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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: The Mitch Barnhart Tenure

Say what you want about some of the recent missteps of Mitch Barnhart, his 16 years as the athletic director of the University of Kentucky have been a very successful tenure.  When the biggest issues you can pinpoint about the guy’s almost two decades is what design is on the uniform and his stance on alcohol, you gotta feel lucky in most ways.  Hell, you could have had Tom Jurich and his personality and scandals.  Now, Mitch might not always have seem “connected” to the everyday fan like many would have hoped, but the products that have been put on the fields and courts in the past 16 years has been better in almost every sport than the 16 years that preceded it:

16 Years Before Barnhart: (409-130 Overall, 182-72 SEC)
-8 SEC Championships
-13 NCAA Tournament Berths
-4 Final Fours (2 National Titles)

16 Years Since Barnhart: (446-130 Overall, 204-67 SEC)
-8 SEC Championships
-14 NCAA Tournament Berths
-4 Final Fours (1 National Title)

16 Years Before Barnhart: (69-110-1 Overall, 32-84 SEC)
-3 Bowl Bids
-0 Bowl Wins

16 Years Since Barnhart: (83-109 Overall, 33-90 SEC)
-7 Bowls Bids
-3 Bowl Wins

16 Years Before Barnhart: (264-233 Overall, 62-131 SEC)
-0 SEC Championships
-3 NCAA Tournament Berths

16 Years Since Barnhart: (338-189 Overall, 134-108 SEC)
-1 SEC Championships
-9 NCAA Tournament Berths

16 Years Before Barnhart: (499-413-4 Overall, 185-253-2 SEC)
-0 SEC Championships
-2 NCAA Tournament Berths

16 Years Since Barnhart: (531-386-1 Overall, 206-266-1 SEC)
-1 SEC Championship
-5 NCAA Tournament Berths

SOFTBALL (1st season of program was 1997)
6 Years Before Barnhart: (140-226 Overall, 43-96 SEC)
-0 SEC Championships
-0 NCAA Tournament Berths

16 Years Since Barnhart: (460-409-1 Overall, 139-244 SEC)
-0 SEC Championships
-9 NCAA Tournament Berths (5 Super Regional Berths)
-1 College World Series Berth

16 years Before Barnhart: (303-211 Overall, 110-72 SEC)
-2 SEC Championships
-5 NCAA Tournament Berths

16 Years Since Barnhart: (332-165 Overall, 192-94 SEC)
-1 SEC Championships
-12 NCAA Tournament Berths

Article written by Bryan the Intern

16 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: The Mitch Barnhart Tenure

  1. Cmstew502
    10:33 am June 4, 2018 Permalink

    More like he benefited from the SEC network forming and the school getting millions just for being part of the SEC

    • mm40
      10:47 am June 4, 2018 Permalink

      He’s been here 16 years, the SEC Network is only 4 years old. The SEC has always made millions as a conference. Did he benefit from that, sure, but those 2 things are not the only reasons the athletic program is better. Are you saying the athletic program would be just as good without Barnhart because of the money the conference makes and the SEC Network? If you are, then that is very short sighted. Barnhart is not perfect, but you can’t deny that the overall athletic program is better than it was when he arrived. He has to get a large amount of credit for that.

    • Cmstew502
      11:37 am June 4, 2018 Permalink

      I’m saying he, like so many ADs across the country, have benefited from unprecedented amounts of money flowing into college athletics. I don’t think he’s a terrible AD but I totally disagree that he’s exceptional.

  2. chimichanga
    10:40 am June 4, 2018 Permalink

    I respect all that Barnhart has accomplished here, and I’m really not trying to rag on him. But the biggest criticism one could pinpoint would be Kentucky Football. We had a couple very nice seasons under Brooks, but outside of that little oasis we have ranged from mediocre to absolutely terrible.

    And I know Kentucky Football has been bad a long, long time well before his tenure, but let’s not pretend he’s righted the ship.

    • Rembrandt
      11:02 am June 4, 2018 Permalink

      You are blind.

    • foamfinger
      11:50 am June 4, 2018 Permalink

      You also forget that Barnhart hired Brooks and everybody hated Brooks and, by extension, Barnhart, during those first few seasons. All we wanted was bowl games and to be competitive, not necessarily East Champions, when Stoops was hired. And there have been some good competitive games these last few seasons.

    • chimichanga
      3:18 pm June 4, 2018 Permalink

      I specifically mentioned the Brooks years…so no, obviously I didn’t “forget”. Did you forget to read before you blurted out your kneejerk response?

      Please check out the W-L records and try to make the case that we are anything but mediocre at best, and often much worse.

  3. bigblue98
    10:42 am June 4, 2018 Permalink

    Appreciate the class with which Mitch leads the athletic programs. Integrity is vital to our success and never a worry on his watch. Keep up the good work!

  4. rdcore2
    11:10 am June 4, 2018 Permalink

    I don’t like logging on here to reply, I really don’t. But if you’re going to write nonsense to fill a page you might as well state a hard stance that’s true. Barnhart has been mediocre at best. In basketball it’s essentially a wash as we have more wins but 1 less title to show. In Football we have only 14 more wins in 16 seasons, that’s on average less than ONE a year. Which in pretty much any industry is called FLAT growth. More bowls you say? Well considering there were ONLY 19 bowl games in 1990 compared with 43 in 2017, sure I’d expect us by shear volume to make more. Don’t get me started on baseball… the college World Series only had 40 teams in 86’ and still as few as 48 by 99 up to its 64 team entry ever since. State relevant facts and don’t try to twist the numbers to beckon favor from the AD. The reality is we can and SHOULD expect better.

  5. Rembrandt
    11:14 am June 4, 2018 Permalink

    The kerfuffle over the SEC alcohol rule is laughable. The rule makes sense for public safety, because people who drink alcohol at conference functions then drive home under the influence. Don’t we already have enough intoxicated and distracted drivers on the roads? And what’s wrong with people who can’t enjoy attending a game without drinking alcohol? Complaining about this SEC rule in the context of an evaluation of Barnhart’s performance shows that the commenter is preoccupied with alcohol. It’s a conference rule. Barnhart didn’t make the rule. Barnhart has presided over a broad improvement in UK athletics. You wouldn’t know it by reading here, but our football team has back to back winning seasons for a change. It’s really sad that some people with computers can’t grasp this.

    • Kernel Sanders
      12:05 pm June 4, 2018 Permalink

      If you think prohibiting alcohol sales inside the stadium keeps drunk fans off the roads after games then I guess you haven’t been to many SEC games in the last 20 years or so. People drink alcohol at conference functions now and drive home drunk. They just drink their own alcohol, take it into the game, leave the game early to drink more before driving home and/or tailgate AGAIN after the game before driving home. I would bet selling alcohol would reduce that because they would likely close the concessions in the 3rd quarter and could possibly regulate consumption more than the way it is now. Nothing is wrong with attending games sober, obviously, but do you not notice how many drunks are there now with no sales allowed?

  6. SoCalCat
    11:30 am June 4, 2018 Permalink

    Ultimately, the Athletic Director has to be responsible for the student athlete first and from afar Mitch has been very successful. Unless the end-of-the-year Catspy event reviews are not a fair representation of the health of the each of the programs at UK, then it appears Mitch is providing a healthy experience for the student athletes.

  7. The Professor
    1:20 pm June 4, 2018 Permalink

    I think his tenure has been a mixed bag. He made the worst hire in school history, seemingly without vetting, in Billy Gillispie but followed it with a home run in Cal. When he took over, the SEC East was outstanding in football. It has slipped dramatically over the last several years but we are still 1-31 against TN and FL during his tenure. The main success has been that he started putting money in non-revenue producing sports because he has bonuses tied into their success. Most schools don’t spend much money on these sports because they are a drain on the finances. The cost of going to basketball and football games has risen dramatically to pay for these sports. For instance, we pay about $1 million to a women’s basketball coach when the team runs a deficit of over $1 million annually. I am not saying we shouldn’t do it this but it only happens at a few Big 5 conference schools who can pay for it through their boosters.

  8. makeitstop
    1:47 pm June 4, 2018 Permalink

    The data is pretty overwhelming, the basketball program, in great shape when he came bc of our history and the stewardship of CM and several years of Pitino, STILL increased its win total by 10% with no more losses, the football team is demonstrably better, winning 20% more games (even allowing for adding a 12th game, it’s basically an extra win every year plus the 12th game, leading to bowl eligibility, and the wins we never had in the preceding 16 years and women’s sports, baseball etc are ALL better, and apples to apples winning no less than 10% more than before, ofteuch more. The capital investment in improving facilities and the scandal free era make the past 16 years among the best in the University’s history. He’s gotten criticism for bad hires like Billy G and uniform choices a lot of people don’t like but give the man credit, it’s a long enough track record through several coaches that you can say he’s performed as well as 95% or more of the AD’s in the country. How many would u trade him for? I can’t think of many. Be glad we have him.

  9. michaelb
    5:42 pm June 4, 2018 Permalink

    I think Kentucky needs a new athletic director. I agree that Mitch has done a fantastic job the whole way . I don’t suspect his job is easy either , I know that it’s hard to please everyone & he feels a lot of pressure from all directions. The only spot I see that needs to be done a little bit diff is the relations with the modern fan. None of their needs are being met

  10. UKFootballYall
    7:37 pm June 4, 2018 Permalink

    Mitch is certainly a nice guy but that doesn’t necessarily make him a good AD. The hires made by an AD can go either way, of which his have primarily worked out OK. But AD decisions about facilities, fan experience, and prioritizing the students actually paying for their education is more objective. In those areas Mitch has been subpar at best and is very disconnected. Don’t agree? What do you suppose would happen to an AD at another SEC school if they grabbed a few bucks and changed the name of their stadium to Piggly Wiggly Field?! It simply wouldn’t happen, nor would any other AD spend millions on facility renovations without actually improving the experience for the fans or the students. Come on, a free slice of pizza at a volleyball match doesn’t make him a good AD. It’s time to expect more and hire someone that gets it, all of it.