappointing season, but it’s not like we were a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament and were stacked top to bottom. The team struggled all year, and once Nerlens went down the year was over in terms of an NCAA run.

  15. GMoney
    3:46 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    Robert Morris? How can a NIT loss be a top 5 failure. The fact that we were in the NIT period was a bigger failure than losing a game in it.

  16. busterqbundy
    3:46 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    Easily it’s the NCAA probation and Eddie Sutton’s final losing season, resulting in probation and a mass exodus of players (in the “modern era”). Prior to that it would be the gambling scandal in the early 50’s.

  17. Random
    3:50 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    As much as UofLol fans like to bring it up, the Robert Morris loss was meaningless to me. After the injury to Noel and all the struggles of that season I was kinda ready for it just to be over. That and I didn’t even watch because I had a feeling they would drop the game because they wouldn’t even want to be there.

  18. floorgeneral22
    3:50 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    And I don’t understand the “slow decline” of the Tubby years, either. We had two good years, followed by three mediocre years, followed by three years where we were national title contenders (as well as running the table in the SEC and winning the tournament in the same season), followed by two bad years. I don’t think he was the right guy for the job but his tenure was up and down, not a constant slide. The truth is, is it hadn’t been for Dwyane Wade and Keith Bogans’ ankle we probably would have won another title that year as well.

  19. tuxedo park
    3:54 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    apparently the twins and young have not been declared academically eligible. That is not like saying they are ineligible. As UK fans we are used to the NCAA jerking us around until the last second. It’s a formality. They did the same thing with Nerlens.

  20. Graham
    3:55 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    The day someone said, hey let’s open a university in Lexington.

  21. Bobby Mo
    3:57 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    We will beat UK in Rupp. Point, blank, period.

    3:59 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    So when will the people of Kentucky start to bail us out? Sill will not allow UK to play in our arena, LOL!

  23. Carlos Danger
    4:00 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    Linda honey, what are you wearing?

  24. Linda Taylor
    4:02 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    19, 23 – What is your real name? Why don’t you have the courage to post under your real name? Have you always hid behind your mommy’s skirts too?

  25. Linda Taylor
    4:14 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    28-Why are you doing this?

  26. theSkinny81
    4:17 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    What’s funny is these trolls not only visit the site, but listen to the radio show, as evidenced by 26’s name. That’s a special kind of pathetic.

    Matt and the callers reference Tony Vanetti/Afternoon Underdogs all the time, yet I’ve NEVER once listened to that show. Why would I? Louisville f*****ing sucks!

  27. Linda Taylor
    4:17 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    27, 28 – I couldn’t care less what your name is. Let me guess, Thaddeus Rumplestein Octavius Loustenberg Loser.

  28. my computer
    4:17 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    Good idea! Let’s sit around and reminisce about the bad old days!

    Did Jerry Tipton post this?

  29. Linda Taylor
    4:19 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    30- Yes you are right, all those people are losers.

  30. Duuuuuude
    4:32 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    I agree with #16. I liked Eddie Sutton, but he was overwhelmed by the job given his drinking situation and he allowed the boosters to run rough shot over the program, ultimately ending with the alleged Emory Air package incident. Things were so bad that Pitino’s first team that went 14-14 was a fan favorite. It was a very dark time. Tubby ball was frustrating, but the end of the Sutton era was very dark.

  31. Catwild66
    4:32 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink


  32. brain
    4:35 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    #4 doesn’t belong in the top 20.

  33. kybigblue
    4:41 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    Didn’t Pat Summitt once say that she probably would have ended up at UK if UK had paid her moving expenses. It certainly was one of the biggest mistakes made by UK.

  34. 11. bite my big blue bag!

  35. Andrew
    4:59 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    I sure as hell wouldn’t call the loss to Gardner Webb and Robert Morris a catastrophe. They’re 2 games. What about Eddie sutton? What about bill curry and joker Phillips? All 3 of those coaches, except curry, ruined either a traditional power or took years of decent success and absolutely ran it straight into the ground. Curry just couldn’t win period. And We didnt have much before that other than Fran curci. They’re saying 2 losses out of around 4000 games are worse than those 3 coaching eras? I do not

  36. Bobbum man
    5:08 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    Will people quit cryin about the twins and young? Yes they haven’t been declared eligible because they graduated late quit being lazy and take 4 minutes to do a little research…. They’ll be here in the fall

  37. GoCats
    5:15 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    How about the 04 loss to UAB? I think that was my first heartbreak

  38. kellyinknox
    5:26 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    what about not hiring Pat Summit 30 years ago when she wanted to come to Kentucky? UK would not pay her moving expenses and were paying her the same salary as Ut.

  39. Reality
    5:28 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    Can’t believe some simpletons on here still think the reason Young and the twins aren’t here is because they graduated late.

  40. RahRah
    5:57 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    And some of us can’t believe that you uvel fans don’t realize that it takes a little longer to clear an incoming freshman worth having. We’re used to it here.

  41. howaboutthis
    6:37 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    Not paying moving fee for Pat Summitt, to become womens basketball coach!!!!!

  42. ruppsrunt
    6:46 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    That extra year for destruction provided ten loss tubby ranks as a top 3 DISASTER. Twice he reneged on his own offers for a buy out–then hung around to assure mediocrity prevailed.


  43. Garmaster
    6:53 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    Is the correct answer “that shirt Coach Cal has been wearing recently”? I think the shirt is fine, but I’m no fashionista and seem to be in the minority.

  44. WildTurkey101
    7:01 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    #1 is Eddie Sutton/UK boosters scandal.

  45. Dee W.
    7:07 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    #18 – yes, #3 is quite upset about something that never occurred.

    Tubby Smith record at Kentucky

    1997 – 1998 – 35-4 overall, 14-2 SEC, SEC regular season champions, SEC tournament Champions, NCAA Champions, SEC Coach of the Year

    1998 – 1999 – 28-9 overall, 11-5 SEC, SEC tournament Champions, NCAA Elite 8

    1999 – 2000 – 23-10 overall, 12-4 SEC, SEC regular season Champions (tied), NCAA Round of 32

    2000 – 2001 – 24-10 overall, 12-4 SEC, SEC regular season Champions (tied), SEC tournament Champions, NCAA Sweet 16

    2001 – 2002 – 22-10 overall, 10-6 SEC, NCAA Sweet 16

    2002 – 2003 – 32-4 overall, 16-0 SEC, SEC regular season Champions, SEC tournament Champions, Granted #1 seed NCAA tournament, NCAA Elite Eight, SEC Coach of the Year, Naismith National Coach of the Year, Henry Iba Award for best national coach of the year, AP National Coach of the Year, first team since 1952 to go undefeated through SEC conference play through both the regular season and tournament (and first and only to do so with 16 regular season games), new record set for highest attendance at a game at Rupp Arena during this season, largest margin of victory (62 points) over an opponent in a game since 1952, first college coach since 1975 to sweep all NCAA recognized national coach of the year honors in the same season

    2003 – 2004 – 27-5 overall, 13-3 SEC, SEC Tournament Champions, Granted #1 overall seed NCAA tournament, NCAA round of 32

    2004 – 2005 – 28-6 overall, 14-2 SEC, #1 recruiting class, SEC regular season Champions, SEC tournament runner-up, NCAA Elite Eight, SEC Coach of the Year, Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year, AP National Coach of the Year

    2005 – 2006 – 22-13 overall, 9-7 SEC, NCAA round of 32

    2006 – 2007 – 22-12 overall, 9-7 SEC, NCAA round of 32

  46. Rei
    7:24 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    Tubby can be compared to Boeheim in the sense that they’re both good coaches with excellent records but could never push through to greatness at a championship level.

  47. Our Goofy Group of Fans
    8:14 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink


  48. Tim
    8:41 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    I have no idea why we would ever want to focus on the low’s of the program. They happened, so be it. At this point I could care less. Go Big Blue

  49. Jason
    8:47 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    Don’t know if its been mentioned already, but I’ve heard we had an agreement with Pat Summit before she went to Tennessee. She didn’t come because we wouldn’t pay $1,000 for moving expenses.

  50. Concerned
    9:27 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    I, probably like most readers of this site, started reading KSR daily following the BCG firing. The posts were consistent and the information provided made me feel like I was an insider of UK athletics. KSR provided free information that kept it’s readers in the know.

    However, since the KSR brand has expanded into this era of unknown writers, the quality and information are both lacking. I have turned to other sites now for information regarding UK athletics simply because most of the posts found here are not informative as they once were… and the KSR writers response is always “another slow day for news”. Other sites are finding interesting topics to write about, such as this post which was written on sea of blue two days ago.

    Please get this blog back to prominence. I don’t read the site as often, even during bball season, simply because the posts are not appealing, or because I have already read the information somewhere else. I use to come here to check for the latest updates, or breaking news, now I get a banner notification on my iPhone long before KSR has a post. I hope KSR can get back to being THE go to source for UK sports!

    Just one reader’s thoughts and concerns!

  51. don
    10:19 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    You all dont really know about Ky history..You are too young and you put stuff on this board hoping to get hits..Stick with current stuff and try to add something that is relevant..You are
    clueless when it comes to the past.

  52. Yep
    10:25 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    Only a dumbazz would type any other name other than Bear Bryant. The administration allowed the greatest coach ever to walk out the door.

  53. james wilson
    11:51 pm July 27, 2013 Permalink

    The loss of Bear Bryant… of we keep him along side rupp in bball.. were powerhouses in both major sp orts and alabama isnt what it is.. changed the hostory of college football

  54. BurnerTurner5
    7:04 am July 28, 2013 Permalink

    And we’ve all seen four of the five catastrophes. How lucky are we?

  55. kelleydog
    10:31 am July 28, 2013 Permalink

    Hiring Billy, could have Cal when we hired Billy. Barnhardt 2nd – he was dumb enough to hire Billy and hire Joker.

  56. dodger1
    10:54 am July 28, 2013 Permalink

    my vote would be the losing streak to tenn and current to fla and joining the sec in football.

  57. mike
    10:13 pm July 28, 2013 Permalink

    What #3 said, #45 proves it, of the last four years one year elite 8 and three years of round 32, [everyone knows the championship wasn’t his], not good enough for UK.