“It’s completely changed. Just the atmosphere, the game day energy in our first two home games has been incredible. Totally different than when I first arrived.”
–Kentucky Head Coach Mark Stoops on fan support this season vs. past seasons
Mark Stoops is right, you know. The atmosphere surrounding Kentucky football is, ever so slowly, beginning to change from one of perennial fear and gloom to one of hope and optimism. Why, just the other day I saw I man taking a window decal of Calvin from “Calvin & Hobbes” peeing on a UK football helmet OFF his Silverado. That’s progress. That’s change. It’s proof you need? Then proof I’ll provide. Just look at the difference between the current positivity surrounding Kentucky football versus some low points over the past years. I think we can all agree it’s a great time to be a UK Football fan right now.
The 2015 UK Fan: Watches games on the edge of his or her seat, leaping to celebrate with every caught pass and first down.
The 1994 UK Fan: Watched games on the edge of his seat, biting his nails and hoping for something — anything — to change the momentum of the team for the better.
The 2015 UK Fan: Wakes each morning with an enthusiasm in his heart that UK football is once again growing into a strong and proud program.
The 1994 UK Fan: Woke each morning cynical and dismissive of a team and coaching staff that seemed to continually disappoint.
The 2015 UK Fan: Watches Friday Night Lights with friends and family, hoping it’s an encouraging precursor to a successful season for the Kentucky Wildcats.
The 1996 UK Fan: Watched Independence Day curled in a fetal position, hoping that aliens would destroy the earth before the second half of the Tennessee game resumed.
The 2015 UK Fan: Hears former quarterback Jared Lorenzen commenting on current games and remembers how much he or she enjoyed watching Lorenzen play in the early 2000s.
The 2006 UK Fan: Heard Bill Curry commenting on college football games on ESPN and instinctively doused himself in flames, leaping out the window to the street below to stop the memories searing his or her brain.
The 2015 UK Fan: Greets his fellow fans with cheerful “Go Cats!” to which an energetic “Go Cats!” is returned and high-fives are exchanged.
The 2012 UK Fan: Greets his fellow fans with a plea of “Will you drive this screwdriver into the base of my spine so I can’t walk back to my seat and watch the rest of this Vanderbilt Game?” to which a response of “I can’t see to do that because I already poked my own eyes out in the first half to avoid seeing any more of this horrible carnage” is returned and sorrowful wails are exchanged.
The 2015 UK Fan: Why not [Kentucky]?
The 1994 UK Fan: Why not [throw myself in front of this speeding tree removal truck]?
The 2015 UK Fan: Puts a UK sign in his yard to support the team.
The 1994 UK Fan: Puts garbage in his tire fire because he lives in a nightmarish hellscape of football.
The 2015 UK Fan: Is a very happy, well-adjusted man or woman who loves family and enjoys the bounty that a rich, fruitful life can yield. There’s always hope.
The 1994 UK Fan: Is incapable of true human joy and is wholly unable to love or be loved by another human being. Maybe, someday, in the 2000s, he can learn to live again. Maybe fans will be joyful anew. Maybe Commonwealth Stadium will get a renovation. Maybe.
Y2K will probably destroy everything. But there’s always hope.
Say, this guy coaching at Nordonia High School looks alright.