Many longtime UK football followers will tell you the Wildcat football team’s best chance at pulling out a winning record and earning a minor bowl bid comes in those years when UK is able crack the win column via the three Commonwealth Stadium “buyout games” and then manage to beat Louisville, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. A mild upset for a seventh win usually lands the Cats in either Nashville or Memphis for a minor bowl game.
Rarely does this happen, but it’s been the mindset of Big Blue Nation over the years. In recent years since Rich Brooks left town, however, it’s been all but impossible for UK to beat the Cards, Bulldogs, Commodores, or even the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers.
Maybe a new day is on the horizon, and I don’t necessarily mean just Mark Stoops’s new recruiting success. I believe, hopefully, that some of the Cats’ opponents are about to backslide a little, as the Southern Baptists used to say, because of coaching changes.
Speaking of backsliding, let’s start with the University of Louisville’s new coach, Bobby Petrino, who has resurfaced into the loving arms of Tom Jurich, a guy that Petrino blatantly lied to just a few years ago. But all is good in the world of college sports as long as you can put up more W’s than L’s.
In rehiring Petrino at Louisville, Jurich, the athletics director, threw academics, morals and ethics out the window when selecting the man who will now be in charge of the Cardinals’ student-athletes.
Elsewhere, Vanderbilt may also slide back to the bottom of the SEC now that Penn State has finally pulled the trigger and brought Coach James Franklin on board.
Only time will tell if UK football can get back to the success level of the Rich Brooks era, but you can be sure of one thing, and that is everybody over in the UK athletics department — especially those who reside over on Cooper Drive — are tickled pink they no longer have to compete against UofL with Charlie Strong and Vanderbilt with James Franklin.
Only game with Vols
Because of the newly revised SEC schedule and it’s quirky nature with 14 teams now in the league, this Saturday’s game with the Tennessee at Rupp Arena (noon on CBS) may very well be the only game between the two longtime rivals unless they meet in the SEC tournament in the Georgia Dome. This means no game in Knoxville at Thompson-Boling Arena, a site that has been very kind to the Vols when their hated rival UK comes rolling into town.
I don’t know about Coach Cal, but this is a schedule former Wildcat coach Joe B. Hall would have loved to have laid at his feet back in the ‘70s and ‘80s when he annually fought for his coaching life and usually ended up on the losing side to the Vols in the old Stokely Athletic Center.
Columnist Ira D. Combs lives at Jeff in Perry County.