Tennessee: The Day After

Does Matt Roark Get a Flag in the Ring of Honor?

Yesterday was the day Kentucky football fans have waited for a long time. In many cases, their whole lives. The University of Tennessee had beaten Kentucky so many times, and often so convincingly, that it was no longer considered a rivalry game. Tennessee used to prevail by an average of 3 touchdowns. But during the Kentucky’s modern football renaissance, the Cats kept it close but always seemed to give the game away in the end. But not on November 26, 2011, this time when the chips were down, Kentucky didn’t blink. They took their 3 point lead, ran as much clock as possible and let their defense loose on Tyler Bray. Conservative? Yes. Effective? Yes. Victorious? That’s all that matters baby.

What makes this victory so special is the fact that Kentucky played the entire game with a wide receiver playing quarterback in a Wildcat/Wishbone hybrid offense that also had Pistol elements. It may have been invented this week and remains nameless (though the “WildRoark” is quite popular). And this wasn’t Randall Cobb taking snaps, but Matt Roark, whom many fans have reviled for years due to his offensive ineptitude. But Roark has become a factor late in his senior year, and now he is a legend. Twenty years from now I wouldn’t be surprised to see an ESPN360 documentary about it.  It’s such a  great story and one true-blue Kentucky fans will be telling repeatedly around Thanksgiving for years to come.

The victory  would appear to toss water on the flames under Joker Phillips’ seat for now, though the coals are still smoldering. There have been reports all week that Phillips could be fired or resign following this game. But there has been little evidence that such reports were more than reporters throwing something against a wall to see what sticks. AD Mitch Barnhart has shown support for Phillips and expects him to be on the sidelines next season. Which is the right decision, as 3 years is the standard tenure for new head coaches. But regardless of your opinion of Phillips’ and what he is building in Lexington, you should be happy for him. You should be happy your team won and ended a streak of losses that was downright silly. Only at Kentucky does a win like this happen and people immediately begin discounting it. Explaining away any joy that can come from it. If you are a fan, then you want your team to win and you are happy when it occurs. It’s that simple. It’s remarkable what those coaches and players accomplished yesterday considering the fact that they lack the support of their so-called fans. Take the blinders off for a minute (we get it, you don’t like Joker Phillips) and enjoy one of the better days in Kentucky sports history.