“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”
- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Unfortunately, the words that Dickens penned so many years ago can be applied today and just to one city, Lexington, KY, and one nation, the Big Blue Nation. This past weekend, in less than 24 hours, the Big Blue Faithful recalled some of the great athletic feats that the Kentucky athletic teams have accomplished and the one nagging sport that historically, we cannot seem to succeed. At Friday night’s Big Blue Madness, we saw the newest of the eight championship banners for men’s basketball being re-raised to the rafters with the other seven. We saw the 19 time NCA champion cheerleaders perform. We saw the women’s basketball team, fresh off their run to the Elite Eight run, come out and practice (Do yourself a favor and check out head coach Matthew Mitchell’s intro). And on Saturday, we saw, through the thunder, lightning and rain, just how far off course the Kentucky Football team currently is.
Now, I’m not going to pile on the current UK football staff or players. The fact that the football program has been historically below average should be the main concern. And, like the events of A Tale of Two Cities, it’s going to take a revolution to change. At this point, the fans, the university and the players deserve better. I think it’s safe to say that we’re past the point of 5 year plans or that somehow just simply tinkering with the athletic department’s approach to football is the answer. Not now. Not with other schools across the country being bold make and making themselves national players in college football. Boise State. Oregon. TCU. Baylor. While I understand that playing in the best conference in football is a unique challenge, it’s a challenge that must be met with bold, innovative ideas and, yes, money.
The University of Kentucky is a member of the Southeastern Conference. And I don’t think that should change. For the most part, athletically, academically and culturally, Kentucky fits as an SEC school. But, here’s the problem. The long standing problem is that the SEC is a football conference. And with that being said, it’s a tough position to take that UK is doing everything necessary to compete with the rest of the conference teams when it comes to football. As far as facilities, what’s being spent on coaches and recruiting, UK has moved from the middle of the SEC to the bottom. And with Missouri and football mad Texas A&M joining the SEC this year, the Cats look like a lock to be at the very bottom. The first component of any plan to “fix” UK football has to be, what are the reasonable expectations for the football team?