I, like you, was once just a fan of UK football. Lifelong and mor..."/>

I, like you, was once just a fan of UK football. Lifelong and mor..."/>

Kentucky Wildcat Football: The Reality of the Situation


I, like you, was once just a fan of UK football. Lifelong and more passionate than most, my fanhood grew as my affinity for football became stronger. But only in the last two years have I taken the next step up, and our editor Paul gave me a chance to write for this blog. I don’t post as much as I used to (I think Paul is more thankful for that) but a few things have come to my attention since starting this. When you are asked to observe and then comment on the issues surrounding UK football, you notice more of the peripheral effects of media. As you probably read other UK sports blogs, there are several selections out there, with KSR being another selection. The site is good, there are a lot of connections over there that give you inside access to the program and it is well established as a source of UK chatter. But let’s be 100% honest, it’s not the end all to semi-pro UK writing. I’m not going to be trashing the site for the duration of this post, I have my own personal reasons for being leery of the site but the site that “brings the news in the most ridiculous manner as possible” has a tendency for going off the reservation, and one certain journalist in particular.

This writer wrote an article after the Florida game that was particularly troubling, with one of the first sections casting doom and gloom over the football program and ending with,”Joker Phillips has completely lost the fans“. That, my friends, is shoddy journalism.

This is year two of a first time head-coach’s tenure at a football program that had barely risen to recognizability only a few short years ago, playing a team that is annually considered to be in the running for a national championship. The first three games this year have not been pretty to watch, I know, but someone who was given (and subsequently removed from) a national level writing job should know that perception is reality, and if you are going to put up a statement like that on one of the most read blogs in the state, you are doing nothing but making things worse. To the casual fan who might be a little jaded at this point, when you visit a blog that popular and see something like that; even if you weren’t against Joker, you think,”Well if people (supposedly) smarter than me are saying this, then it must be true.” Then the fan goes into work and makes bold declarations based on what he/she read and makes someone else think,”Hey, they seem to really be convinced of that, maybe it’s true.” You can see how this ripple effect spreads.

The reality of the situation is this: the team isn’t that great. Big deal. We haven’t been that great for a majority of the football teams existence. 2007 was one of the best seasons to be a season ticket holder and a fan in general, but that won’t happen every year. If you want to complain about anything, complain about the lack of foundation building many years ago. Rich Brooks brought us back from the brink, but if you look at the 2008 recruiting class (minus the brilliant Randall Cobb, and may his blessings be upon you) or even the 2007 class, you will be wholly underwhelmed. Want to know the highest ranked players from that class? Stuart Hines, three stars on Rivals. How about Moncell Allen? Three stars on Rivals. From 2008, the next highest ranked prospect after Aaron Boyd was Winston Guy; once again, three stars. Winston might be a leader and anyone that would like can sit down and have an adult beverage with me and defend him all you want, but when your supposed best player from the 2008 class is a safety that can’t cover, there isn’t a bright spot in that class either.

Another reality: since 2008, we’ve been lucky to make it to a bowl. Simple as that. We’ve had great upset wins and its been exciting seeing the Cats play after November, but can anyone really say we deserved to be in a bowl last year? How about the year before it?

I am deeply saddened by the lack of faith that is expressed over at the other UK blog and the amount of negativity they are spreading. I can remember, in my lifetime (and I’m still under 30), when, after 2 years at the helm of a program, it was completely normal to say,”Give him two more years, let him get his players in.” Now in the era of instant everything and Twitter, fans can get pissy at a rate unheard of in past decades. But not the alleged “#1 fan” of an overbloated and self serving website, and not directed at Joker Phillips. The man has already filled out a class for the next year of recruiting that is laughably beyond 2008 (the last year before Joker took over). The 2008 class had one four-star recruit (and Aaron Boyd shouldn’t count, but I had to include him. For integrity), eight three-star, and 11 two-star recruits. The 2012 class, as it stands, has one four-star, 12 three-star, and seven two-star recruits. You can argue all you want about the usefulness of recruiting ranks, but nobody can deny that is a better class.

This is a sad time for the football program, nobody can deny it. But, as these Lexington rain clouds will break, so will the cloud over the heads of the Big Blue football program. But if irresponsible conclusion jumping sinks the ship of the Phillips era a mere two years into the program, then Matt Jones will have proved himself to be just as bad as the people that he so publicly makes fun of. Rallying people behind hasty declarations is tantamount to bullying, and just because you have a podium does not mean you should pander to whatever whimsical emotions you’re feeling at the time. Instead of negativity, try writing something in defense of the players that are laying their health and their own personal pride down to represent this university. Maybe you’ll see the morale improve. Journalism is a dual-edged sword that should be used in pursuit of the truth, and KSR, Matt Jones in particular, has now become the very thing they strove to avoid: overreactive and pedantic in their own forming of public opinion.

If anyone reading this knows Mr. Jones and would like to get in contact with him to discuss the things I have said, I welcome it. I am always open to a mature exchange of ideas.

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