The Southeastern Conference is better than ever at the top — LSU and Alabama are 1-2 in America — and solid in the middle with South Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida and Auburn. Poised to break out are Tennessee and Mississippi State, and even Vanderbilt. At the bottom, the University of Kentucky has been awful.
Unvarnished truths at midseason. Kentucky record is 2-4, but worse. Two touchdowns scored in last 12 quarters of football while surrendering 48, 35 and 54 points is unacceptable, ruinous.
The last three Saturdays have shown fans and recruiting prospects that Wildcat football is no nearer competing for the SEC front row than it was five or 10 years ago. And, the addition of Texas A&M has the same indications it will dominate Wildcat football as South Carolina has since it moved to the SEC.
That the departure of two playmakers, Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke, has dialed Kentucky’s offense back to zero is alarming.
That Joker Phillips gambled good will and fan support on a single quarterback who has not shown he can play SEC football is embarrassing.
These things were made more glaring last week when Steve Spurrier reached into his depth chart, installed Connor Shaw at quarterback and the kid became a star. Using All-SEC tailback Marcus Latimore not at all, Shaw shredded Kentucky.
In a bitter irony, Spurrier’s 54- 3 humiliation reminded me of Adolph Rupp. Half a century ago the old Baron took basketball teams into SEC towns and humbled home teams end line to end line, relentlessly, sending the same message Spurrier did last week — improve your program up to our standards … or this is what you can expect!
So, is there a ray of sunshine for Kentucky football?
A bye week and the remaining schedule can be viewed as hopeful.
Meanwhile, a few ideas …
• Phillips ought to re-visit the depth chart at all positions on offense.
• Phillips should demote Morgan Newton. His popularity contest at quarterback cost Kentucky Ryan Mossakowski. Steve Spurrier showed what can happen when he dumped Stephen Garcia last week and found Connor Shaw.
• Look inside the suicide squad special teams and find a fierce offensive lineman or two who moves his feet instead of his lips about protecting his quarterback.
• Phillips should demote receiver LaRod King. Dropped passes aside, the self-professed go-to-guy in preseason has not been.
• Defense: Find a pass rusher able to move and pressure a quarterback occasionally instead of not at all.
When a team has scored three touchdowns in three weeks, is on a four game skid and Big Blue Madness at the door, all ideas are good ones it seems to me.
Consider Carol Martin “Bill” Gatton. Consider him for what?
A Nobel Prize for Economic Sanity. If there were an equivalent in Kentucky, Gatton should get it.
A University of Kentucky board of trustee member, Gatton’s voice for fiscal sanity rang out of the wilderness last week in what amounts a rejection of Mitch Barnhart extravagance.
Gatton opposes building a new basketball arena in Lexington and is against installing luxury suites in Rupp Arena too. All for the right reasons possible, protecting the rights of Wildcat fans.
By way of the Lexington Herald-Leader, Gatton said he believes executive suites “would be a mistake.” Would mean fewer seats for “core fans.”
Luxury boxes are horrible, he said, and a distraction from basketball. For those who want them (led by Barnhart), Gatton said “… let them join country clubs for socializing.”
Man after my own heart, Gatton.
And so it goes.