The University of Kentucky has never been much of a football school. A legacy of winning and first round draft players in our basketball program? Absolutely. But football is what we play until it's time for tip-off. The only exception to that would be in the late 90's when Tim Couch and Coach Rich Brooks carried us to 4 Music City Bowls (winning 3 of those) and the Liberty Bowl in 2009. But a tournament named after a fruit or a flower? Yeah...never gonna happen. And I have always been fine with that because I know that October brings Big Blue Madness (which fans have taken to a whole new level with all of the camping out for days just to get tickets. To an exhibition game. I'm not exaggerating. DAYS.) and the new year always ushers in a tough schedule of SEC games. If we could trade in our football season for 2 basketball seasons, we would probably all unanimously agree to that.
But this sentiment has never rung more true than this year. The 2011 football season has been filled with embarrassing losses and mortifying statistics. It's hard to unconditionally support a team when they don't make a single touchdown the entire game (seriously, they made an interception in the game against University of SC and although they were under 20 yards from their own end zone, they ended up having to kick it for the points because they couldn't run it in. And that, folks, are the only points they made the entire game). The 24-17 loss against University of Louisville (our state rivalry) was disappointing but not unexpected. The team who claims victory usually alternates between the 2 schools. But the 35-7 loss against LSU and the 54-3 loss against USC had fans calling for Coach Joker Phillips' head on a cheese tray. And how he is doing so poorly with a team that was recruited by a coach who took us to consecutive bowl games is beyond our collective comprehension. After receiving a sympathy invitation to the Compass Bowl (how do you get invited to a bowl game after a 6-7 season anyway??), we all had higher hopes for the 2011 season. But hopes are like Waterford crystal...so easily smashed into a million unrecognizable pieces.
The city newspaper is so disgusted, they've started covering basketball. In October.
But last Saturday was different. As Shana has already covered so well, we won one. Hallelujah, pass the bourbon, we're taking a ride on the sin wagon. It was a good day. We didn't even bother to stroll into the stadium until almost half-time. What was the point? To watch Morgan Newton look about in slow motion while he tries to identify someone who could maybe catch a pass and then be sacked over and over and over again? Meh. Mimosas taste better than defeat. But then the canons started firing. And several times over we heard TouchDOOOOOOWWWNNNNNN, Kentucky! Which is vastly different than when they announce points scored by the other team. That normally sounds like touchdownjacksonvillestate. So, we drained our cups and hightailed it to our seats in the 100 section.
They looked good and aggressive...
They ran for interceptions...
and in general played so well that the cheerleaders took a break to readjust their tiniest tumblers and make post-game party plans.
After a delightful half-time show and the crowning of our ivory-white Homecoming Court (apparently, a black man can be President but cannot be U.K. Homecoming King...sadly...diversity is not one of our defining characteristics), the teams took to the field once again, filled with piss and vinegar and the will to win. Warm-up kicks were right on target
and I was reminded of how inflexible I truly am. My hamstrings saw that and laughed until they wet themselves.
Winning by 20 points meant that the cheerleaders didn't have to work quite so hard to fire up the C-A-T-S, Cats, Cats, Cats! cheer
and Big Blue, as he is apparently being called now, could kick it with the dance team instead of working the crowd and flailing about...
At one point, we had become so comfortable in our lead that even the O-line was waving their hands to fire up the crowd. I guess they play better bubble-wrapped in the sweet sound of "YOU CAN DO IT."
But it seems to have worked because they ran and shoved their way to one more "TOUCHDOOOOOWWWNNNNN, KENTUCKY!"
Final score: 38-14.
Thank you, boys in blue...for bringing your A game, even when playing a I-AA team. A win is a win, even when it is against a team that belongs to the division below. It makes the wait for November pass a little more quickly.
**And Shana was spot on. Our cheerleaders are kind of a big deal. 18 NCAA championships under their belt. No wonder they look a little underwhelmed by the burly men in spandex who can't seem to get the job done most of the time.