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On This Day In KSR History…

Throughout the summer we are going to revisit some of the posts of the past to see how far we’ve come as a website and as fans of the Kentucky Wildcats. Today’s edition of “On This Day In KSR History” comes from July 25, 2008, when Matt Jones asked, “How Do We Judge Football Success?”

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August 7, 2006

Kentucky Football 2006 — How Do We Judge Success?
Matt Jones

There is certainly a buzz amongst the fanbase about the upcoming Kentucky football season. Spurred on by the great (for Kentucky) recruiting class of last year, fans truly believe that there is about to be upward movement and, for the first time in recent memory, there is a chance that the program will turn around. Much of this optimism is understandable. The Kentucky team is deeper than it has been in recent memory, the players are motivated and unified and the schedule favors the team in ways that it did not last year. Thus improvement is bound to take place, correct?

Well maybe. In one sense, I think it is hard to dispute that this Kentucky team will be better where some would say it matters most, in the win column. But will the team be better? A closer look at the schedule suggest that more than just aggregate wins needs to be considered before judging the success. Kentucky’s schedule is dramatically different than it was last year, and because of that, evaluation of the team needs to be tweaked a bit. Here’s why.

Kentucky is likely to add two total wins simply by changes in scheduling. Whereas the past few years have seen non-conference games with Louisville, Indiana and a terrible team, this year the schedule sees Louisville and three mediocre to bad teams. Because Louisville is likely unbeatable, what this means is that Kentucky has traded Indiana, a team on the Cats level and one that could be a win or loss each year, for two games that they are supposed to win. Thus whereas in year’s past a normal Kentucky team would either be 2-1 or 1-2 in the nonconference, this year a normal or even below normal team will be 3-1.

Thus last year Kentucky was 1-2 in the non-conference. This year, if they are No Better, they will be 3-1. That is a huge difference.

Now lets go to the SEC part of the schedule. In Rich Brooks’s three years at Kentucky, he has only beaten two SEC teams, Vanderbilt and Mississippi St. Fortunately for the Cats, both teams are on the schedule every year and Kentucky defeated both teams last year.

Thus if Kentucky is No Better than they were last year, they will once again beat Vanderbilt and Mississippi St. Thus for the six non-conference games plus the two regular SEC wins, the Cats will be 5-1.

What does this mean? A Kentucky team that performs not better, but the SAME as the average of the Rich Brooks era gets five wins. That is an important point. A Kentucky team that wins only five games is actually showing no improvement from years past, but is simply treading water. Five wins seems like more than three….and it is, but the improvement will not come by on the field upward mobility, but scheduling quirks.

That means that in the remaining six games (South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, LSU and Ole Miss), the Cats must win ONE of these games to show any improvement whatsoever. A case can even be made that an Ole Miss win is not that impressive (especially since the game is at home), but I wont make that case. A win over any of these teams (and Ole Miss is the likely pick) means six victories, a bowl bid and a showing of improvement by the program.

So how do we evaluate the coaching staff at the end of the year? To me the criteria is simple…..7 wins or more and the staff has done an AMAZING job and improvement is evident across the board. 6 wins (which might have equated to only four wins under the old schedule format) and improvement has been reached, but it is only slight. Five wins and the team has made no steps forward. Four or less and the team has actually regressed.

It is odd to look at a program that will surely win more games and say that it might have held steady or even regressed. But with changes in scheduling and the addition of a 12th game, that is the case. Ultimately for Brooks, six is the magic number. Hit it and the case is made that the team is headed in the right direction. Miss it, and I would be surprised if he is here next year.

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Kentucky won eight games that season and made its first bowl since 1999.

 

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

10 Comments for On This Day In KSR History…



  1. MoreHistory
    12:55 pm August 7, 2012 Permalink

    And if the vocal fans would have had their way Brooks would have already been fired and it may not have happened. Here’s to hoping this year works out the same way!



  2. Kentucky Gentleman
    12:55 pm August 7, 2012 Permalink

    UK definitely needs to go back to scheduling comparable teams from other BCS conferences rather than scheduling cupcakes to ensure wins. Who cares if we can beat Central Michigan or whatever Division 1-AA teams are on the schedule? We are in the best conference for college football and shouldn’t rely on cupcake teams to make a bowl. Wins against teams that are not even D-1 should not even count towards bowl eligibility victories.



  3. gossie21
    12:59 pm August 7, 2012 Permalink

    There were plenty of the clever “Ditch Mitch & Rich” bumper stickers. Those disappeared after the 2007 season. I was very critical of Rich Brooks early on, that’s why I can’t get behind the “Fire Joker” fans. I certainly think the football program can play better, but I am willing to give the coach a fair shot to show what he can do. A lot will be riding on this year. However, it is actually the opposite of the 2006 year Matt analyzed above. We could have the same 5-7 record this year as last year, and be vastly improved. Unfortunately, if the fans stop buying up the tickets, on-field performance may have little to do with whether Joker sticks around.



  4. RobDaddy
    1:48 pm August 7, 2012 Permalink

    Uhh…Kentucky lost to both Vandy and Miss. St. last year.



  5. RICK
    1:49 pm August 7, 2012 Permalink

    5 WINS THIS SEASON LOOKS PRETTY TOUGH.IF JOKER CAN GET THIS DONE THEN ONE MORE YEAR IS LIKLEY.LETS GIVE HIM A CHANCE LIKE WE DID OBAMA AND HOPE FOR BETTER RESULTS.



  6. Derek
    1:55 pm August 7, 2012 Permalink

    But…………..Joker took over a program that was in much better shape than when Brooks walked in.



  7. ukcat58
    2:52 pm August 7, 2012 Permalink

    You are dreaming if you think we will win 5 games – Vandy destroyed us last year and Coach Frankin had the 25th best recruiting class in the country last year, no one less than a 3 star, And Franklin has them believing they can win. Miss State will beat us again as Mullins is an offensive force we can’t stop and we don’t have enough offensive punch ( Joker and his up the middle mentality) And let’s not forget that WKU took us to the wire and should have won and finished the season strong.
    End of year – 3-9 Joker gone – Mitch at bat with a 3-2 count –
    Quit drinking the Kool aid and get a dose of reality –



  8. BT
    2:52 pm August 7, 2012 Permalink

    I am staying positive and hoping for the best.
    Rich took on a probation team that was down 19 scholarships.



  9. BT
    2:56 pm August 7, 2012 Permalink

    Vandy had the stars aligned last year. They lost 32 upperclassman off of last years team. They are in the same boat on the hardwood.



  10. CALCATS
    8:34 am August 8, 2012 Permalink

    #2, if we don’t schedule cupcakes right now then we don’t win.
    Vandy crushed us last year and the game is even at best. Miss St will be very tough for us to beat. Face it we’re at the bottom of the league in football. It will be slow to dig out. Some say we can compete with the upper echelon of the SEC. I say just get to a point to play respectably (beat UT twice a decade, Florida once a decade, Vandy 8 times, Miss St 6, etc.) and go to a decent bowl and be happy with that. What’s wrong with that. I want Joker to win, but it’s not exciting. We need a up pace scheme on offense and continue to try to get better on defense. Look at what Oregon and Texas Tech have done in the past. They were both terrible in football. Now Oregon got to play for the NC and TT played in a stud bowl recently.

    OH and by the way – We just won #8 – Live Now! Life is good! Go Cats!