As a native Houstonian, I’m stunned that U of H won a nationally televised game against a nationally renowned program. However, I get the feeling no one here is too surprised by what happened to Kentucky last night. Losing by 14 after being down by over 20 at various points? Ouch, man.
Well, I live in Durham now, and I went to grad school at UNC for a couple of years. Got here in ’03, Roy’s first year back in Chapel Hill. When I got here, people still talked about the 2001-02 season with a special sort of depression. The only thing–they never called it “’02” or anything like that. They called–and continue to call–that season “8-20.”
8-20 started with a home loss to Hampton. Next came a loss to Davidson and another to Indiana. The most depressing moment of the year wasn’t a loss, though. It was a win against Binghamton, which was immortalized by the sight of Jason Capel celebrating this one-point victory like he just got Beyonce’s phone number.
Kentucky didn’t string three early losses together, but the similarites are hard to avoid. Gardner-Webb is Hampton. There’s a loss to Indiana.Like Billy Gillipsie this year, Matt Doherty that year was hamstrung by the recruiting weaknesses of the previous regime. Like that Carolina team, this Kentucky team has a good recruiting class that can’t fix things right away (however, that Carolina class didn’t have a Patrick Patterson). And, like that Carolina team, it doesn’t look like things are going to get any better for this Kentucky team.
Further similarities–a coach that wasn’t the first choice, at least one documented example of player discontent and….
…a 4-5 record after nine games.
This isn’t a scientific comparison by any means. However, this sort of season isn’t terribly unprecedented. In fact, it looks kinda familiar.
In other words, things can, in fact, get worse. Gillispie is a better coach than Doherty–and has to be a more likable guy, unless he fights dogs with Michael Vick and hunts with Bobby Knight)–but we’re gonna have to see how he handle this season. The wheels could easily come off.
Lucky for Gillispie, I doubt he’ll cause a mutiny like Doherty did in 2003. But he could easily lose 20 games.
Oh, and one deviation from the comparison–Carolina didn’t have an early-season loss as unconscionable as the blowout to Houston. The only explanation–this is karma paying Kentucky back for having an uncharacteristically good football team. The universe seems to be balanced like that.