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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: What is Missing?

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UK Athletics

UK won a football game by 36 points on Saturday.  That win got the Cats bowl eligibility, a great accomplishment for the Mark Stoops program.  As I said last week, no matter what happens in the Louisville game and the bowl game, this program has obviously progressed this season.  Mark Stoops job is secure.  The future appears, on paper, to be bright.  Nearly all the stars are back next year, the schedule gets easier, and we now have a coach in Year 5.  Every player on roster next year will be a Mark Stoops recruited player, the first time in his tenure that is true.

But the general atmosphere around the program just 3 weeks away from a rejuvenated fanbase is strange.  It’s not like fans think things are going bad, they aren’t.  We have some likeable players.  Benny Snell has the chance to become the most loved UK played since Randall Cobb.  Mark Stoops hasn’t been perfect with the fanbase but he’s a personable guy who seems to have a passion to make this thing work.  So the best way I can describe how the fans I know feel is this: SOMETHING IS MISSING.

To fall behind the worst UK opponent in history 13-0 on Senior Day is baffling.  The lack of improvement as the season went on in 2014 and 2015 and a sputtering last 3 weeks is concerning.  And while the individual pieces all seem to be there, I don’t get the sense that anybody is ALL-IN for this program ready to take the next step.  So, something is missing.  But what?  I honestly don’t know the answer but a couple potential options:

  1. COACHING: The coaching staff, not just Mark Stoops, hasn’t been the most stable group over this 4 year tenure.  Stoops has had a few missteps with the media.  His revolving door of offensive coordinators, especially the issues with Shannon Dawson, haven’t helped.  The “demotion” of DJ Eliot this season showed issues on that side of the ball.  We had a problem with the special teams coordinator.  The moving pieces and lack of stability has to be tough for the players.  But we also had what seemed to be an issue with halftime adjustments, although UK has had several big 2nd half performances in the last 7 weeks.  Then last week, the team clearly wasn’t ready to play, and that lies almost entirely at the coaches feet.
  2. PLAYER LEADERSHIP: Who is the leader of this team or has been the leader over the last couple years?  I’m not talking about captains, I am talking about LEADERS.  I don’t think a team with strong leaders falls behind 13-0 to Austin Peay.
  3. WINNING ATTITUDE: Nobody likes to lose or is trying to lose.  But some people can accept it better than others.  And frankly the great ones can’t accept it.  It absolutely eats them up.  Sometimes what makes an player with average talent become a great player is their competitiveness and hatred to lose.  Do we have those guys on this team?  Again, not arguing they don’t want to win but just how much do they hate losing?  This team has enough talent to win 8 games and be competitive in 11 games this season (sorry, but no Alabama).  So are they going to be pissed if they finish with 6 games.  Did they feel embarrassed about that 1st half performance?
  4. FANS: Are the fans actually a factor in this as Mark Stoops has suggested?  Do posts like this need to be written or is the job of fans to be positive all the time?  That crowd was sparse on Saturday.  Should we feel ashamed about that and does it contribute to disappointing performances?

I don’t know the answer and the 4 things above are just suggestions but I find it hard that anybody thinks everything is swell.  It can be and I think it’s close but I just think something is not there right now.  What is that thing?  You tell me.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

41 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: What is Missing?



  1. Sentient Third Eye
    8:09 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

    Just as the Cats had to learn how to get over the hump, now they must learn how to stay there. It’s yet another change in culture, and one the program failed to accomplish after Brooks retired. At one point, we didn’t have a player on our roster who knew what it was like to NOT go bowling, but we let all that erode away. NOw that we’re back in a bowl, we must learn how not to allow that erosion to happen again.

    The answer, not surprisingly, lies in something I heard someone say recently about Nick Saban. He treats every opponent exactly the same whether it’s a top five team or an FCS “cupcake”. We have to get to that point to prevent future slippage.



  2. glasgowbooster
    8:12 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

    A bowl this year is a hollow victory. We have only beat awful teams, and played embarrassingly bad against some of them at times. We can’t close when we need to, and it just feels like the same old UK football. I am sorry, but I cannot get excited about going to a bowl. I have been, and will continue to be a season ticket holder, and I will continue to support the program financially, but something has to change.



    • UK Big Board Update
      9:26 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

      I love that EVERY poster on here who hates on the Cats always prefaces their statement with “I’m a season ticket holder”.

      LOL.

      No, you aren’t. That trick is getting old.



    • RUPPS.rhetoric
      9:31 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

      Respectfully disagree. How many times in the past have we lost to those “awful” teams? That “awful” South Carolina team just beat Tennessee and is now bowl eligible. That “awful” Vandy team we beat just beat Ole Miss. That “awful” Mississippi State team we beat, just recently beat Texas A&M. Are those teams great? No, of course not; but someone has to beat them, and we rarely have in the last 5 years. As far as closing out games; I’m assuming you didn’t watch the Vandy and Mississippi State games did you? We didn’t have to close out the Mizzou game on the road because we kicked their tail in from the first snap. In years past those are games we ALWAYS lose. This year… we… CLOSED!!! We are clearly at the top of the bottom dwellers and at the bottom of the mediocre teams. That’s progress by our standards. We still need that signature win, I agree. But to call 6-6 a hollow victory is bit short-sided in my opinion. GO CATS!



  3. EdC
    8:21 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

    Suggesting the fans have some responsibility to be positive after decades of UK football failure is ludicrous. Since Bear Bryant the winningest coach we have had barely won over 48% of their games and embarrassingly UK celebrated that failing grade mediocrity by putting him into the UK Sports Hall of Fame. Do UK students get into the UK Academic Hall of Fame with solid Fs?

    I don’t blame Brooks or Joker or Stoops for wanting a job they aren’t good enough for. That is on Mitch and if Stoops or Mitch don’t like it that people didn’t show up then tough. Get SEC caliber coaches and actually show you can compete. Getting to 6 wins on an easy schedule is not an accomplishment. Maybe at some point Mitch’s revenue stream for all the other sports he actually seems to care about will dry up and he will either get fired or have to actually do something other than build facilities to support football.



    • EdC
      8:37 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

      I misspoke. Winningest coach since Bear was Blanton Collier who won an astounding 53% and Brooks was less than I thought at 45%.



    • UK Big Board Update
      9:27 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

      So, you won’t be at the bowl game, I assume? That’s fine — we won’t miss you… 😉



    • UK Fan In Nashville
      10:01 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

      Assuming we lose to Louisville and win our Bowl Game, Stoops would have to win an average of 9.5 games the next two seasons to get above .500 for his career at UK. Tom Herman, with no prior head coaching experience, is 22-3. PJ Fleck, with no prior head coaching experience, is 28-21. Kirby Smart, with no prior head coaching experience, is 7-4. Neal Brown, with no prior head coaching experience, is 12-10. Jimbo Fisher, with no prior head coaching experience, is 76-17. When are we going to admit that Stoops is just not a good Head Coach? He’s had four years now and has a record of…18-30. South Carolina is going bowling the year after going 3-9 with a new head coach, and that coach is Will Muschamp for crying out loud!!! Our excuse, that the cupboard was bare when Stoops took over, is invalid. He just isn’t very good. If we don’t win at least 8 regular season games next year, with all that we have coming back, there is no question he should be fired.



    • UK Big Board Update
      10:25 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

      “Our excuse, that the cupboard was bare when Stoops took over, is invalid.”

      “If we don’t win at least 8 regular season games next year, with all that we have coming back, there is no question he should be fired.”

      Maybe the two most loaded, ridiculous, illogical arguments I’ve ever read.

      Tom Herman – Great coach. Not coming to UK. Texas recruiting base. Plays in AAC. Beaten by SMU and Navy this season.

      Kirby Smart – inherited a decent UGA team with two phenomenal RB’s in Chubb and Michel. Also have the #1 rated QB in the country. Georgia/Florida recruiting base.

      Neal Brown – Troy is 3rd in the Sun Belt. Just got blasted by Arkansas State.

      Jimbo Fisher – Florida recruiting base. Nationally respected program/household name. Inherited from HOF coach Bobby Bowden.

      When some folks have an agenda, they’ll resort to making up any bullshit they can to back it up.



    • UK Fan In Nashville
      1:09 pm November 21, 2016 Permalink

      Please, sir, explain how those are two illogical statements? I was stating that the “cupboard was bare” argument has been proven to be a lame excuse. Now that the cupboard is full, with 4 consecutive top 30 recruiting classes, why aren’t we winning more games? In other words, why aren’t we a top 30 team? Other teams were at their all-time lows and bounced back in a year maybe two. Bill O’Brien took 43 scholarship players at Penn St. and won 8 games and 7 games in his two seasons there. Good coaches don’t make excuses, they win. The fans who have watched this team struggle for years deserve some respite. We deserve a coach to elevate this program. Stoops is an amazing recruiter, but a terrible game-planner and an even worse in-game coach. Good coaches would have taken us to bowl games the last two years, and a great coach would have won the East with the players we have this year.

      “When some folks have an agenda, they’ll resort to making up any bullshit they can to back it up.” I would like to know A) What agenda you think I have and B) What BS I have made up. I’ll hang up and listen to your comments.



  4. runningunnin.454
    8:27 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

    I think the team is still relatively young, and continue to suffer from poor execution; particulary in the red zone. We also have to hit a talented TE more consistantly.
    I think this will improve next year.



  5. The Goose Is Loose
    8:28 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

    I don’t get how the schedule gets easier next year outside of Bama goes off the schedule. Our schedule this year has been very manageable. All of the games that we were equal to our opponent, outside of Missouri, were at home this year and will be road games next. We will play Vandy, South Carolina, Miss. St, and Southern Miss on the road which will make winning all 4 difficult. Georgia which we were competitive is also on the road. Then we get home games against teams we typically get our butts beat by- Florida, Tennessee, and UL. Those games we will be fairly big underdogs. We do get Missouri and Mississippi at home.
    On a side note, UAB having to pull out of our game this year really screwed our scheduling up. By having to agree to a home and home with Southern Miss likely cost us getting to 7 wins this year and cost us a home game next year.



    • WeareBBN
      8:51 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

      USM is not good, saying we had to play them hurt us is stupid. Look at how they have done, they are not good.



  6. Duuuuuude
    9:13 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

    We have a QB who is playing to his potential, but his potential is game management. I believe Barker is perhaps the most overrated player that Stoops has brought in. Based on his first two games performance, I think he would have likely lost his job this year anyway. We have this stable of wide receivers who have played their entire career having to chase errant throws. I believe we can get to that next level of beating decent teams only when our QB play becomes better than average.



    • UK Fan In Nashville
      10:05 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

      Stable of Wide Receivers with hands of stone. Unbelievable how many drops Dorian Baker and Garrett Johnson have had. So many wide open touchdowns dropped. Our receivers are super athletic, bad football players.



  7. knowitall
    9:26 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

    BTI makes me wonder how he ever got an intern job to begin with. If he were to post something positive about the football program I believe it would be a shock to most everyone. Listen, I’m not the smartest guy around but I’ve been in a few football locker rooms and been part of some good teams. Its not that there is something missing, its that it has never been. In order for a program on any level to be consistently good, then there has to be consistent improve first. This is just beginning. Anyone who thought this would be a quick fix was foolish. The program when Stoops took over was at may be its lowest point in terms of talent. Not saying Stoops has been perfect, he would even admit that he hasn’t been. But its baby steps, and a bowl is the beginning. Now I will say this, if the program starts trending backwards after this year then may be something is missing. As of right now we are good, except when people want to complain no matter what.



    • UK Fan In Nashville
      10:06 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

      South Carolina said that about their program last year after going 3-9, yet they are going bowling this year. This excuse is getting very tired.



    • UK Big Board Update
      10:32 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

      Man, my buddy was right; people who live in TN really ARE jackasses.



    • UK Fan In Nashville
      1:19 pm November 21, 2016 Permalink

      Yet you are the one name-calling and not providing anything of substance to back up your arguments. Btw, I’m from Louisville and a graduate of the University of Kentucky. I worked for the football team all four years(The Brooks Era). I’ve been a diehard Kentucky Football fan since I was little. I remember crying after the LSU game in ’03. I was 11 years old and standing about 30 yards away, on my birthday, when James Whalen dislocated his shoulder in the ’99 Music City Bowl. I remember going crazy when Demoreo Ford scored the touchdown against Clemson in the ’06 Music City Bowl. I rushed the field when we beat LSU in ’07. Don’t ever question my fanhood.



  8. Bob Sacamano
    9:32 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

    What’s missing is that UK still has not pulled out that upset win over a top ten team. They got the wins they were supposed to get, but that signature, ESPN Upset Alert, “Kentucky just beat in football?” win is yet to come.



  9. secrick
    9:54 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

    All this negative bull shit has to be coming from card fans. BTI started it with this post. We can’t be happy with a 36 point victory and could have been more if Stoops hadn’t done the right thing and let every one play. I say 6 wins is good for us this year and we would have all taken that when the season started. I say shut up you negative band wagon fans and that includes you BTI.



    • UK Fan In Nashville
      10:12 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

      No it’s coming from real fans, that are tired of excuses. We have far too much talent to be losing to southern miss at home. We had more talent than UGA at the time of that game, because of our healthiness. The last two seasons’ collapses were pitiful, and these fans deserve better. These players deserve better coaching. Falling behind 0-13 against a team that has lost 44 out of 45 games against mostly FCS schools is just embarrassing, regardless of the final score. I’m happy we are going bowling, but this should have been our third consecutive bowl game and we should have at least 8 wins this year.



    • UK Big Board Update
      10:26 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

      Why do fans like you “deserve better”? Because our basketball team is good?



    • EdC
      10:41 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

      Hilarious how the people who think that blowing sunshine up the team’s and administration’s rear ends = real fans.

      Real fans want real success, not participation trophy success which a crap bowl game in a year with easy scheduling is. Your analysis is the same kind of nonsense analysis that says everybody who voted for Trump is a racist and sexist and everybody who voted for Hillary is an elitist.

      No. It doesn’t have to be coming from cards fans. It is quite often coming from fans who have been around this same excuse and “that’s so Kentucky” mindset who knows BS when they see it and aren’t going to be happy with moral victories.

      Keep wishing in one hand and crapping in the other and see which one fills up faster.



    • UK Big Board Update
      11:09 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

      You and Nashville should probably just stop watching football. Its obvious your fragile feelings can’t handle it like mature adults.



    • EdC
      11:20 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

      Says the guy who probably hung onto his belief in Santa and the Easter Bunny like he is holding onto his hope in UK football. Some of us actually would like the team to compete instead of having to schedule wins and we don’t have the low expectations of the likes of you.



    • UK Big Board Update
      11:23 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

      Derp derp? UK went .500 in the SEC this year. Quit talking out of your ass.



  10. kycats13
    10:01 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

    To me what is missing is that every time the coaching staff takes a step forward, they do something foolish that sends them back two steps.
    example: 4th and goal at Tennessee, we take a field goal
    4th ant 15 on the 40 yard line at Tennessee, we punt into the end zone.
    These are the two most recent, but it is decisions like this that just deflate the enthusiasm.



  11. Unremarkable Post
    10:10 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

    What’s missing, one word, EXPECTATIONS. That is primary differentiation between top level programs and middle of the pack ones. Recruits expect to win pick you, players expected to win with a top recruit behind them play harder. Coached who expect to be fired after 5 win seasons light a bigger fire under players.



    • Unremarkable Post
      10:13 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

      coaches – typo



  12. az1006
    10:26 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

    What I don’t understand is this: Prior to the season, the expectation was a bowl. Period. Most people thought we’d go 6-6, 7-5 if we got a bounce or two to go our way and pull off an upset we didn’t really see coming. Well…Here we are. 6-5 with a game left. Just as we all expected.

    So the question is…What the hell’s the problem? Yes, there have been frustrating occurrences this season: the USM collapse, the Florida game, the dropped sure-TD against Georgia, the red zone failures at Tennessee…But, there have also been plenty of positives. The fact we started 0-2 and lost our starting quarterback in week 3, yet still managed to win 6 games. The fact we took a step forward by beating Vandy, South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Missouri (the teams we really should compare ourselves to). The fact we really only lose 1 offensive starter from a unit that has been one of the most productive in school history. We have plenty of things to be excited about.

    And, yet, here we are…Bitching and moaning about what might have been, forgetting what was just a few months ago. If you really want to know why Kentucky Football can’t seem to get over the proverbial hump, this is exactly why. When coaches and players reach expectations, we suddenly change the expectations and don’t recognize positive accomplishments.

    It hasn’t been the perfect season, but I’m extremely happy with the way this team never quits and plays hard every snap. With all the youth we have, we really are just getting started.



  13. It was me Stoops the whole time
    11:42 am November 21, 2016 Permalink

    I don’t think Stoops is a bad coach, I just don’t think he’s a good coach. Reminds me a lot of Marvin Lewis (but probably not even that good). I don’t see anything from the program that makes me think greatness is coming. I think we will always be around .500 with Stoops trying to make sure we can check off that 6th win most years.

    I think if you look at a program like Colorado (who hired a guy we considered when we hired Stoops) you can see what an elevated program due to a good coach looks like. They were far worse than Kentucky when they both took their jobs and if they beat Utah on Saturday they will play for the Pac-12 championship.



    • UK Fan In Nashville
      1:24 pm November 21, 2016 Permalink

      Don’t let Uk Big Board see this he might call you a jackass.



    • BigBlueMeade
      2:43 pm November 21, 2016 Permalink

      The only problem I have with the Colorado comparison is that MacIntyre’s best record at Colorado before this season was 4-9, and if you look at the games they have won this year they are beating up on a deflated PAC-12. They got killed by Michigan and lost to a USC team that has looked vulnerable this year. Now I know the SEC is deflated as well, but they beat Colorado State who only has 6 wins because they play in a horrible conference, Idaho State is one of the worst D1 schools in the country, Oregon and Oregon State only have 4 and 3 wins right now, ASU is at 5 wins against the bad PAC-12, Arizona is 2-9, Stanford’s 8-3 record is supported by wins over ASU, Arizona, Oregon, and Oregon State, and UCLA is at 4-7 with wins over horrible schools as well. The SEC might be deflated, but Colorado’s record will be put up to the test if they get a good bowl game (which they will). I don’t think CU would have more than 7 wins in SEC play.



  14. Bluecreeker
    12:27 pm November 21, 2016 Permalink

    I can only feel sorry for those who look at this program with the “eye’s of Texas” as if UK was ever something other than below average (1977 and Bear years excluded). PawPaw Brooks had several horrible seasons before he got UK back to respectable. Even the respectable years of Brooks were nothing to write home about in the real realm of College Football. He won the games he was suppose to win and pulled out an upset seemingly every year there for a while.
    UK this year has been playing with a non SEC caliber QB. Sorry but the Johnson kid is a fine young man, but he is not a SEC caliber QB. He has horrible mechanics which make the short passing game a crap shoot at best. HOWEVER, Barker getting hurt was possibly the best thing that happened this year. Don’t get me wrong, I hope the kid gets back but forcing UK to run the ball has made the returning QB (whoever it is) job much easier next season.
    I give Stoops a “C” from my perspective based upon where he started. I for one will be glad to have him back next year.



  15. runtsfan
    1:52 pm November 21, 2016 Permalink

    It’s a very good year when we win half our SEC games. I don’t care how weak the East is.



  16. UK Fan In Nashville
    2:16 pm November 21, 2016 Permalink

    Ok. So I have responded to a lot of other comments on here. I just want to put my two cents in here, not that anyone gives two shits, but here goes.

    We have no historical reason to expect greatness here. I get that. What we do have is excellent facilities and a great territory for recruiting. Lexington is within an 8-hour drive of about 15 major metropolitan cities, and we are in the SEC. We should be able to get good recruits to come here, and Stoops has proved that since arriving. So good, we finally have a coach that recognizes our advantage and goes for it. That’s wonderful! I love it! …But, he has proven time and time again to not have the chutzpah to get the job done on the field. Why has Louisville been able to dominate us the last 20 years? They are typically way behind us in the recruiting rankings. The answer? Good coaching. Rich Brooks and John L. Smith are about even, but, since Bear Bryant, we have not had a coach of the caliber of Bobby Petrino or Charlie Strong at Kentucky. Stoops lies somewhere between Brooks and Morris, not as good as Brooks and not as bad as Morris, but with better talent than either had, save the ’07 team. Benny Snell may end up being the best running back to ever play at Kentucky, yet Stoops has chosen many times this season to go with JoJo Kemp(Mr. No-yards-after-contact) in key moments of games. You heard Booger McFarland, in a studio check-in during the Austin Peay game say, “it’ll be fine just give the ball to Mr. Snell.”

    Anyway, I think a “C” is an appropriate grade, as the poster above stated. But having a C-Level coach in a conference full of A-level teams is unacceptable. The longer we wait to pull the trigger, the further away target will be. We need an A-level guy. I know nothing will happen this year, but if we regress next year, we will have missed out on some program-changing coaches that are going to be scooped up at the end of this season. And that’s a shame.

    I really hope I’m wrong and we win 9 games and the East next year. I will be cheering hard every game regardless. Go Cats, and beat Louisville!



    • J-Dub421
      3:28 pm November 21, 2016 Permalink

      Look, you make some good points, but here’s the problem. The great new facilities we have are because of Stoops. He’s the one who pushed for them, helped design them, and got boosters on board to fund them. That was pretty much all Stoops.

      You also mentioned fertile recruiting grounds. Like Ohio maybe? Also Stoops and his staff. They are the ones with the in-roads into Ohio, and no other UK coach has even tried to recruit there, so thank Stoops again for the talent upgrade.

      As far as “A” level coaching talent, you’re dreaming. UK is not a top destination job and we cannot simply throw money out there and get whatever coach we want like we can in basketball. UK will not get coaches like Les Miles here. That is a pipe dream.



  17. It was me Stoops the whole time
    3:31 pm November 21, 2016 Permalink

    @BigBlueMeade That’s my point exactly. The Pac-12 is wretched for the most part and Colorado is taking advantage of that. I don’t believe you have to gradually build up your win total to be “moving in the right direction”. At the beginning of the year we had no idea the sec would be this weak and so everyone said 6 wins will be great. But then when we find out it is, the expectations have to change. This was the year UK could have overachieved because the circumstances were right to do so. Instead we were pounded by the 3 good sec teams we played (yes tenn had us down 49-22 before we scored some garbage points) Those were always expected losses and that’s fine. In my mind the Southern Miss loss and Georgia loss were inexcusable given how the season transpired. I really hope I am wrong about Stoops and next year we break through and at least compete against the upper echelon teams and don’t piss away games that we should win but again nothing I have seen makes me believe that is coming.



    • BigBlueMeade
      3:50 pm November 21, 2016 Permalink

      The only loss I think is inexcusable would be the Southern Miss loss. Speaking of changing expectations, after the SM and Florida loss, my expectations changed to 3-4 wins.The fact that we have 6 right now after the beginning of the season shows that the coaching staff and players were able to rally and not give up on the season. Georgia was a toss up game from the beginning, and I was frustrated at the end because we had every chance to win, but as far as expectations for the season go we got as many wins as many expected in the preseason, and more wins than people thought after the first 4 weeks of the season. I think next year we can go 5-3 in SEC and win get 8 wins barring a big upset. The SEC has become more competitive than it has been in years and I think some see it as weakness in the conference. Next year the SEC should be very good.