Below, I have broken down Kentucky football into “8 Rules to be Successful”. And by successful, I mean TO THE FANS. Some of these rules would not qualify as successful to Joker Phillips and the players. Hopefully, they want to go 12-0 every season. But to fans, especially at Kentucky, you don’t really have to do a lot for the fans to label you successful. Some of them involve wins and losses, and some of them are simply about the kind of play you produce. Tell me if I am spot on or what rules you would add:
1. Pass the Football
-Call this the Hal Mumme effect, but even before Mumme and his Air Raid offense, Cats fans grumbled loudly about the poorly run option attack of Bill Curry. And since Mumme left, Cats fans have at least been presented with offenses that are semi-pass happy. Rich Brooks always asserted that the run setup the pass, but in the Andre Woodson years, that often wasn’t the case. Last year, many fans once again were screaming about the lack of downfield passing, whether or not Hartline could make those throws. I think Cats fans don’t care if there team is getting beat, they just want to lose in an exciting manner.
2. Make a Bowl Game
-At the end of the day, as long as Kentucky makes it to a bowl game, Cats fans will be satisfied. Sure, many would like to go to better bowls than the Music City or BBVA-NAFTA Bowl, but I also think they are realistic enough to recognize the limitations of the program in the SEC, and be happy in going to a bowl every year. This has been a change from the early 2000’s, when a bowl every 2 or 3 years was acceptable. Rich Brooks changed that attitude to where a bowl is a must to keep fans happy.
3. Beat Vanderbilt
-Often times, beating the Mississippi schools determine just how good a season UK will have. But, under no circumstances do Kentucky fans accept losses to Vanderbilt. On a national scale, college football fans think of Kentucky and Vanderbilt as the bottom feeders of the SEC. At an SEC level, we think of ourselves as better than Vanderbilt. The only way to keep that opinion is to beat them EVERY year. Kentucky fans may WANT wins over Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia more than Vanderbilt, but they will ACCEPT no loss to the Commodores.
4. No Blowout Losses
-I posted this a couple weeks ago, but I will say it again. Kentucky football fans don’t care about winning as much as they care about not losing big. Just don’t embarrass us on the field. We don’t want to be the butt of jokes, from UL fans or others in the south. Kentucky usually has enough talent on the field, especially in the last 5 years, to where even the elite programs like Florida and LSU should not beat the Cats by more than 14 points. But when you lose to LSU 49-0 or Florida 63-5, fans begin to lose interest and grumble.
5. Make Season Progress
-The thing that might have pissed fans off most about last season was that the performance in the Pitt bowl game was no better than the performance in Game 1. Kentucky fans, like all fanbases, want to see improvement on a game by game basis. Not only in the play of the athletes, but also in the gameplan of the coaches. We didn’t see that year. Plus, if fans see progress as the year moves along, it gives them some optimism for the next season. Hence why there is such a malaise coming into to 2011 season.
6. Beat UL in In-State Recruiting
-Thanks to Steve Kragthorpe and his ineptness, Kentucky dominated the top talent in the state of Kentucky for the last few years. But Charlie Strong has tried to turn the tide on that. Because there is limited top talent in the state on a yearly basis, generally every top player in the state has UK and UL on their list, leading to many battles. And as we all know, we have to beat Louisville in everything and everybody.
7. Avoid “Stupid” Plays
-On defense, it is missed tackles and blown assignments. On offense, its dropped passes and false starts. For whatever reason, and maybe this is just a myth, but it feels like Kentucky does this more often than most teams, especially on defense. And it drives fans nuts. There is no way there is an SEC team that has missed more tackles in the past 15 years than Kentucky. So, when Rich Brooks attempted, and succeeded to an extent, in removing many of the stupid plays from his teams, I think fans really respected that.
8. Use the Players Correctly
-Using Tim Couch in the option. Letting Randall Cobb only touch the ball 10 times a game. Never using Ryan Mossakowski. These are examples of when players were either poorly used or never given an opportunity. And let’s be honest, fans don’t always know what is best. Mossakowski might not have DESERVED a chance to play. But it was quite obvious Cobb needed to touch it more. And Couch shouldn’t run the option. And Defender X shouldn’t be playing corner. And so on and so on. If the players are misused, especially at Kentucky where we don’t always have a roster full of 5-stars, fans will turn quick.