Follow TSS on Twitter @TheStudentSect
You know when there’s something on television you really want to watch and it doesn’t come on for an hour or so, so you pop on the tube, make some food, sit your rear end on the couch, and still have 30 minutes to burn flipping channels to find something, anything to bide your time?
Since basically forever, in Kentucky, they’ve called that 30-minute block “football.” Basketball obviously is the preferred fare there, and why not, considering what a historic program the state has?
There’s a stupid theory you hear espoused every now and then about how difficult it is to win football games consistently at a “basketball” school. To me, it’s never made sense. Why can’t you use an elite basketball program to recruit football players?
“Look, come here, and when the season ends, you’re going to have one hell of a time sitting courtside or in our raucous student section watching a great basketball team and go on weekend trips across the country with your friends during NCAA tournament runs. Or you could go to (Rival U) and watch your team lose by 30 most nights.”
A good basketball program is a good recruiting tool… or at least, it certainly should be. The rub is where actual funding is compared against the ability to fund an operation; big-time basketball schools pump more into that sport than football. Kentucky is one example of a school which rightly puts an emphasis on both.
Thus begins a crucial stretch of games in the young life of an up-and-coming program.
Last week, Kentucky outlasted South Carolina for its first SEC road win in 22 games. For whatever reason, it feels like it is meant to be for Kentucky, at long last. How else would you explain South Carolina going in for a tie on a 2-point conversion and UK picking up a fumble and returning it the distance for a 4-point lead and the winning margin? That won’t happen again this year, you can bet Donald Trump’s ego on it assuming you have a U-Haul to deliver it in the rare event you lose.
Coach Mark Stoops let his players be happy, because it’s a waste of time working so damn hard to win if you can’t at least enjoy the next 24 hours when you actually do.
Over the next three weeks, Kentucky could vault itself into some serious national conversations. The Wildcats will play currently unbeaten SEC teams Florida, Missouri, and Auburn (though the Tigers should lose to LSU) in Lexington before a road game at Mississippi State and a return home date with Tennessee.
Granted, it’s a bit of a schedule made in heaven, missing Alabama, LSU, and Ole Miss, but there’s no point in apologizing for what you cannot control.
Buoyed by quarterback Patrick Towles and offensive dynamos Dorian Baker and Jojo Kemp, Kentucky is seeing the fruits of a multi-year plan, one which should at least end in a bowl game, the first in four years.
Yet, the way things are going, “only a bowl game” might be somewhat disappointing. Over the next three weeks, Kentucky football could make a strong case for an SEC East title and all the trappings that come with it.
That should be enough to do a few shots of John Calipari Maker’s Mark, Big Blue Nation. Or at the very least, get someone to kick the tires on getting a Mark Stoops Jim Beam bottle going.