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This year’s Kentucky football team is eerily stacking up with Rich Brooks’ 2006 team…

After Austin MacGinnis drilled the game winning FG to defeat Mississippi State on Saturday, optimism throughout the Big Blue Nation soared. The Wildcats had moved to 4-3 on the season and 2nd overall in the SEC East, with bowl hopes looking as alive and well as ever.

In the comment section following Freddie’s game breakdown yesterday, a fan (Duuuuuude, to be exact) mentioned it was “starting to feel a lot like the 2006 football season when Rich Brooks had his breakthrough season.” It certainly sparked my interest, considering that era of players was one of my favorite in Kentucky football history, so I decided to look into it.

After taking a closer look, the situations are eerily similar…

When Rich Brooks first took over at Kentucky in 2003, there was quite an adjustment period. In his first three seasons, Brooks went 4-8, 2-9, 3-8, and then started out his fourth year 3-3.

Early in his fourth season, Kentucky fans came out with torches and pitchforks, selling “Ditch Rich” t-shirts out in the Commonwealth Stadium parking lot. It was an ugly time, and many believed Brooks was on his way out.

After a 49-0 beatdown on the road against LSU, instead of laying down flat and calling it a season, the Wildcats came out fired up and won four consecutive games. They started out with a 34-31 victory at Missississippi State, followed it up with a monumental win at home against Georgia, and continued with wins over Vanderbilt and Louisiana Monroe.

Kentucky finished 4-4 in conference play, and 3rd overall in the SEC East. The Wildcats earned a bowl bid to the Music City Bowl, where they took on Clemson, winning 28-20.

We saw guys like Andre Woodson, Jacob Tamme, Stevie Johnson, Myron Pryor, and Wesley Woodyard emerge as stars, who would later become pivotal in the years to follow.

You guys know the rest of that story. Brooks led the Wildcats to four of Kentucky’s 15 total bowls in program history, and retired into the sunset to play endless rounds of golf and tweet pictures you’ve been jealous of at one point or another. He was inducted into the UK Hall of Fame back in September, a well-deserved feat for a guy that flipped the program around following the Guy Morriss era.

Now let’s compare this to Mark Stoops’ career thus far in Lexington.

In his first three seasons, Mark Stoops finished with records of 2-10, 5-7, and 5-7, and then began his fourth season at 3-3.

After an atrocious start to the season, many called for Stoops’ job, with many believing a loss at home against South Carolina would lead to his immediate termination. Fans started a trend of calling into Stoops’ radio show on Monday afternoons and giving the head ball coach their own ideas as to who his replacement should be, all but requesting his resignation/termination. Kentucky then beat the Gamecocks, put up a solid fight on the road against Alabama, and then defeated Vandy and Mississippi State in back-to-back contests.

We’ve seen young guys such as Benny Snell, Derrick Baity, Jordan Jones, and Landon Young emerge into future stars, along with established veterans like Boom Williams and Mike Edwards take strides as team leaders. The running backs are putting up record numbers, a back-up quarterback has led the team to a 4-1 record since taking over, and the entire defense has found major success since Mark Stoops started calling the shots for the unit.  The turnaround has been remarkable.

So here we are. Kentucky is sitting at 4-3 on the year, along with 3-2 in the SEC. Winnable games against Missouri, Georgia, and Austin Peay lie ahead. You win each of those games, and the Wildcats finish 7-5 on the year, going 5-3 in conference play and a shot at one of the top two slots in the SEC East. Could major momentum help lead to upsets against Tennessee or Louisville? It’s not likely, but this recent success wasn’t extremely likely either.

Not many envisioned the season unfolding the way it has, but I’ll take it if it means UK participates in postseason action again.


Can UK finish the regular season 7-5 en-route to a bowl game, emulating Rich Brooks’ 2006 Kentucky team?



Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

13 Comments for This year’s Kentucky football team is eerily stacking up with Rich Brooks’ 2006 team…

  1. FBI Informant
    6:40 pm October 25, 2016 Permalink

    The turnaround has been remarkable?

    Temper the expectations here Jacky boy.

    While it is certainly been nice to win 3 SEC games, the SEC teams we have played are seriously i the dumps. I’ve never seen an easier schedule than the one that is currently being played. Besides Ba and Louisville it is seriously pathetic. I’m glad we’re “not worse” than these teams, but I’m also not naive enough to discount the fact that we’ve beaten 3 really pathetic SEC teams and done so with ALL OF THEM AT HOME.

    • runningunnin.454
      7:03 pm October 25, 2016 Permalink

      Still, we have been accustomed to losing to these same pathetic teams, including Vandy.
      I recall, in some circles, when Vandy and UK played, it was referred to as the “toilet bowl”, so….
      I’ll take this year’s record, and be happy about it.
      And, there has been obvious and consistent improvement with every game.

    • mrsaturdaypants
      8:30 pm October 25, 2016 Permalink

      It’s a pretty typical Kentucky schedule.

      The comparison was with 2006, when UK went 4-4 in the SEC, including home wins over 4-8 Vandy and 4-8 Mississippi and a road victory over 3-9 Mississippi State.

      That year we played #13 Louisville, #5 Florida, #14 LSU, and #19 Tennessee. This year we play #14 Florida, #1 Alabama, #18 Tennessee, and #5 Louisville.

      I agree that comparisons with 2006 are early. But if we beat Missouri and Georgia – a big if – it will be reasonable.

    • The REAL Billy Hill
      10:14 pm October 25, 2016 Permalink

      FBI Informant is a known UL troll.

      Do not engage in conversation with this slack-jawed, booger-eating moron.

    • UK Big Board Update
      10:22 pm October 25, 2016 Permalink

      I’ll just leave this here…..

      FBI Informant August 8, 2016 at 2:53 pm | Permalink | Reply
      Like It (0)
      Anyone that thinks 7 wins was going to happen is absolutely out of their freakin mind, over the top, blinders on.

      This team is a 3-4 win team against this schedule.

      The only wins are:
      NM St
      Austin Peay
      Possible wins:
      Southern Miss
      South Carolina

      The rest are absolute losses with no questions about it whatsoever.

      And if there are a couple of injuries at certain spots it’s gonna be a 2 win season.

      Kentucky football is in the dumpster.

      FBI Informant June 29, 2016 at 11:04 pm | Permalink | Reply
      Like It (0)
      I’m reaching? And UL isn’t my school. I’m a UK alum.

      FBI Informant December 8, 2015 at 1:32 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      You know what’s fun? When we post negative things about UL, knowing that UK has had their fair share of employees with run ins with the law, and UL fans are going to easily point all of them out with a 3sec Google search. It may be wise to not expose our own glass house.

      FBI Informant December 8, 2015 at 2:43 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Uk is my alma-mater.
      But I live in Louisville. Unfortunately my alma-mater has a sports fanbase where the vast majority never went to college and therefore cannot conseptualize the difference between sports and real-life.

      FBI Informant June 17, 2016 at 4:16 pm | Permalink
      Like It (1)
      Well, we know that the BOT at UL had many UK fans on it, including the person that was leaking info to Matt. Now Junior Bridgeman is in charge of the hiring of the new BOT. Junior will certainly be putting together an Athletics Friendly Board and I can’t imagine that being a big UK fan will be finding themselves as part of the group. You think Jurich has had power before? Just wait till he lobbies his people onto the BOT. Facilities and money for coaching is getting ready to go through the roof.

      FBI Informant June 24, 2016 at 1:47 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Why all the butthurt? Forde said Cal owned the draft, which is a huge deal for recruiting as was just stated. And then he simply made the true comment that owning draft day every single year doesn’t equate to National Championships. That’s a fact. Why are you all so sensitive about it?

      FBI Informant June 20, 2016 at 8:50 pm | Permalink
      Like It (1)
      Wait… Rick isn’t allowed to use plausible deniability but Calipari is? At UMass they were cheating on grades to keep guys eligible which is an on campus issue, had agents buying HOOKERS and jewelry and giving cash to Camby ON CAMPUS, at Memphis he had Roses brother ON THE PLANE right in front of his face, and they had players busted for PROSTITUTES, and they had players busted for starting riots, and they had players busted for drugs, and on and on and on and on and on. But now Cal is not the same guy that had banners removed at two places? I’m confused.

      FBI Informant May 31, 2016 at 5:20 pm | Permalink
      Like It (1)
      Look, another Pitino article, followed by awkward stalking story about eavesdropping on UL players at Foot Locker. Jeez this stuff makes UK fans look dumb. Seriously, who goes to Foot Locker since the Internet was invented?

      FBI Informant December 14, 2015 at 2:18 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      What did he say that was incorrect? Looks like his opinion is backed up by the facts surrounding Cal’s tenure at UMass. Like it or not, before he got to UK, Cal ran two completely rogue programs in UMass & Memphis. The amount of crime, NCAA issues, legal problems, drug problems, domestic abuse problems, etc, far outweighed the norm, and outshined the winning. Just bc it doesn’t appear that he runs the same type of program at UK, shouldn’t dismiss the pathetic programs that proceeded. Even our own Matt Jones called him out before the title game at Memphis, and he was completely justified in doing so.

  2. Dboyz85
    7:13 pm October 25, 2016 Permalink

    Bottom line is we are 4-3 and if we were 5-2 everyone would be going nuts. The So Miss game is the one that has everyone on the negative side. IT was the same stuff during Brooks time, and I remember that well. Then after Brooks was done he was talked about like GOD. He was a hell of a football coach who beat the teams he should and got a couple he shouldn’t have. He was in same boat as Stoops is in now at this point. A quick correction to the article, and I see these facts wrong all the time, that team in 06 did start 3-3, but were actually 3-4 after the LSU game. Then with win over Miss. St. went 4-4 and finished the year winning 5 of their last 6 with the lone loss being another they let slip away at UT. That team also had a bad Vandy team left on the schedule, La Monroe, and a beat up Georgia at home. Sadly, this team has Austin Peay at home and thats it. They have to beat a mediocre Missouri team or a n average Georgia team to go bowling.

    • Jack Pilgrim
      7:29 pm October 25, 2016 Permalink

      I only used the 3-3 for comparison sake with Stoops starting 3-3 this year. Brooks started 3-4 his fourth year, Stoops started out 4-3 this year, I just felt it was just another similarity that both started 3-3.

  3. runningunnin.454
    7:20 pm October 25, 2016 Permalink

    It has been worth the price of admission to watch MacGinnis kick, Jones wreak havoc all over the field, and Snell move the pile like a bulldozer.

  4. kybigblue
    7:38 pm October 25, 2016 Permalink

    Is third in 2006 the highest UK has finished in the SEC East?

  5. Duuuuuude
    9:40 pm October 25, 2016 Permalink

    I just read this and appreciate the shout out!

  6. Lintball420
    3:52 am October 26, 2016 Permalink

    One small correction, Jack. It was actually the Hal Mumme Debacle that Rich had to turn us around from. I, for one was actually enjoying the Guy Morris Era, He went from 2-9 in year 1 to 7-5 in year 2, and Baylor came along to leave us all wondering what might have benn…..

  7. BluKudzu
    6:56 am October 26, 2016 Permalink

    It took Stoops, a defensive genius, over 3 years to fix the defense.
    I am glad he finally did so. The team has gotten better because of it. We have a long way to go to be a great team, but this was a significant first step.
    If you recall, the Brooks loyalty to his OC, almost got him in deep stuff, and things did not change until he was forced to make the move.
    Perhaps, that parallel, can be drawn here.
    I doubt Stoops, would have survived another year, had he not made the move on defense.