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Rich Brooks, Steve Spurrier and some truly awful writing

This has nothing to do with the post.

With the South Carolina game again rolling around on Saturday, Steve Spurrier finds himself again as the topic of UK football conversation, giving Cats fans another way to re-live spoiled chances and tough losses. But, for me, it means that once again my family drums up an old column to harass me endlessly. We posted this here last year prior to the Gamecock game, so it seems like it’s only fair to do so again this year, especially given what seems to be a rise in the anti-Rich sentiment. This column was published in the Kentucky Kernel on December 5, 2003 and could possibly be the worst thing to ever be printed in UK’s school paper. Enjoy.

I’m a native Texan. And as most people know, we take our football very seriously. It’s time that UK did the same. That’s why we need to hire Steve Spurrier.

OK, OK, calm down and take a breath. Go ahead and re-read the line above. Yes, it says UK should hire Steve Spurrier. The same Steve Spurrier who coached the hated Gators to seven consecutive victories over our beloved Cats. It’s time for the Cats to realize that they can’t beat ’em, so they might as well join ’em.

Sure, there are a few minor complications with bringing Spurrier to Lexington, the first being that we just hired a new head coach last year. But let’s face it. Is Rich Brooks really a long-term solution to the UK football epidemic?

At 61 years old, Brooks was obviously not hired to lead the Cats for too long, and it’s no secret that he was not Mitch Barnhart’s first choice.

Brooks has had trouble adjusting his coaching style and playbook to the talent on the UK team. Is it really necessary for any UK fan to have to watch Jared Lorenzen run the option? Shouldn’t there be some kind of law against 300-pounders relying on their speed and quickness?

Saying Rich Brooks is not a good coach is an unfair statement, but it would be fair to say that he is all wrong for our program. Kentucky has recruited players for a certain system, and it’s not the one Brooks and offensive coordinator Ron Hudson have in place. Do fans really need to suffer through another three or four years of mediocrity until players are in place to produce in their system?

If Spurrier came to Lexington, Commonwealth Stadium would be raining footballs immediately.

That is the style of football that the players came to UK to play. It’s the style that fickle UK fans expect to see. In my short time living in Kentucky, I have noticed that UK fans not only want things to be done their way, as evidenced by all of the “Tubby should be more like Pitino” comments, but they want everyone else to envy the way they do it.

Spurrier would provide that much-needed reassurance, allowing stubborn fans to sleep at night. It’s hard to think of another coach who could generate as much instant enthusiasm for football in this town as Spurrier. Remember how much buzz and excitement was generated last spring with all of the “Parcells to UK” rumors? Spurrier is on the same level of Bill Parcells when it comes to giving a below-average program instant credibility. Perhaps the most important reason Spurrier needs to come to Lexington is because we need to keep the good players we have.

I don’t want to see Andre Woodson or Keenan Burton suiting up for another team, and that might be a realistic scenario if the team continues its mediocre ride.
These players came here to be part of the UK revival that was taking its first step last year, not to be mired in four or five years of frustration. Just ask Jared Lorenzen how that feels.

And don’t assume that Spurrier would never consider taking the UK coaching job. Last time I checked, he was suffering through a miserable NFL season where he was being criticized and his “genius offensive mind” was being doubted. UK could do wonders for his bruised ego.

Oh yeah, then there is that whole money issue. Mitch Barnhart did not want to pay Guy Morriss what he was offered by Baylor and Spurrier is sure to demand more if he is going to come here. Just pay him. If it has to be the biggest contract in the history of sports, pay the man.

With apologies to MasterCard, one thing we have learned from the whole Guy Morriss situation is that there are some things money can buy: success, and perhaps stability for an underachieving football program. The University of Kentucky can build all of the recruiting centers it wants, but if they want to have a successful program, it all starts with the man at the top. And for UK’s sake, that man should be Spurrier.

So, we can basically take two things away from this. One, Rich Brooks has certainly proven me wrong. Two, someone should have advised me to try the business school because my future in writing wasn’t too bright. But, I think we can ask ourselves an interesting question based off of this. Who is getting more out of their coaching legend: UK or USC?  As of now, it might be closer than you actually think. 

Obviously, less than a year after this was written, Spurrier was hired by the Gamecocks and they were anointed as the next force to be reckoned with on the field and the recruiting trail. Meanwhile, Brooks was still fighting a battle with the fans in Lexington, many of whom wanted him out. However, UK’s football revival started a year after Spurrier’s hiring and the numbers of the two coaching legends are strikingly similar.


In the four full seasons that they’ve both held their jobs, Spurrier’s record (28-22) is only slightly better than Rich Brooks’ (26-24) and his bowl record (1-2) pales in comparison (3-0). Then, when you remove the first year where Brooks’ team tanked with a 3-8 record (for no other reason than because it makes the stats better), Rich Brooks actually has a better record (23-16) than does Spurrier (21-17).  This, of course, means that Rich Brooks is the greatest coach in the history of college football and is The Real Old Ball Coach.

There are certainly other factors in play with these numbers, but I think they still serve as an indicator of the job Rich Brooks has done.  For those of you ready to boot Brooks and usher in a “big name” of which the program likely wouldn’t pull anyway, maybe it’s time to think again.  One middle-of-the-road SEC team brought in a big name and certain Hall of Famer and, as you can see, his tenure is just about the same as the Hall of Famer that some don’t think is good enough.  Hmmm.

Go Cats. Go Rich Brooks.

Article written by Thomas Beisner