As a UK fan, I have three all-time favorite players: Derrick Ramsey, Bill Ransdell, and Tim Couch. With these fellow has-beens, K-Club conversations can be awkward. During alumni functions, I’m torn between asking about their families and requesting an autograph.
Generationally separated, I hold the quarterback trio in high regard. Growing up in the 70’s, Derrick Ramsey was my first sports hero. For two seasons, I literally scored his autograph after every home game. I would fist fight coal camp kids to be number 12 in sand-lot football games. Bill Ransdell is arguably the toughest Wildcat to ever tattoo a Power K on his calf. How tough? Legend has it that Dollar Bill played against Clemson with a broken jaw and a punctured lung. And won. Then, along came Tim Couch.
Not since Harlan’s Wah Wah Jones had a mountain athlete generated such buzz. From London to Pikeville, the Leslie County star captured the region’s headlines and imagination. As a quarterback, Couch revolutionized the position by breaking nearly every state and national passing record. On the basketball court, he averaged over 30 points a game. The legend of The Deuce stood taller than the mountains he called home. On any given fall Friday, it was common to see a Bowden in the Hyden Hardee’s drive-thru. Phil Fulmer earned a ton of frequent driver points from his recurrent trips down the road that is now appropriately named Tim Couch Pass. At the time, Bill Curry’s seat was hot. A year later and an irrational Couch option play into the boundary, his toasty seat exited the Nutter Center. Here are Tim’s words on why he chose to stay home and sign with the University of Kentucky.
Q: You were offered my several traditional football powers. Which teams made the final cut?
Couch: I was fortunate enough to be recruited by numerous schools and heavily considered several of them: Tennessee, Florida, Auburn and Ohio State. Initially I verbally committed to Tennessee and ended up backing out on the last minute and signed with Kentucky.
Q: At that time, the Cats were struggling. With all those options, why did you sign with Kentucky?
Couch: I signed with Kentucky mainly because it was my home state school. My dad really pushed me to come to Kentucky. He was a huge Kentucky fan and a big part of me playing here was because I wanted to do that for him.
Q: Going into Stoop’s third year, tell us your thoughts on Kentucky Football in 2015.
Couch: I think the football program is at an all-time high right now. It’s been tremendous to watch Coach Stoops and his staff change the culture of this program in such a short period time. It’s not resulting in a ton of wins on the field as of yet, but those are soon to come. The commitment the University has made to the football program with the upgrades in our facilities and with the stadium and the level that Coach Stoops and his staff has been recruiting at, it will eventually result in wins on the field. The future of Kentucky football is going to be very exciting to watch. I don’t think there could be a better fit for this program right now then Coach Stoops.
Q: You are a Kentucky legend and provided the BBN with so many great memories. What is your personal favorite?
Couch: I think my best UK memory would have to be our victory over Alabama in 1997. I was fortunate enough to throw Craig Yeast the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime to beat Alabama. Our fans rushed the field and tore the goalposts down. It was one of those moments that you live for as a college quarterback.
Imagine if Tim Couch would have turned his back on his home state and signed with Tennessee. The legend of Tim’s Kentucky escape would be mentioned in the same lore as Bear Bryant’s cigarette lighter. I’m glad he stayed home.