Every Friday from now until football season, I give this post up to you. You give me your favorite, most memorable, funniest, saddest, whatever story related to UK athletics. It doesn’t have to be any minimum length although the person who send me a 1-sentence post probably will not make it. But I just want the story that you always tell your friends or means the most to you. You don’t have to use your name. Just send it to me at [email protected]
In the Fall of 1974, my dad took me out of school around noon one day much to my surprise as he had never done that. Sure I was glad to miss half a day of 5 th grade but didn’t know until I got in the car with he and a neighbor that we were going to Lexington for the annual Blue/White basketball game in Memorial Coliseum. That year a freshmen team led by Jack Givens and Rick Robey beat a senior team led by Kevin Grevey and Bob Guyette. From that moment on, I was a fanatical UK basketball fan. That UK team would eventually be National Runner-Up to UCLA in John Wooden’s last game as coach. A few years later while returning from a high school baseball road game, our school (Mason County) was hosting one of the barn storming end of the year games for the 1980 UK seniors — Kyle Macy, Jay Shidler and Fred Cowan. Our coach instructed us to empty our lockers so the UK guys could use them for the game. Shidler didn’t say a word but sat down right in front of my locker as I was leaving. I remember he had some cool cowboy boots. I hurried home to eat dinner only to return a short time later to watch the exhibition game. I have since taken both my sons to Blue-White games and watched countless games on tv experiencing both the thrill of victory and agony of defeat. My two older children are proud UK graduates and my younger son will be a freshmen at UK this Fall. He is looking forward to being in the eRupption Zone to cheer on next year’s exciting team and also hopes to be in class with some of the players. Big Blue Nation has been a major part of my life for over 40 years.
I started going to UK football games with my dad and brother when I was 9 years old. I’ve been going ever since, and up until the renovations we sat in the very top row of section 141 in the East end zone. Every year the same family sat in front of us. Don’t know there names, but they were fun to be around. Especially one guy, who was seemingly always drunk and always yelled “HIT ‘EM IN THE MOUTH!” (those of you who ever sat in the vicinity know who I’m talking about). We always just called him “hit ’em in the mouth” because that’s all we knew of him. That…and he liked to drink. I’ll get back to him in a bit. Anyway, through all the years of going to UK games I’ve seen the bad (Lorenzen INT vs Florida, the Bluegrass Miracle to name a few) and I’ve seen the incredible (“Stevie got loose”, upset of UGA, upset of LSU, and more). Needless to say, there was no lack of cheering and heartbreak in my years of UK football. I hardly remember anything of the bluegrass miracle game except for the play itself. Honestly, I knew little about football at the time. But through the years I learned and became more and more passionate about Kentucky football.
Let’s go back a few years to another Kentucky vs Georgia game in Lexington. You know…the one where Randall Cobb played quarterback. You remember that game. Cobb single handedly kept us in the game. Cobb drove us down the field as the clock ticked away where a touchdown would win it. And you guys know what happens next. Cobb throws the screen pass and a Georgia lineman reaches up and intercepts it. Game over. I was devastated. We came so close to winning another big game. My heart was broken. I sat down and put my head in my hands. I was crying. Somebody sat down next to me and put their arm around me.
It was “Hit ’em in the mouth”.
Beer on his breath, he said “Hey man, don’t be upset. You know, in a way I’ve watched you grow up. I remember when you were just a short fella. Just know that it’ll be okay even if we win or lose. We’ve all got each other.” And then he stood up and left with his group. I don’t know if this guy remembers any of that at all, but it was a cool moment. We don’t sit near each other anymore because of the renovations, and I never see him…but ole “hit ’em” and I will always have that special moment.