You know, it would only seem fit that one of the warmest days in November few have seen would produce such a glorious day. It seemed so long ago that I was writing an article speaking to how much I loathed the team and everything about the university, from the school song to the very grass on the field. I felt the cold rushes through my gut as I thought about every disappointment, every moment of anticipation on every play that ended in pain. I can remember so many times when victory seemed ready to pluck from the sky only to plunge back to earth, bruising tailbone and ego alike. 2007 was the hardest, the wave of excitement over the season had crashed but we all felt that there was one more left in the tank, one more spark of ecstasy within the season. But even then, my last year as an undergraduate, we fell.
But that is not the point of this open memoir, if you will, because much more exciting things happened today. For 27 years, we have faced this constant. Think of the things that have ended in 27 years: Communism, cassette tapes, Billy Ray Cyrus. The one thing that has remained was this, a sordid reminder of what Kentucky football could fail to achieve. A dirty spot we couldn’t wipe away. The air of brevity that surrounds my writing is often a reflection of the absurdity behind the ways that we find to prove ourselves unworthy of the victory. We tried even today, shooting the only foot that had firm ground on the shore of victory for most of the game. If not for the sheer force of will possessed by the defense, all would have been lost. Calling three QB runs out of four plays in the second half showed the wear of a man who had no other ideas and was simply trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. But a peculiar thing happened today: the square peg began to slide, with difficulty, into the round hole; much like our improbable QB kept finding places to slide through, galloping towards first down markers when the whole stadium leaned forward on bated breath. And we saw a man grow into a legend.
The legend of Roark has begun as abruptly and as surprisingly as his career: his 36 catches this year more than doubles his number from all previous years combined. But when both quarterbacks went down, a quarterback from high school was the man that stepped up.Not only that, but he went public with a statement that seemed destined for corkboards all over the Volunteer locker room. But a man that was largely forgotten for his entire career will always be remembered by any fan of UK football as the man who drive through the dark and delivered us to the calm clear waters of this joyous evening. For him, this was the bowl game, and the location couldn’t have been more ideal. Same for Guy, Trevathan, and the offensive line, as well as every other senior, alumni, and fan of Kentucky football.
The season has ended, officially, as bowl eligibility slipped away from the Cats this season, and no, I have no idea what next season will hold. The quarterback controversy has already been set as the storyline of the spring and summer, and I literally have no idea who will make a tackle for us on defense next season, although I’m fairly sure someone will (I think), but enjoying a night like this deserves a celebration worthy of savoring every sweet taste and holding on to every moment of it. After all, I have never waited for a present since I was three months old.
This holiday season, be thankful for many things. Be thankful for family who love you, friends who like you, and be thankful that we live in this country. But once you’ve gotten that out of the way, be thankful for one more thing…
The Barrel is coming back to Lexington
P.S. If you couldn’t be here in Lexington for the game, here is a view we’ve all been waiting 26 years for