Kentucky football: Reporter says Wildcats “snubbed” from Coaches Poll

The 2023 UK football team sit in the stands for a team picture -- this one was for fun -- on Media Day at Kroger Field in Lexington. Aug. 4, 2023
The 2023 UK football team sit in the stands for a team picture -- this one was for fun -- on Media Day at Kroger Field in Lexington. Aug. 4, 2023 /

The USA Today Coaches Poll was released on Monday, and five SEC teams were voted in the top 25. None of those five was Kentucky football, which is definitely up for debate.

Kentucky did receive 34 votes, which would place them in 32nd. Obviously, some coaches see the ‘Cats as a top 25 team, but the majority of voters seem to be sleeping.

The Wildcats finished last season at 7-6, and were once ranked as high as 8th in the Coaches Poll, with a 4-0 start. However, UK dropped off, only going 3-6 to finish out the season, including a loss to Iowa in the Music City Bowl.

This season, the Wildcats are set to have another strong offense, as NC State transfer Devin Leary replaces Will Levis. Leary will have a plethora of returning weapons but will have a new running back, as Chris Rodriguez is with the Washington Commanders.

Defensively, Kentucky football should be competitive as usual. 2022 Freshman All-American Deone Walker could anchor the group, which lost five starters, but still returned talent.

Despite consistency under Mark Stoops, Kentucky football was not ranked inside the top 25 in the preseason Coaches Poll.

While Kentucky football might not be a powerhouse or a traditional top-tier SEC team, the Wildcats have been consistent under Mark Stoops. After a 2-10 record in year one, Stoops has never had less than five wins in a season in nine tries. Kentucky has appeared in bowl games in each of the last seven seasons.

The argument for Kentucky football to return to a bowl game and finish the season ranked is certainly there. Stoops’ teams are always competitive, and more often than not, do better than expectations. This season, UK seems to be flying under the radar.

On3’s Matt Zenitz listed Kentucky football as one of “The five biggest preseason coaches poll snubs.”

Zenitz brought up a really good point, about the return of offensive coordinator Liam Coen.

“It was a big deal, too, that the Wildcats got offensive coordinator Liam Coen back after a year as the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams. Under Coen, Kentucky was fifth in the SEC in scoring offense in 2021. Without him, the Wildcats ranked last in 2022, ” said Zenitz.

Of course, with a QB like Leary, who brings in experience from the Wolfpack, there’s no reason Kentucky’s offense can’t explode in 2023. The pieces are there for an exciting season.

It’s also worth noting that Kentucky’s first four games are Ball State, Eastern Kentucky, Akron, and at Vanderbilt. Anything can happen, but a 4-0 start seems like a pretty good bet.

After that, the games get more challenging. But I’d expect at least a 3-2 showing against Florida, Missouri, Mississippi State, South Carolina, and Louisville.

Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama are much different stories.

However, if that holds true, the Wildcats should finish the season around 7-5 or 8-4. An 8-4 season would certainly mean UK is ranked to finish the season, especially with a bowl game win. 7-5 would be borderline, but in the SEC, that’s still a very respectable record.

When it comes down to it, preseason rankings really don’t hold much, if any weight at all. If anything, it will motivate this undervalued Kentucky football group to prove itself.