Nearly a week later and I’m still wrapping my head around the 50,000+ Big Blue butts packed into Commonwealth last weekend for the Blue/White Game. Fiddy-k, for a spring football game in Lexington, on a hard turn off the Bluegrass Stakes, not to mention what went down the last time we gathered here.
It was a dreary, cold, desolate scene at Commonwealth last November. Rain turning to sleet, sleet turning to rain, life turning to shit. Even the trusty soft pretzels were underperforming.
Touchdown Vanderbilt. Why was I here? Touchdown Vanderbilt. I pulled out a beer that I hadn’t bothered to hide and security hadn’t bothered to notice. I’d have happily said “screw it,” and returned to warm confines if they had, because this wasn’t going down sober.
At the end of the first quarter I’d seen enough. My ass was chapped both literally and figuratively (a particularly ruthless combo), and I walk-of-shamed it out of the Commonwealth like I had for every game that season–with more cups than I came with vowing never to return again. It was the lowpoint from a program swallowed by a sinkhole, cursed by the Bear.
So when, not 4 months later, the sun shined bright on 50k strong, it truly was an unimaginable sight. It reminded me of the whole Gillispie debacle/Cal miracle–the one where Mike Porter walks into a phone booth and in an instant, emerges as John Wall. Just an immediate injection of all things right.
Really, how’d they pull it off? Clean weather, yes, aggressive marketing campaign centered on the breath of fresh air to an asphyxiated fan base, absolutely. The uptick in recruiting, a winning last name behind the wheel saying all the right words…but fiddy-k?
Enter Neal Brown and Air Raid 2.0.
We Cayuts fayuns need to hear the words “up-tempo” like a woman needs “love.” For one, It’s in the DNA of our basketball program, and you’ll never convince me the sport should be played any other way. Tubby’s annual off-season up-tempo decree was obviously dangerous tact. If you promise it and don’t deliver it, well, passive aggressive BBN evolves into something real. And irrational. Downright spiteful. And crazy. So, so crazy.
Yes, all Fans want to win. That’s why we’re here. Dubyas. Even at the expense of style points, if need be. But is winning ugly sustainable this day and age?
Here in the BBN, I’m not sure. Winning be damned, deep down we’re all hankerin’ for FAST PACE! We breed it into our thoroughbreds, we shop at Wal-Mart riding electric buggies, we do really dumb stuff on ATV’s, because fast is better than slow.
If a fellow fan in your office is having a bad day, press em. Guard em for 90 feet then come down and hoist up a threeeeeee. Or, chuck the pigskin around 60 times, but don’t forget about that deep ball. And offer ’em half your Cymbalta, I know you got some.
Would 50,000 have shown up if we’d hired Butch Jones? Good coach, not sexy.
We hold special reverence for Pitino’s Bombinos–not just because they were out-sized and undermanned and hailed from the same towns and hollers as our kinfolk–it was the way they scrapped and clawed, pressed and gunned their way to nearly 90 points per game. They won half of them.
Hey, remember the 1999-2000 team that won 23 games?
Before the hammer dropped, Hal Mumme might as well of been Bill Walsh. The salad days of 4-6 wins a year with Big Ten basketball scores and fun-in-the-sun screen n’ gun. Fake punts on 4th down inside your own 20? Oh, that’s just Hal bein Hal! Free endzone passes just to get the ball back? It’s Air Raid bitch.
THE GUY GOT HIS OWN STREET! Hal Mumme got a street named after him folks, a distinction he shared with the likes of Martha Lane Collins, Isaac Murphy, Henry Clay and Jalen Rose.
Where’s this all going you asked like six paragraphs ago? This may seem obvious, but isn’t that the point? What is the point? Exactly. We want fast-paced football just like we want up-tempo basketball. And there’s plenty of BIG DATA supporting the argument that Kentucky needs fast break football to have a puncher’s chance year in and year out.
And that’s why last weekend 50,000 of us quit life to watch a scrimmage. To hear that Air Raid siren again. To taste the salty softness of the rejuvenated jumbo pretzel. To believe in football, to believe in ourselves. Look, we’re not kidding each other. Odds are certainly stacked against a sterling record in the near future, but the Air Raid…the Air Raid people, the Air Raid.