Those important individuals that have been responsible for the care taking of Kentucky football over the last eight to nine years have taken great pride the last five years in the past to build a new winning foundation for the future.
The problem is that cracks in that new foundation of winning football established by Rich Brooks in the 2006–2009 run started appearing in 2010. Saturday night against intrastate rival Louisville, the earth shook and the dam broke when the Cards whipped Kentucky 24-17, and Big Blue Nation is upset.
The four-year winning streak against Louisville is gone, and it appears possibly the five-year streak of 500 or better regular seasons with bowl eligibility and post season play as well.
The Louisville Cardinals have finally weathered the storm of that four-year Wildcat tsunami. As a matter of fact, you get the feeling today across the football landscape of this Commonwealth that UK never even had a choke hold on the Cards the last four years. As the old saying goes, what have you done for me lately?
Where does UK football go from here?
The short term is in my eyes more challenging and frustrating than long term because there are too many problems that need to be addressed, especially offensively. It's like a sand bag flood wall – you plug one hole and another one pops up. The offensive line is obviously not the cornerstone the coaches thought it was, and you have several veteran lineman (I'm talking seniors) that if you continue to give reps in practice and starts in games it aborts the progress of players like freshmen Darrian Miller and Zach West along with a few others who will have to play next year.
If that hole is plugged you have a grand total of two receivers on the roster that appear to have the ability to catch a pass, and neither of those two have enough speed to separate themselves from SEC type defensive backs and safeties.
If all those problems were to be upgraded to respectability, you have a quarterback who is just now starting to develop his passing skills, which if and when those skills become effective on a consistent basis he still has obvious decision making problems of how to locate his primary and secondary receivers, and when to attempt the pass when he drops back into the pocket to use what passing skills he does have.
Developing decision making skills for a quarterback takes time on the field during game competition, which UK and Joker Phillips have now run out of.
If all these offensive problems were to be solved to a respectable manner it may never be detected by anyone, including the coaching staff, because the level of competition now becomes almost impossible to match with the teams that remain on the schedule. Except for Jacksonville State, Ole Miss, and possibly Vandy I doubt there is anyone else on the schedule that UK will have a legitimate chance of beating.
For a college football program that just a few months ago was in the midst of one of its best eras of competitive football, it's fell on hard times quickly, and the immediate future looks about as bleak as any time in it's history.
Now for the long term future of UK football.
It is glaringly apparent that we are all about to enter a new era of college athletics.
I forgot to mention the real culprits of the college athletics landscape change, the presidents and chancellors and their greed for more money and their lack of intestinal fortitude to drop this madness of spending, especially with over staffed athletic department personnel and in particular with insane coaches’ salaries.
Now that I have that off my chest let's continue.
Sometime in the next two years, probably by the summer of 2013, if not earlier, there will be an entire new look to college football, basketball, and baseball as well as all minor sports. Their will be many schools jumping from one conference to another, their will be long time tradition rich conferences losing schools to the point that they will fold the tent, their will be new mega conference affiliations formed, and in the process post season play will be altered in all sports.
If their has ever been a time for the University of Kentucky to take a long hard look at what it can do to provide a viable competitive scenario for its players, coaches, and fan base, it's right now. It may never have another opportunity.
Presently, UK basketball – both men's and women's – are at the point were they can swim with the big sharks in the ocean.
UK volleyball and women's softball appears will be very competitive in the future no matter what direction UK takes. Baseball is once again struggling and the remainder of the sports teams fielded by UK , well, let's be painfully honest, not all but most of the remaining teams are there because of our federal government’s Title IX issues. They will survive and flourish based on the revenue provided to them by the TV contracts and success of the major sports. It's doubtful any minor sports at UK will fade or fold no matter what direction the administration takes.
That takes us to the UK athletic department bell cow: football.
Don't know about you, but I've had enough SEC football to do me for 20 lifetimes. Yes, it's the ultimate fan experience if you win and yes, it's financially rewarding season ticket wise if you win and yes, it's easy to recruit at a high level if you win on a consistent basis at a high level.
Problem is unless you've been in a coma or the most stubborn sports fan of all time UK has proven over the last 50 years it can't win consistently playing in this league. UK just finished up a four-year run where it posted four consecutive winning seasons with three eight win seasons with bowl wins trumped onto the end.
Did you see any high profile recruits Saturday night running up and down the Commonwealth Stadium turf picked up off that success? I didn't.
Don't tell me about the multitudes of cash that the SEC provides for its member schools. They aren't the only conference with a new TV contract, and that is about to change as well along with the new look conferences and landscape of college football.
Where does UK go? I don't know, but it's really of a moot point because any scenario is better than the present layout of the SEC, and it looks to be an even more daunting task with more tradition rich football programs set to invade the conference in the near future.