Kentucky Wildcat Football: It’s not “if” anymore, it’s “when”


September 22, 2012; Gainesville FL, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach Joker Phillips in the second half against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida Gators defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 38-0. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

For the last several years, Kentucky football fans have been playing the “if” game and to be honest, it is driving me crazy. Saturday was a perfect example of the “if” game. The Kentucky defense came out strong and showed a fire they had been missing since November 26. But … Max Smith was injured and the promising start for Kentucky quickly dissolved into an annoying rendition of the IF game:

  • What IF Max Smith had played
  • What IF Morgan had hit a streaking DaMarcus Sweat for a TD pass in the first instead of overthrowing him
  • What IF Kentucky could stopped Driskel on his long run which led to a early FG?
  • What IF Newton had not thrown the pick 6?
  • What IF Craig McIntosh had booted those two FG’s

Obviously, playing the IF game is done by losers, but in a 38-0 loss and a 1-3 season, it’s hard not to.  But if IF was reality, we would be looking at maybe a 7-6 Florida lead rather than 17-0 when all the wheels came off.  And to be honest, Joker Phillips deserves to have some of the “IF’s” cast at him.

  • What IF Kentucky had prepared for no Max Smith instead of not giving Newton reps till gameday like he said?
  • What IF Jalen Whitlow was better prepared?

And we could go on and on.  To be fair, Rich Brooks had a lot of “IFs” in his career as well.  Let’s not forget, Brooks had Kentucky at #8 in the country after beating LSU.  What IF Brooks had really capitalized on that season and brought in a Top 20 recruiting class?  It could go on and on.  But at this point, it’s unfair to play the IF game at Kentucky football coaches anymore.

Let’s be honest.

This is not a story about IF Joker Phillips will be fired.  I think that has turned to WHEN already.  But Joker is not the only person to blame for this.

It does not matter who the next coach at Kentucky will be, as long as the UKAA does not make a major commitment to Kentucky football and the facilities. Part of the reason Rich Brooks left is because he saw the writing on the wall and saw that Kentucky was not serious about upgrading into a SEC Football Program.   All that Missouri and Texas A&M joining the SEC meant was that Kentucky fell from maybe 11th to 13th or 14th in the area of facilities.  And no big name football coach is going to come to Kentucky with that track record.  Moral issues aside, do you really think a coach like Bobby Petrino would come here if offered?  Not a chance.  So you can cross these names off your list of dream coaches for this reason.  And say we get a good solid hire at coach, how long will he stay here until he is run out of town because he lived up to the self fulfilling prophecy of Kentucky not being able to compete in the SEC?

For a school whose cash cow is Kentucky Football (thanks to the SEC), the Kentucky football administration should be embarrassed by how far their facilities lag compared to other SEC schools.  Just a brief tour of the Florida campus on Saturday showed clearly how far  behind UK  is to the “big boys” of the SEC. Florida has great football facilities and has a very good basketball program.  Auburn is another example of solid football  and they have a brand new basketball arena.  It is not impossible to spend money on both football and basketball in the SEC.  And if you can’t do it with SEC revenue, what do you need?  All of you people pushing for Kentucky to go to the ACC, just stop.  With a far lesser smaller of  revenue in the ACC, do you really think Kentucky will upgrade their program to keep up with Florida State and Miami?  Less money from the ACC will mean less facilities for football which will mean lower tier status once again.

This cycle has to end and it has to end soon.  And for Mitch Barnhart and the rest of the Kentucky Athletics brass, the question has to be not IF Kentucky will get serious about football, but WHEN?