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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Why Are UK Football Fans So Loyal?

I have always argued that Kentucky football fans are actually some of the most “loyal” in the country because, despite a 35-40 year history of minimal success, the fans continue to show up to games and support the team in most instances.  It’s easy to support Alabama football when you win 10+ games a year.  It’s a lot different to support a team that wins 2-8 games a year.  And for the amount of wins, Kentucky football fans probably support the team as a greater level than most elite programs.  Which made me wonder why/how the football team has been able to hold a decent level of support over the years.  And I came to this conclusion: IT HAS VERY LITTLE TO DO WITH WINS.

That’s right, I would argue that supporting the football Cats over the years has had very little to do with winning.  What it does have to do with is:

-Hal Mumme had 4 of the most well-supported and “exciting” seasons in UK history.  He went 20-26 in his UK career.  But the team put up huge numbers of points on the board and play a brand of football that was fan-friendly.  It still didn’t win huge, and it didn’t beat Tennessee, but to UK fans it didn’t matter, because every week was a show.  Every week was a crapshoot, and every week was must-see TV.

-People has lost interest in UK football when Mike Hartline was quarterback.  He never endeared himself to the fans, and Morgan Newton has lowered that bar even more.  Andre Woodson started slowly in his career but came to become a legend.  Tim Couch was the most loved UK player in history and went 12-11 in his career.  Lorenzen went 15-31 in his 4 years as the starter and the fans still loved him.  A big arm and a personality seems to be more important than wins.  Could Drew Barker come to have that kind of following even without big wins?

-This is where it gets quirky.  I would argue it’s how competitive you are in LOSSES than the actual wins.  Kentucky fans lose interest when you lose to Vanderbilt.  They lose interest when you lose to Ohio.  They GAIN interest when you are competitive with Florida and Georgia.  Yes, winning those games is incredibly exciting and the more desirable result.  BUT, Kentucky fans have accepted the games against the top SEC teams as losses.  It’s sad, but that’s a fact.  What they do not accept is embarrassing performances in those games.   Playing Auburn/Tennessee/Georgia within 7 points on the road in the same year would gains interest.  Kentucky fans don’t care if they are SEC powerhouses in football.  All they want is to not be a laughingstock.  They don’t want to be a punching bag.  They don’t want to be Vanderbilt.

So, there you go.  Mark Stoops, you need to play a style of football that’s exciting.  And you need to be competitive in each and every game.  You can win 6 games and go to the Music City Bowl and make the fans happy.  But you can’t do it the way they did it last year.  You can’t do it sleepwalking.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

9 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Why Are UK Football Fans So Loyal?

  1. Dolfan66r
    8:39 am May 25, 2016 Permalink

    Please proofread your articles before posting. Grammatical mistakes abound but good article.

  2. Sentient Third Eye
    8:39 am May 25, 2016 Permalink

    I think that’s a pretty good historical overview, but Rich Brooks really did change things for a lot of UK fans, and now expectations are higher. It’s no longer “good enough” just to put on an entertaining show. We are happy with any winning season, but only losing by a TD to a rival is no longer acceptable for lots of us.

    We know that Joker was a disaster as HC so we’ve given Stoops plenty of time, but two straight heartbreaking endings to the season have strained the fan base. The bottom line is that he has to win this year because now a lot of Kentucky fans might as well be from Missouri. “Show me” if you want me to buy in again.

  3. Souf beach Lou
    8:56 am May 25, 2016 Permalink

    Kentucky is not much better than Vanderbilt where you can be throwing shade their way. As a matter of fact head to head it’s a tie at 42 wins a piece, but kentucky fans care more about football than vandy which is kind of sad. At least they are smart enough not to waste their time watching garbage football. And vandy has had better wins lately as they have beaten Florida and Georgia within the last ten years. I don’t understand why UK fans think they are so much better than vandy

  4. Jiminy Crickets
    9:35 am May 25, 2016 Permalink

    Considering we are 1-4 n our last 5 against vandy, and 3 of those losses were blowouts, with our only win a 17-7 win at home. I d say we would be happy to be Vandy. they at least beat a big boy every other year, play Florida to the wire and then kick the snot out of us. We look stupid making fun of them. We spend 10 times more on facilities and marketing, with worse results. But hey stops just landed another JUCO, we should be pumped. I’m over stoops, 3 OCs in 4 years, candy pre-SEC scheduled, and his signature win at UK is a home game win over USC that basically ended Spurrier’s career

  5. Jiminy Crickets
    9:52 am May 25, 2016 Permalink

    What Barnhart does not understand is following the Louisville pattern did not work. We went and found a up-and-coming defensive coordinator from the state of Florida, just like Charlie Strong. The problem is we don’t play in the big east with home games against Connecticut, Cincinnati, and Syracuse. We play home games against Alabama, Georgia, Florida, etc. We can build all the fancy workout facilities we want, but until we decide to invest in an actual proven head coach, six win seasons and music city bowl’s will always be the goal. I’m just getting started bro!! I also understand that red hot proven head coaches are not lined up to come to Kentucky. But I also find it hard to believe the guys like Mark Richt, or other fallen head coaches from higher profile programs would not see Kentucky as an opportunity. We love to make fun of Bobby Patrino and the fact that Louisville brought him in, and I for one I’m not a petting fan, but there is a really good chance they win the ACC conference this year, and go to a “BCS”bowl. I used richt as an example, by the way, I completely understand his ties to Miami.

    • rockatao
      10:19 am May 25, 2016 Permalink

      Kentucky football has not been an “opportunity” for a head coach since the days of Bear Bryant and Blanton Collier. UK is the graveyard of coaches. None in the last sixty years have gone on to bigger and better things. Why would you expect that to change now?

    • Jiminy Crickets
      3:52 pm May 25, 2016 Permalink

      Maybe UK has been a graveyard to coaches, because we’ve never gone out to find an experience that counts. The one time we did find an experienced head coach, his name was rich brooks. And although brooks era is not a lot to cheer about compared to most programs, it does prove that a proven coach can win at this university.but instead of following that model, we continue to hire “up and comers” with no head-coaching experience and continue to expect to have success in the toughest football conference in the country. This is exactly my point

  6. Souf beach Lou
    1:08 pm May 25, 2016 Permalink

    I am a fan of coach brooks but people forget that at the end of his tenure we had begun to plateau. Yes we were going to bowl games but we stopped improving, those bowl games were a product of a weaker schedule just look at how many sec games were won. Remember also that stoops has one extra sec game brooks did not have because Missouri and txam joined the leauge. That one game turned out to be all the difference in uk going to a bowl or not. So it goes back to what do you want as a fan? Liberty bowl wins over east Carolina or an sec win over say a Florida team ripe for the picking? In my opinion we should focus more on beating sec teams instead of doing funny math with the schedule to get to a bowl. Our next bowl game is in September in Gainesville. If you are UK winning it should be paramount.