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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: The 4 Ways to Improve a Football Program


THIS IS THE PROGRAM WE SHOULD BUILD OUR PROGRAM LIKE

How do we make Kentucky a serious college football contender?  Is it possible at all?  I think it’s very possible at Kentucky.  But, I think the current sports fanbase is far too impatient.  I get the sense people think the program can be turned around in 2-3 years.  I am here to argue that it will take AT LEAST 5 years to make this happen.  But, if run correctly, Kentucky can set the foundation to be a consistent SEC power.  Below, I give the 4 things that make a college football program great.  Some top programs are not excellent in every area, but they are in most.

1) Exciting or Reputable Head Coach

-To be a top tier college football program, you almost always have to have a head coach that either brings a great amount of excitement to the table or has the results to bring a credibility to the program.  A guy like Kevin Sumlin brings an exciting personality to a program, which is attractive to recruits.  A guy like Mark Richt or Nick Saban brings results to the table.  If your coach does not excite the fanbase and doesn’t really have the resume, then he can be the Jesus of Coaching but players have no reason to play for him.

Kentucky’s Standard: Joker Phillips never had the personality to be a first time head coach at an SEC school.  He didn’t bring any head coaching results to the table and wasn’t a big enough personality to draw recruits to the school.  And then when the program began declining, he didn’t have the personality to keep the fans interested.  That is what Hal Mumme did.  People forget Mumme had a couple pretty poor seasons, but fans were still attracted to his ways and coaching style and still supported the program.  Mark Stoops’ jury is still out.  He seems to have more personality than Joker and the recruiting has certainly picked up.  We’ll see if that translates to results.
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2) Consistency at the Coordinators

-It is always a bonus if a head coach can keep his top assistants.  Sometimes assistants do so well, they have to leave to take head coaching positions.  But, when a program can keep consistent figures leading the program, the players have a better, and more confident, comfort level.  In Steve Kragthorpe’s 3 seasons at Louisville, he had 3 offensive coordinators and 3 defensive coordinators.  How did that turn out?  Florida’s offense has not been the same since Dan Mullen left.  The list goes on and on.  It’s not always the head coach that makes the program.  In many cases it’s the assistants.

Kentucky’s Standards: During the Rich Brooks’ 4 bowl seasons, he had 1 offensive coordinator (Joker) and 1 defensive coordinator (Steve Brown).  I firmly believe this was a HUGE reason Kentucky was able to take a step up.  Joker was able to keep Randy Sanders for his 3 seasons, but he had 2 different defensive coordinators the first year and then brought Rick Minter in for final 2 years.  Mark Stoops will bring back Neal Brown and DJ Eliot for a 2nd straight year, so we’ll see if success pushes those guys out or keeps them here.
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3) Recruiting Advantages and Location

-Not going to rehash this from yesterday, but the schools in the south, Texas, and California have advantages.  They just do.  Despite what some may argue, most kids like to stay within a short distance from home.  Thus, the Texas and Florida’s of the world don’t have to travel too much to find enough elite kids.

Kentucky’s Standards: No school in the SEC has more recruiting disadvantages than Kentucky.  Not only is the in-state recruiting not great, but the states around Kentucky with talent (Ohio and Virginia in particular) are dominated by national powers.  There is really nowhere for Kentucky to dominate except for the state of Kentucky, and that’s not enough.  Stoops is recruiting at a level probably not seen at Kentucky and that bodes well for eliminating those recruiting disadvantages.  BUT, eventually the Cats will have to start winning games or Stoops won’t be able to steal players from football rich states.
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4) Money

-You have to spend serious money to win in football, both in recruiting and in facilities.  The SEC has proven this more than any in the country.  Do a quick search of top college football facilities, and 3 schools show up continuously: LSU, Florida, Oregon.  Top level facilities obviously attract top recruits, and personally, I think a player’s mental state can also be so much better when walking into a top-class training facility or stadium.  Remember the HUGE billboard in NYC of Joey Harrington from Oregon.  That cost a ton of money, I am sure.  It also raised the profile of Oregon.

Kentucky’s Standards:  Kentucky is doing things to fix some of the money issues they have had in the past.  They are updating Commonwealth Stadium, which is far overdue.  They are taking a greater looked at advertising, as shown by their local Super Bowl ad.  But the spending overall on football is still the bottom half of the league and Mark Stoops is last in salary in the league.  So there is still room for improvement.
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It took Frank Beamer 7 years at Virginia Tech to win 9 games in a season.  By his 13th season, he was in the national championship game.  He has had 12, 10-win seasons since that first breakthrough season in Year 7.  I think this is the perfect blueprint on how to build a program.  It required patience from the fanbase.  It required a dedication to make it work by the athletic department.  And it took a singular coach to commit himself to that program.  Here is to hoping Kentucky finds a way to make it happen.  I, for one, am tired of seeing the ship sail past us.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

28 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: The 4 Ways to Improve a Football Program



  1. 2mites
    9:48 am July 21, 2014 Permalink

    This seems to be a well thought out post. UK fans are impatient but with the mess that joker left this program in the fan base needs to be patient. I said that when joker left that it would take 4 or 5 years to get a winning program back at UK. Stoops has done the best recruiting job ever and looks to me to be on track to start winning serious games by year 4 at the latest. Of course that depends on his staff too. Neal Brown was less than impressive the first year and his stubborn use of Whitlow confounded me to no end. The defense was not terrible the first year but improvement has to be made to see how Eliot pans out. The elements are here for a good start at rebuilding and Stoops has that football coach look to him, I think that Brooks had when he came here. He is a winner and a terrific hire if the fans will give him time to do his job.



    • Reality
      11:12 am July 21, 2014 Permalink

      Brown had nothing to work with in year one, when Smith was injured they basically tossed Whitlow under the bus at QB to preserve Towles’ and Phillips’ red shirts. It was the equivalent of trying to build a new shed with a flat head screwdriver, phillips screws, and your dominant arm tied to your opposite ankle.



  2. Tom
    9:50 am July 21, 2014 Permalink

    Did our athletic director seek out an exciting or reputable coach? Stoops’ hire was the second hire in the nation that year. Was there time to seek others? Finding a football coach for Kentucky isn’t going to be an easy task. BUT we do not have to hurry and get it over as Barnhart seems to think. Reputable? See basketball coach.

    Recruiting area woes. If we had to ship recruits in in a horse and buggy, maybe. Planes make travel a different story. Does Vanderbilt’s roster have all Tennessee boys? Who’s Vanderbilt. See past three years. How about the big bad Western Kentucky Hilltoppers? See past two years. Check their roster.

    Money. Did Stoops not receive a raise after going 2-10? Why? Heck. why not. A raise for recruiting wishes and hopes. We didn’t beat a team that had a division one win last year.

    Coordinators? Did you see that our former offensive coordinator happens to be the quarterback coach at Florida State? Coached the Heisman Trophy winner. BUT we now have an offensive coordinator who coached Mike Leach’s recruits at Texas Tech. It’s five weeks away from the opener and we get the news he’s going back to the basics with our QBs. Makes you feels all warm and fuzzy don’t it?

    All this advertising, promos, wanting to find a tradition, exciting music to pump of the players and crowd,

    The only tradition we need to work one is winning. You could play ‘Little Bo Peep’ and the crowd would go wild if we were winning.

    One thing we aren’t short on is excuses.



    • Casper
      10:18 am July 21, 2014 Permalink

      Awesome honesty.



    • Jerry
      10:28 am July 21, 2014 Permalink

      It isn’t awesome honesty. It is pissy bitching brought to you by a proud, card carrying member of the Fellowship of the Miserable. This wonderful wing of BBN isn’t happy unless it isn’t happy. Note that they never give up their season tickets as they can’t risk missing out on an opportunity to exploit a bad play from their “favorite” team by grousing as loudly and obnoxiously as possible for all to hear. No one likes them and sure as shite no one wants to sit next to them. The only satisfaction for actual Cats fans is in the fact that the lives of FOM members are indeed miserable.



    • theWilkman
      10:37 am July 21, 2014 Permalink

      Do you really think we can just flip the switch and win 10+ games in one season? The “WIN GAMES, STOOPS!” fans like you show how little you know about football when you post garbage like this. Obviously winning games brings success, but this is SEC football, there are so many factors that go into building a successful program it is impossible to turn it around overnight. And before you start spouting off examples of programs you think prove your point, know that each situation is completely different. We’ve had a long history of losing here, and it’s completely unreasonable to expect a huge turn around in 1-2 seasons. Even Nick Saban would need a couple of years here to turn it around.

      BTI does a solid job of showing what UK specifically needs to do to build a program. If we get the buy-in from the university, the commitment from the coaches, and continue the recruiting momentum, there’s a good shot we could build a respectable program.

      Or we could just call for Stoops and Co.’s heads after a couple of rebuilding seaons.



    • Dude
      10:38 am July 21, 2014 Permalink

      Jerry for the m0ther#ucking win!



  3. jimlowe7
    9:58 am July 21, 2014 Permalink

    BTI…you are always crazy, but you hit the depths this time!



  4. dodger1
    10:06 am July 21, 2014 Permalink

    you don’t have a clue!



  5. Tyron45
    10:10 am July 21, 2014 Permalink

    “THIS IS THE PROGRAM WE SHOULD BUILD OUR PROGRAM LIKE”…………..grammer much ?



    • Reality
      12:25 pm July 21, 2014 Permalink

      Spell-check much?



  6. David
    10:24 am July 21, 2014 Permalink

    I found the article to be depressing as hell. I see so much more in this coach and the players he has recruited, since coach has arrived we have been heading in the right direction. I see money going into the facilities and that is only going to help as it has with Tennessee’s recruiting. I am glad to have backed Kentucky football for the last 16 years and I am looking forward watching them compete in the next few years and to make doubter’s believers. I donate to Kentucky Football because I BELIEVE that one day we can compete in the SEC if we can change the hearts and minds of some of our fans and get them to back the team with their money like regular football ticket holders do we can change the SEC after all we have the best fan base in the world. I bleed blue and will to the day I die.



    • Reality
      11:25 am July 21, 2014 Permalink

      Why depressing? BTI (who still sucks, but wrote a good piece for today) is showing what recently successful programs have consistently done to get there, and UK is taking steps in the right direction to join them.

      I’m encouraged by the patience the fan base showed last year, but we need to remember that it took Brooks a couple of years to get some momentum going. People were calling for Brooks’ job after year 2, and year 4 was the breakout season where we started winning 7-8 games per year. If Brooks hadn’t retired and handed the keys off to Joker (who promptly ran the team straight into a ditch) we might be at around the same level that Duke has risen to under Cutcliffe.



    • Real baloney
      11:48 am July 21, 2014 Permalink

      Year 4 of Brooks was a “breakout season”? Lol, he went 8-16 in the SEC in years 5 thru 8. Truth is, if it weren’t for Kragthorpe at UofL from 2007-09, then you could likely forget about the last 2 bowls Brooks took us to. Yes, we were more competitive, but geez “breakout season”?

      Brooks didn’t so much retire as he had the good sense to walk away. I know for a fact he looked at his roster and knew what was coming the next 2-3 years. Also, he grew disillusioned with the lack of support, lack of facilities, and lack of money. You are wrong…if Brooks had stayed the record would have been similar to Joker’s.

      I hope Stoops can do it, but he is not “rebuilding” anything. He is just building.



    • Reality
      12:29 pm July 21, 2014 Permalink

      Compared to 4-8, 2-10, and 3-9 in the first 3 seasons 8-5 is a revelation of biblical proportions.



  7. I Sayy
    12:51 pm July 21, 2014 Permalink

    I had this same conversation with my friend yesterday. I said we should model the program to be more like Oregon.



  8. Tom
    12:56 pm July 21, 2014 Permalink

    I love to see the young blood back Barnhart. I’ve had season tickets since CWS opened. My family at Stoll Field sonce the 1940’s.
    What has Mitch done to take a big step to improve Kentucky Football? New paint, new scoreboard, mew uniforms, hired the little bother of a sucessful football coach, downsized the stadium, new turf next year. Every heard of Don Shula? How did his son do at Alabama? Why didn’t we hire Herky Rupp? Maybe be because the powers to be actually wanted to win. Review the story how Barnhart actually ended up with Brooks. See Brooks’s record before they started the 12 game schedule. See Mitch’s next football hire. How did that go? I know Stoops called and said he wanted the job. That enough should make him the winner don’t you think?

    I love it when so called fans name call. Sorta immediately labels them an authority don’t don’t ya think. Actually it shows they don’t have a come back that they can backup. Calling others Louisville fans if they don’t agree with other’s comment. That’s always been a conversation stopper.

    Just because someone is tired of seeing football treated like a red headed step child, my apoliges to all you red heads out there, tied of waiting for other programs to fail so we can catch up, making every excuse thinkable to defend out lack of commitment to the cash cow of athletics, yep I think we could do better.

    So, show you knowledge, stop the name calling, and either show you’re reasoning with facts, or maybe your the Louisville fan after all.



    • Jerry
      1:51 pm July 21, 2014 Permalink

      A – No one accused you of being a Louisville fan. Something Freudian about your bizarre defensiveness perhaps?
      B – Speaking of Louisville Bobby Petrino already took that job so you can let that go.
      C – True to form for a member of the Fellowship of the Miserable you’ve “enjoyed” season tickets since right around the Roosevelt administration. Obviously you despise the product after all these years. Why not let the tickets go so someone else can have a good time? You know, the person who buys the tickets and every poor sap that has to sit in your section.



    • DCS195
      2:31 pm July 21, 2014 Permalink

      OK, Tom. I just want to see your recipe for success at the level you expect (very high bar for immediate success) that Mitch should have followed when he hired Stoops. You can also add the coordinators that you would have brought to UK and any other elements that you would have included to bring such surefire, noway it can fail wins in college football in the SEC. It’s really easy for those without a plan lambast a plan that is in place and making some progress. But without specifics all it is, is a bunch of words. Give us the specifics of who needs to be hired, what needs to done for this instant success that you speak of, that’s so easy to accomplish and that everyone else has missed. The specifics?



    • Tampa Satchel
      1:56 pm July 22, 2014 Permalink

      DCS- Not unlike the GOP.



  9. WahooWildcat
    3:41 pm July 21, 2014 Permalink

    1) “THIS IS THE PROGRAM WE SHOULD BUILD OUR PROGRAM LIKE”

    Apparently you would also like to model your grammar after Virginia Tech fans.

    2) How many national championships does Va Tech have?

    Exactly.



  10. VTfball
    4:29 pm July 21, 2014 Permalink

    WahooWildcat: Before you make false claims about Virginia Tech and VT fans do some research you hill-billy

    Virginia Tech Incoming Freshman GPA 3.8 University of Kentucky: 3.4
    College Ranking: VT #69 UK#119

    Hell the only reason I went to UK was because I did not have the grades for VT.



    • WahooWildcat
      1:38 pm July 23, 2014 Permalink

      Clarification: While I was born and raised a Kentucky fan, I went to UVA– Virginia Tech is our rival school.



  11. VTfball
    4:37 pm July 21, 2014 Permalink

    WildcatWahoo

    Also, UK conference championships 2 Virginia Tech 10

    VT draft picks since Beamer 90 UK 106 EVER

    you would be lucky if your program ever resembled VT, and good luck winning a National Championship in a League where LSU, BAMA, TEX A&M, Georgia and South Carolina reside. If UK wants a program they can potentially aspire to be they best pick one that is not as established as VT



  12. rockatao
    4:48 pm July 21, 2014 Permalink

    the state of Virginia, particularly the Tidewater area, produces tons of football talent every year and Va Tech owns the state of Virginia — there are over 80 players on the Tech roster from Virginia. Kentucky does not have that luxury and probably never will.



  13. Tom
    6:27 pm July 21, 2014 Permalink

    It’s been thirty five years sinve Kentucky has had a winning record in SEC play.
    35!

    Wonder how many posters on here are that age or older.

    Wishin’ and hopin’.

    Yep, that’l make us a winner



  14. UkFan
    8:33 pm July 21, 2014 Permalink

    You wanna know how to improve UK football? First off, play it indoor on a hardwood court, w/ a bouncy round ball and 10 ft hoops. Then UK would dominate!



  15. Tom
    9:28 am July 22, 2014 Permalink

    DCS, we lost to Tennessee on Nov 24, Stoops was hired on Nov 27. Later hires with head coaches filling the openings happened at Tennessee, Cincinnati,Arkansas and Louisville. These coaches had staffs to go with them, not start from scratch. Didn’t have to start over like we did.
    How did SPURRIER end up at South Carolina? Hesaid he was out of a job and South Carolina was the only one who called. Imagine that. 33 wins in the last three years.
    Tell me why your satiisfied with the status quo.
    Is Stoops the answer? Who knows but we are satisfied with him to the level of giving him another million because of his recruiting. We haven’t seen any results from said recruiting, but that’s OK isn’t it?
    Keep wishin’ and hopin’. And don’t forget the excuses.
    Now we see Stoops isn’t going to the Governor’s Cup event. Isn’t that for charity?
    So what if the game isn’t until November. It’s a tradition.
    Charity, you know money going to a helping others.
    Maybe Mitch sould show we still care about the event, donate a million to it, and send the basebal and riflle coaches.
    Kentucky football hasn’t reached the stage we can’t use every opportunity to promote the program.