We all know one of each, probably more.
There’s the overly-optimistic fan: that person who thinks Kentucky will win seven or eight games, every single year. While good people, they need to pump the brakes just a bit. Let’s be a little more realistic and cautious with our expectations. Love that attitude, though.
Then there’s the fan who expects the absolute worst, each and every year. They’re never happy. They predict three or four wins and think we’re wasting our time with Mark Stoops. Many of them think Mitch Barnhart should go, too. These people are terrible. Why follow at all if you’re going to be so grumpy all the time?
Of course, there are plenty of fans — the majority, actually — who fall somewhere in-between. I lean toward the optimist’s side, personally. I set the bar high each August, but know I will likely be disappointed in the end, while enjoying it all no matter what.
How about you? How do you feel this August? Are you still all-in with the process? Or are you too fed up with Kentucky’s history to get excited for another season?
Tonight I’ll give some of the current hot UK football topics followed by imaginary, slightly-exaggerated opinions from an optimistic and pessimistic fan. Then tell me which way you feel or lean.
Topic: Matt Elam’s weight loss
Optimist: “It’s great to hear Elam is taking his new role seriously; the team really needs him to be a run-stopper and stay on the field at nose tackle. If he can continue to shape his body and turn that bad weight into good weight, he will be a much more productive football player. It will show in his agility and endurance, which will in turn make him a better player. Love seeing that hard work and commitment going into his junior season. I expect big things from him if he maintains a good weight.”
Pessimist: “So what? He shouldn’t have been that out of shape in the first place. Hell, if he had gone down to Alabama, they would’ve whooped his ass into gear as a freshman and he’d be an All-SEC D-lineman right now. He hasn’t shown me anything at UK and until he does, I don’t want to hear about him losing a little bit of baby fat before his junior year.”
Topic: Drew Barker’s 67-70 completion percentage in live drills
Optimist: “Wow, that’s pretty good if he’s doing it against UK’s first-team secondary. Mark Stoops called that group the best he’s had since he’s been here, so if Barker is completing 70 percent against them, the passing game must be rolling. Can’t wait to see how he does in his first year as the guy.”
Topic: Wide receiver depth
Optimist: “This is the best receiving corps since I’ve been following. I saw the SEC Network name it the best in the SEC East. They’re big, athletic and they’ll push each other to perform. Lots of competition for looks. The Cats are going to score a lot of points if Barker can get them the ball.”
Pessimist: “What’s it matter? They can’t catch. Stoops could have Joe Montana under center and he wouldn’t complete a pass with the butterfingers we have out there.”
Optimist: “This group is so good and they’re only SOPHOMORES. The secondary is loaded with NFL talent and we’re going to see them in Lexington for at least two more seasons. Chris Westry is special. Mike Edwards is special. Derrick Baity isn’t far behind. So much talent back there!”
Pessimist: “Doesn’t matter how good they are without a front seven. Opposing quarterbacks will pick the DBs apart without pressure from the D.”
Topic: Eddie Gran
Optimist: “I love the hire and look forward to the offense under his direction. He and Stoops know each other well from their days at Florida State and Stoops trusts him, unlike his predecessor. I also like his strictly-business attitude and how he knows this conference from his time at Auburn, Ole Miss and Tennessee. I think he and Darin Hinshaw are just what this team needs. Great hires by Stoops. Can’t wait to see what they do with the talent.”
Pessimist: “Third O.C. in three years? What a joke. Stoops won’t give Gran the freedom to do what he wants. Even if he did, we’re talking about the guy who coached Cincinnati’s offense to seven points in the Hawaii bowl last year.”
Topic: Mark Stoops
Optimist: “He will get us there in time. Football takes five or six years to turn a bad program around and he inherited a very bad program from Joker Phillips. Look what he’s done with the facilities and in recruiting. He’s signed some of the best classes in school history and there’s more talent and depth across the board. Be patient and keep supporting him. We’re on the right track. Give him time.”
Pessimist: “I’m tired of hearing about all these good recruits we’re getting when Mark Stoops hasn’t shown me anything on the field. He has more contract extensions than bowl appearances. With the way they finish each year and with some of the close games they’ve lost, I just don’t think he’s the guy. Vanderbilt and Louisville did it for me last year. Mitch’ll probably give him another raise this year for beating Austin Peay.”
Topic: Bowl Game
Optimist: “I think this is the year we get back to a bowl. The team will be much better and I think they’ll win the three non-conference games plus South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Missouri to reach six wins, maybe seven with a win over Mississippi State. Three of those four teams are way down this year; the other, Vanderbilt, is a home game that UK should be favored in. This is the year the Cats get over the hump.”
Pessimist: “They’ll win four games at best. They’ll be lucky to win a conference game this year. They might lose the first game to Southern Miss.”
If you’re a pessimist, drink some bourbon and it’ll all be okay.