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Could UK Ever Compete For a Title? K-State says They Can

There was a time when Kansas State was probably the worst job in all of college football. That was way back in the year 1989, a year which saw the Wildcats lose every game they played and become the first team in Division I to lose 500 games. It was time for a new direction and that direction came when K-State hired Bill Snyder to become their new head coach. Snyder went on to transform the program amassing nearly as many victories in 17 years (136) as the program had in the previous 60 years. After two losing seasons Snyder retired in 2005 with his legacy apparently in order.

With Snyder gone Kansas stated started to decline and just three years later he was brought back in to lead the Wildcats. The job he has done in his second stint is just as impressive as the first. K-State currently sits at #4 in the polls and controls it’s destiny going forward. Their only ranked opponent over the next five weeks is #15 Texas Tech. If the Wildcats can take care of business and have Oregon slip up, perhaps they will have a spot in the BCS championship game. Unreal to think given the status of the program just 4 years ago.

So how does that apply to our Kentucky Wildcats? With last night’s loss we will not be making a bowl for the second straight year and the program is at a crossroads. The team has been in a backwards trend since Rich Brooks retired three years ago. Joker has one year left on his contract and in order to recruit for the future would require and extension. The facilities are out of date and in need of some major renovations. The state doesn’t produce the talent needed to compete at the SEC level. Many of the problems we face are problems that Kansas State has overcome. Here’s how they did it and how Kentucky can use their methods as an inspiration:

 

Recruiting:

Current Heisman front-runner Collin Klein only held offers from Colorado St. and Kansas St. when he made his college choice. Sounds a little bit like our own under recruited Max Smith. As profiled in an article on ESPN K-State has long looked for under-the-radar guys, transfers, and developing talent. The Cats have done a good job of finding under the radar guys over the past 6 years but the development side has struggled a bit. Kentucky will probably never out recruit the other giants of the SEC. Much like K-State doesn’t out recruit Texas, Oklahoma, or half of the other teams in the BIG 12. However K-State is proving you can have success by cultivating talent, not just 5-star players.

 

Facilities

K-State plays in a stadium that is both older and smaller than commonwealth. The difference with their facilities is that they have kept them up to date and fresh with renovations. Just in January of this year the school announced a 75-million dollar project to bring the stadium up to date. Once Vandy is finished with their current set of renovations then Kentucky will have the worst facilities in the SEC. In just a few short months we will know if the University is committed to building the program or simply content with the current state of affairs.

 

Head Coach

Look at any great football team and you are sure to find a great leader. The jury is still out on Joker. He has had some signature wins such as beating South Carolina/Spurrier and Tennessee for the first time in my lifetime. He has had some close calls like Georgia this year and last and Auburn his first year. And he has had some moments that should never happen like the loss to Western. If Kentucky does get a new head coach hopefully they can find someone that can instantly come in and change the culture of the program. A coach like Snyder.

 

Maybe Kentucky is destined to be a bottom dweller of the SEC but if Kansas State can be transformed into a national title contender then I see no reason why the same thing can’t happen at Kentucky. Rome wasn’t built in a day but Kentucky may finally have the chance to really invest in the future of the program. If they do that then perhaps Kentucky too can transform from laughingstock to competing with the best of the best.

 

 

 

 

Article written by Andrew Cassady

Follow me @ACassady_KSR

42 Comments for Could UK Ever Compete For a Title? K-State says They Can



  1. FRET NOT
    9:34 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    Really? The jury is still out on Joker? He is awful. That is just an idiotic statement to make. Matt Jones must be paying his writers to be sunshine pumpers. Sad.



  2. Scott
    9:35 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    What about Snyder? He is probably out of reach for us right?



  3. BigBlueFan
    9:35 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    Kansas Stated really?!?!?!



  4. Andy
    9:37 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    2 – He’s like 75 years old, I don’t think he wants to rebuild another program. But, Head Coach is the most important thing. Find the next big thing that is currently a coordinator.



  5. tdogg40330
    9:39 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    title contender?? I doubt that. Competing in the SEC?? yeah



  6. tdogg40330
    9:41 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    4) Kirby Smart or Neal Brown



  7. HillbillyInBC
    9:43 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    First step for UK to emulate KState? Move to the Big XII. Since that ain’t happening, the rest is just wishful thinking.



  8. CatGrad7072
    9:46 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    Jury still out on Joker? They returned a guilty verdict after the WKU game



  9. New coach
    10:09 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    6) my vote would be for kirby smart and hire an OC that can run a spread style. Exciting offense and an Alabama “like” (key word like) defense would go far to making uk watchable and a winning program.



  10. Jimi
    10:11 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    Joker will be back, so stop all this chit-chat.
    He has 1 year left on contract & Barnhart will give it to him.



  11. tony
    10:14 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    Maybe once in awhile they can be elite. How often will Kansas State compete for National Championships? Our next step would be winning 6 or 7 games consistently until we established some type of tradition and perhaps every now and then, having a team that reaches a BCS bowl game. But competing at that level year in and year out, like our basketball program is expected, should not be an expectation.



  12. Jake_GOCATS
    10:15 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    I am in now way advocating for Joker. However, to ignore the good he has done while only focusing on the bad is to be mistaken. Sure, the program is undoubtably in a worse place than it was when Joker took over, but is it really worse than before Brooks came here? Did we automatically call for Brooks’ head after an embarrassing 28-16 defeat at home to the Ohio Bobcats in his second year? I’m sure some Cats fans did, however I was not one of them. I will agree that Joker has underperformed so far in his duties as head coach. I will also agree that a current record of 12-22 should be unacceptable for our head coach. I will also concede that Joker took over a better program than Brooks did when he decided to come here. However, as bad as things may seem, I must also point out that Joker has managed to do some things his predecessor(s) couldn’t, such as beating Spurrier, Tennessee, and going to a bowl his first year, the latter of which can at least somewhat be attributed to Brooks. I’m not asking for Joker to retain his job as coach. I’m not even asking to consider the next 4 games to wait and decide your opinion of Joker, which judging from most of the comments, was formed after the WKU game. I am only asking that if we look at the bad Joker has done, which has been uncomfortably high, and also ignoring the good, are we really considered fans? I ask you, Big Blue Nation, to continue to support our boys in blue, because no matter what, these players came here to play for us, the fans. Accordingly, Joker has shown to take full responsibility for the state of the program. And anyone who has forgotten how much this program and state mean to Joker needs to go back and watch his introductory press conference. I think it would help give an insight into how Joker is feeling right now. As always, I will always support Kentucky, because no matter the state of the program, coach, players, etc., we will always be Kentucky, and I will always bleed blue. I hope every Kentucky fan feels the same way. GO CATS!



  13. Jake_GOCATS
    10:18 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    Just a note, Joker is 12-21 so far, not 12-22 . Sorry about that.



  14. mountain man
    10:29 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    Never wanted Brooks. So he got UK to some bowl games. BIG DEAL. The state of Tn. for christ sakes.

    Joker can’t even win enough to get into Tn.



  15. fireant
    10:36 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    Kansas and Oregon aren’t exactly pumping out the NFL talent. UK just needs to be 7-5 or 8-4 every year to reward the fan base. These people have been living with a terrible product for years and the university should be ashamed. Joker is a nice guy and good at some things but he isn’t a leader. Move on. please. Stop saying we don’t have enough top talent in state to get it done. If Nick Saban was the coach do you think the 3 decent in state players would lead us to the top of the SEC? No it would be the 50 we would get from Florida, Georgia, and 5 other talent rich states.



  16. Just Lew
    10:39 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    So your saying we should hire Bill Snyder?



  17. Boomerball48
    10:41 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    Boise State and TCU also come to mind and I believe they also won BCS games!! Hire defensive minded coach and an up-and-comer on on the offensive side that has a twist in his offense that will be hard for teams to prepare for in a week!!



  18. Him
    10:43 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    The jury is not out on joker. He has been found guilty of sucking.



  19. stevem
    10:56 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    AS long as we have Barnhart at the helm of UK football, this program will perpetually compete for last place in the SEC.



  20. Big Whoop
    11:28 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    So…the jury is still out on Joker. This is the best example of UK football fandom and expectations I have yet read. Obviously, our expectations are so low that trending downhill is acceptable and one good game to date is reason for sudden unbridled optimism. We’re goin to win the majority of our next four games. Yeah, that’s the ticket. That’s like saying the Walking Dead could really happen.



  21. Dave in Bangkok
    11:52 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    #12 that must be the dumbest bunch of garbage that I’ve read in an age.

    “Sure, Joker sucks…but he sucks pretty good.”

    He went to a Bowl his first year. BIG F-ing DEAL!!! He also lost the Bowl Game to a headless Pitt team.

    I’ll remind you that the previous four years UK had gone to Bowls.

    Brooks was stuck. He had plateaued and didn’t seem like his cupcake strategy was going to get him over the hump. That said, the Joke should have been able to at least maintain. He has not. He was made coach in waiting for a reason. This season was not that reason.

    Joker is a dead man walking.

    If the jury is still out on the Joke that means that UK fans are so stupid and that the UKAA is so stupid that UK Football may as well accept their fate as the joke of the SEC. UK Football is at a lower point right now than at any point in it’s history.

    Why? Because Brooks showed that it is possible for Kentucky to build itself up and the UKAA simply tossed all of the momentum and progress away as if it was of no consequence AND too many Kentucky football fans as well as the UKAA are too damned dumb to realize it.

    As long as morons are in charge and clamoring for more of the Joke, Kentucky Football will never amount to jacksh*t!



  22. Dave in Bangkok
    11:52 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    Losing is like crack to some people. Apparently, the UKAA and many Kentucky Football fans are crackheads.



  23. Jeremy
    11:56 pm October 21, 2012 Permalink

    Has that time already passed? In seven years Rich Brooks turned us into a Top 10 team. Has our time come and gone? I hope not.



  24. 2020
    12:11 am October 22, 2012 Permalink

    I wish people would stop saying “Joker is a nice guy.” (1) That’s no excuse for being a horrible coach, and (2) He’s really not nice.



  25. fatkidineastky
    12:13 am October 22, 2012 Permalink

    Neal Brown….COme Home…..Change YOUR KENTUCKY PROGRAM FOR THE BETTER!!!!!



  26. sdfadf
    12:32 am October 22, 2012 Permalink

    “… hopefully they can find someone that can instantly come in and change the culture of the program. A coach like Snyder.”

    Snyder’s first 4 years at K-State:
    1-10
    5-6
    7-4
    5-6

    Snyder’s first 2 years at K-state, after hiatus:
    6-6
    7-6

    “Instant” is a bit of a reach, isn’t it? They won because they gave him a year #5 and a year #3.



  27. WestWorld
    6:28 am October 22, 2012 Permalink

    Nice article…..



  28. Scott
    7:01 am October 22, 2012 Permalink

    #12 – TL;DR



  29. Bledsoe's Biceps
    7:09 am October 22, 2012 Permalink

    The jury is still out on Joker? Were you serious about that, or is that your attempt at “most ridiculous manner possible”? If serious, you obviously haven’t been keeping up with current events.



  30. Unknown Fan
    7:23 am October 22, 2012 Permalink

    Wish in one hand and **** in the other and see which one fills up faster…geez,what a load of crap. UK compete for a National Title in FOOTBALL?? Man, you guys are hitting the fall harvest a bit hard…



  31. Rema Morar
    7:57 am October 22, 2012 Permalink

    Messi is the undisputed! Ronaldo is a prolific player but messi is better. What criteria did you use? How on earth is Tevez better than Iniesta? and Kaka better than Xavi? And oh! Van persie had a great season where’s he? Biased rating by all standards.



  32. catfan38
    9:07 am October 22, 2012 Permalink

    Have you been to Mississippi or Mississippi St.’s football stadiums??? Much worse than ours, very much so. We do not have the worse facilities in the SEC. Even SC’s stadium is old and falling apart!!!



  33. Ignorance
    9:08 am October 22, 2012 Permalink

    #12 – If you or one more person compares Rich Brooks, WHO WAS ON PROBATION, to Joker Phillips, WHO WAS NOT ON PROBATION, and in fact took over the program at one of the highest points in UK history, I think I might lose it. I hate how dumb our fan base is. It really is embarrassing.



  34. Bedside Manner
    10:05 am October 22, 2012 Permalink

    Jake, I am in total agreement with you. I, too bleed blue. I follow many of KY’s athletic programs. I wonder how many of these “fans” can say that. I am shocked and sometimes embarassed by many of these comments I read. I really feel for the young student athletes who are subjected to these comments. I know we could be just one or two key decisions away from being a respectable program across the board. Perhaps a lot of these “Naysayers” are only Basketball fans ? ? ? We should pride ourselves by the overall acheivements and not X’s and O’s in the toughest conference in America.



  35. KYWCAT
    10:07 am October 22, 2012 Permalink

    Recruiting: We have our back against the wall, but we aren’t painted in a corner! True we do not have much instate talent. But really do many of the less populated states? New York has 3rd largest population. Good college programs? High number of recruits? Nebraska #39 on population but obviously has years of successful football teams. West Virginia #37, Oklahoma #28, Arkansas #32, Mississippi #31, Oregon #27,Iowa #30 Kansas #33 with #3 team. These states turn out exceptional teams year after year or at least have successful stents in their programs? How good can high school ball be in Oregon, Kansas, Iowa? Kentucky #26. So I’m not sure I believe our instate talent is that poor. But guys who know more than me about such things say that youth and high school football is so poor that it has a direct affect. Call me crazy but I believe that an exceptional head coach at the states major university can have an affect on these programs as well. Maybe he can coach up KY kids and show they can be successful, maybe he can mentor the youth programs and coaches? I don’t know but seems a reasonable thought. Second I think we must need to increase the budget for recruiting. Though I’m not sure any of us know the true budget #’s. Was it the one asked for by the staff? The budget permitted? Or reflective of past use? I can’t imagine that our guys are limited on their exposure to players. I think they just aren’t exposed to the right players. I do think though in looking at other SEC #’s it is apparent that states that don’t bear much talent have higher recruiting budgets. Third I just do not believe our coaches all around have the talent to recognize talent under the radar, though some suggest we have these players (I would like at least a dozen examples in the past 4 years)or the talent to get them, and finally I believe it is undeniable they do not have the talent to coach up these kids. I think they have even proven that we like even the basic strength, conditioning and survival skills to avoid injury which are the first things you coach.

    Facilities: This one gets me every time. I want to know specifically what people believe the problem to be with Commonwealth? Please explain to me where you believe Commonwealth lacks? More seating? (that we cannot fill), More luxury boxes? Backs on the seats? (for whiny, lazy, fat people). I don’t get it. We have state of the art media. We seat an appropriate crowd size, the stadium is spotless, the locker rooms are up to date. What do people want? So many of the winning teams in the SEC have much worse off stadiums. Florida, LSU, SC, MSU I could go on and on. Now I will say the practice facility at Shively/Nutter needs at least a facelift to appeal to these young (instant gratification I want shiny things ) players. But we have all the basic necessaries plus a grade or two above outcompeting programs to field a better team. The indoor needs upgrades as well. Recruiting room is needed if we can prove any value (I think many schools are finding this makes no difference). For me the biggest recruiting tool is #1 a namesake head coach and staff, #2 Wins, #3 a stadium full of fans, #4 Community and University support and marketing, #5 facilities. So I think we can find some solutions to our recruiting but we have to start with the HC.

    Head coach: Joker did not prove to be able to coach talent as an assistant back in the 90’s and I’m not sure there has been proof that he has increased his success in the two subsequent decades no matter where he has been. Coach in waiting was a horrible idea. I believe the only argument we had for hiring him was his affiliation with UK. I think we all hoped as an explayer, previous coach, KY native that he would be able to do all the things that come with those qualifications to reach out to the instate recruits we needed and champion for the program all the money, upgrades etc that we needed. Of course the first thing he had to do was win. Without that none of his other positive attributes matter. Nice guy or not he had never proven to be successful in any level of coaching so I’m not sure what we believed him to do as the head coach.

    Other stuff: Yell all you want as Barnhart I’m not sure he is a limiting factor but he is definitely the easiest to blame. Though we all know he has bosses (President, State, BOT etc) So the decisions about football are never his alone and I’m not even sure they are majorily his. We have hit rock bottom. This school I believe needs to get back to the basics on nearly everything. Strip the games of the fireworks and silliness, open up tailgating, get the band back to traditional Marching (I want to see a power K on that field), get some basic uni’s, get a real Wildcat on the sidelines (If LSU can have a tiger we have no excuse, I’m sure some family in Eastern KY would love to donate theirs), bring back the cannon and forget the fireworks, get some traditional chants, make people want to get their early and stay late. I think it is hilarious how the fans feel not showing up to a game sends the negative message they want. Imagine what sort of positive message showing up to the games would send to our players, incoming recruits and the building of tradition. Joker’s record determines his fate, not your absence.



  36. JeffCat
    11:15 am October 22, 2012 Permalink

    When joker was hired, did he fire a couple of Brooks coaching guys? I vaguely remember that. Something along the lines of “I want coaches who will go out and recruit, not be content to just develop undervalued talent.” anyone else remember this?



  37. kybigblue
    11:44 am October 22, 2012 Permalink

    Kansas St. started it’s climb up the ratings after beating EKU 10-7 when coming from behind by scoring 10 pts in the fourth quarter at the beginning of the season a year ago, Sept.3, 2011.



  38. nerlensnoelshair
    1:29 pm October 22, 2012 Permalink

    #11 If you missed it we were winning 6 or 7 consistently and ready to take it to the next level. Instead we took it to the next level – but the level down not up.



  39. OneleggedHershel
    3:31 pm October 22, 2012 Permalink

    HillbillyinBC is right, to consistently compete in the SEC you have to have skilled depth in most every position on both sides of the ball, not just develop a hand full of quality skill players on offense every few years. They can and do win without good defense in the Big 12, you can’t in the SEC. Plus, multiple injuries each year are a way of life in the physical SEC, and if your backups are inexperienced underclassmen, you will not win the match ups with redshirt juniors and seniors across the board. Ky cannot afford to lose half a dozen or more players each year to grades, arrests, injuries or WOS (wastes of scholarship). Use to be KY fans understood Ky football success is a winning record and bowl trip every 3 to 5 years, hoping for some competitive games and an occasional upset each year in between. The fan frustration last year was because the team was not competitive or showing signs of improvement. But the team never quit on Joker and were rewarded by the Tennessee win. Before this season most people understood Ky would be lucky to win 4 games with all the young players and a tough schedule. With all the injuries this year, it would be a major coaching achievement to do just that.

    One of the problems is Mitch overpriced his product, so that people’s expectations began to increase with the annual price hikes. Ever increasing “competitive” prices compared to other teams in the conference are expected to result in a consistently “competitive” squad on the field, or people will stay home and watch it on TV for the two games a year that are actually exciting. And this comes from a fan who was there for the rare Alabama, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee upsets over the last 20+ years.



  40. WildcatFever
    8:15 pm October 22, 2012 Permalink

    Has anyone thought about Neal Brown. He’s UK alum, and one hell of good offensive coordinator. One of the best young up and coming coach’s in the nation.



  41. KYWCAT
    9:36 am October 23, 2012 Permalink

    #40 Brown is 32 years old. Not sure he has the age on him to handle a HC position yet and yes he has really given a lift to TCU but his prior experience has been nothing like the SEC. Plus I’m not sure how many position coaches want to coach for a guy who is 10-25 years younger than them. Now OC. That may be something.



  42. Caleb
    3:46 pm October 23, 2012 Permalink

    Ok, Before you call for Mitch’s head. Realize football is just one sport he is in charge of. The Women’s Bball has been as good as ever. The Tennis team had a outstanding athlete graduate last year. The Bat cats where really good last year. The Rifle team was like second for the title last year. Cheerleaders continue to be good. Most importantly, Mitch hired Calipari.