I know most of you are still hung over from The X-Factor last night so I won’t use all caps today. On a serious note, if you are still tailgating for the Archie Goodwin decision, send me a picture on Twitter @MontellKSR. This goes for this weekend and the rest of the football season: if you have a tailgate, gameday rager, college house bed sheet sign that goes above and beyond, or if you are simply a Wildcat super fan doing something extraordinary, take a picture on your cell phone or beeper and send it over. I’ll find a way to use it here or on the Twitter account somehow.
Now, back to business. I believe you and I may have gotten off on the wrong foot. First of all, I hate mediocrity like a fat kid hates skates. I love Kentucky football and I’m as frustrated with this group as you are, believe me. That’s why I made a list of the “benchmark” programs that are similarly situated with Kentucky in order to combat justification for mediocrity. You’ve heard the excuses about Kentucky’s poor recruiting base, lack of football investment, academic ranking, etc. I’m not writing these posts to hide poor performance behind UK’s inherent challenges; I’m writing to show that other programs are getting it done in spite of those challenges.
Excuse #1: “Kentucky has a terrible football recruiting base, so UK will never be able to compete.”
Kentucky is by no means a football recruiting hot bed. A 2006 ESPN list ranked the Bluegrass State as the 36th best state for high school football recruiting. (Got your message loud and clear, bro). From 2007- 2011, Tennessee high schools produced an average of fifty-five D-1 signees a year. North Carolina yielded ninety-five signees per year. Missouri? Sixty-nine signees. Pennsylvania? 103 signees. Mississippi averages seventy- nine signees, Arkansas thirty- two and South Carolina averages sixty- four. Not to mention the masses at Florida, California, Ohio, Texas, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana. You get the picture.
In that same time period, Kentucky high schools averaged just twenty-four (24) signees per year. Assume that the top programs will court the few four and five star kids hard, and that leaves the handful of other recruits to be picked over by UK and Louisville. Also consider that a school’s chance at landing a three plus star recruit decreases exponentially with every mile outside of the 200-mile radius of the recruit’s hometown. You can see what makes this excuse so tempting.
But not so fast, my friend. In the above five years measured, West Virginia high schools averaged just five signees per year. However, WVU posted a Rivals Top-50 class every year but once since 2003, cracking the Rivals Top 30 three times and sent twenty-five (25) Mountaineers to the NFL since 2002. Kentucky sent nineteen (19) players to the NFL, posted four Rivals Top 50 recruiting classes with no classes ranked below 36th. Louisville sent twenty- nine (29) players to the League, recorded six Rivals Top 50 classes and two Scout Top-15 classes. What’s more: WVU and UL won 85 and 70 games since the 2002 season; Kentucky won just 53. UK can’t hide behind schedule strength either, as the WVU SOS over that period was 42nd and the UK SOS was 49th (More on this in a later post).
Perhaps most damaging to this excuse is the case of Boise State. Idaho produced an average of ten signees per annum, but Boise is 200 miles from nowhere. Lexington is 200 miles or less from Knoxville, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Dayton. Boise is 253 miles from Walla Walla. Look it up. While Kentucky fans were crying about a lack of high school football talent, Boise State was building a solid football program. In the time period described above, the Broncos sent nineteen players to the NFL, racked up a number of Scout and Rivals Top-50 classes and one Scout Top-25 class. Boise State won 103 games since 2002 and the BSU SOS averaged just 62nd in that time period. Not too bad for a WAC club.
I could sit and give you statistics all day, like how Massachusetts’s high schools average the same amount of signees as Kentucky, yet Boston College won twenty-eight more games and sent five more NFL players than UK, while maintaining nearly identical SOS ratings (49th, 50th). I could make the stats shorter, like Connecticut averaged only (14) signees, yet UConn won (65) games with a SOS average at 59th. Or how Oregon averaged only (16) signees but U of O won (78) games with a SOS average at 40th. But you’d just say something about how Oregon is an exception because it neighbors California. Then I’d have to be all like, “The distance between Eugene, Oregon and Los Angeles is nearly 100 miles longer that the distance Lexington is from Charlotte and Atlanta combined.” I don’t want to do that, I really don’t.
I could even tell you how bad Iowa high school football is, and about U. of Iowa’s (78) wins with a SOS average at 36th. But I won’t. You get the point.
Go Cats. #noexcuses #freeaboyd