“East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’, we’re gonna do what they say can’t be done.
We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there
I’m east bound, just watch ol’ “Bandit” run.”
For all you young people (and by young I mean those born in the 90’s) that chorus,from “East Bound and Down” (Give it a listen), was written by the indelible Jerry Reed and used as the theme song for the “Smokey and the Bandit” movie series with Burt Reynolds, Jerry Reed and Sally Fields. What’s awesome about that song is that while it was stuck in my head this morning I kept thinking about how it is related to the UK Football program. Now bear with me for a bit. I know this sounds like a stretch, but I think I can couch this the right way.
Sing it out loud over and over, and track with me, while I break it down.
Every season, the perpetually rebuilding Wildcats seem to have to reinvent the wheel to achieve at least some semblance of mediocrity so they’re “loading up and trucking” right along with their incoming freshmen and transfers; while the vets are grinding away to help the young guys and newbies along while simultaneously carving their own path. They’re loading up with the play book and separating the wheat from the chaff. And during the conditioning, training, practices and scrimmages, they all, as one being, have tattooed in their soul that they’re “gonna do what they said can’t be done” which is win. Who is the “they” you ask? Well my friends, the “they” is us. You and me. We are the “they”. As tough as that is to say, most UK fans don’t think they can win. We have a long memory for the losses and a short one for victories. That’s not really fair to the team but it’s the reality we live in. We need to switch that for these boys to gear down into bulldog for us to pull this out.
The entire time our young men are busting their ass in the training room to turn their hulking masses into earth moving machines, many “fans” have already judged their body of work before the first snap of the regular season. Again, it’s not fair but it is what it is. And all the while they’re working to strengthen their physical body; they’re sharpening their mind with the intricacies of a college playbook. We’re not talking Cliff’s Notes here people. There are multiple schemes for offense and defense to go along with a million other little options based on the formation and schemes and personnel the other team employs, and on and on and on. You get it right? It’s a lot of information to internalize. Stereotypically we view football players as “dumb jocks” but that’s not necessarily the reality.
So as they’re training and pushing and cramming and fighting, all the while they’re hearing “we’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there” and that is exactly the reality they live in. Not only are they hearing it from their position coaches, coordinators and head coaches, but also from the fans. Funny thing is that their coaches don’t sing that tune with a defeatist tambour; they sing it with improvement in mind; with the idea that they are better than they were and will be better still.
By contrast, many so called “fans” are muddled in the pseudo mediocrity of the past couple years and their “short time to get there” really is meant for last year. As in we should have arrived last year and not still “loading up” again this year. It’s still not fair, hell it’s not even realistic, but that’s how some “fans” operate. It’s how they think and it doesn’t have to make sense.
So while the team is putting in endless hours of strength conditioning in the weight room and mental conditioning in the film room, somewhere in the back of their mind, they’re seeing the media headlines of “fail, fail, fail,” and those same sentiments echoed by some “fans.” Their coach has failed. The team will fail. It’s inevitable. It’s so much a fact that they might as well fold up the season and start rebuilding again for next season. I don’t know how they keep pushing on. I roomed with EKU football players as an Undergrad and they push themselves for themselves but, make no mistake about this, they do it for the fans as well. They play for the love of the game and to entertain the fans so, as they’re pushing their body and mind past the breaking point, all they’re doing is “running.” They’re going straight on “east bound, just watch ol’ Bandit run.” They’re putting their head down, pinning their ears back and working with their nose to the grind stone so they can say they gave their team, themselves, and yes, even the Kentucky Wildcat fans something to be proud of and cheer for. That’s really it. Sure they want to win but sometimes doing everything right to win doesn’t produce a victory.
You’ve stopped singing now, right? If not just finish up and listen to me a bit longer.
This Kentucky Wildcat football team doesn’t need the many “fans” I’ve been talking about. They need the fans that believe in them; to believe in their hard work and dedication that we spend our hard earned money to go see on display at Commonwealth Stadium. Yes I know season ticket prices are down this year, but make no mistake, that’s should not be placed on the strong shoulders of these young men solely. They are loading up to that long trip in a short time. Please don’t sell their spirit and effort short. Reward them with your support and your tails at Commonwealth Stadium. It’s the least that true UK fans and card carrying members of the #BBN can do.
So…Show up. Support Your team. Support Your guys…Your Kentucky Wildcats!
On, On, U of K!