Saturday, September 10, 2016

Big Blue Sadness: The State of University of Kentucky Football




Being a University of Kentucky Football fan sucks.

Yeah, I know. Huge revelation there. But stick with me for a minute.

Ever wonder why UK football fans get more angry and despondent than most other fans of losing programs? I mean, we should be used to it, right? There are plenty of other bad teams out there. What makes us so special that we demand consistent excellence where none has existence for decades? Why keep getting our hopes up like Charlie Brown kicking a field goal with Lucy holding the football? Just accept that we aren't good and enjoy the rare years that we are. We've got a great basketball team, anyway, so why not just focus on that?

Believe me when I say that we've tried all those methods and then some with no effect. It would be infinitely easier and less painful if the team was consistently terrible, like they were today against Florida. But part of what makes watching our team implode on national television especially painful is how close we've been in the past. 

No other Division I college football program in the country is more proficient at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory than the University of Kentucky. 

Listed below are a few examples of my 'favorite' Kentucky losses from this century. I won't go back into the 1900's due to my relatively limited experience and the sake of my mental health.

These are not just close or tough losses. Everyone has those. These are games were Kentucky had the win in hand, looked at it, and then politely handed it over to the other team. Join me now on a barefoot trip down memory lane paved with broken glass and stray Legos:


*****


- November 17, 2001. The 2-7 Wildcats face off against the #6 Tennessee Volunteers and somehow build up a 3-touchdown lead by the second quarter. As if that weren't great enough, The UT Band was forced to watch it silently while not playing Rocky Top every two minutes! Then things started to turn around. Going into the fourth, Kentucky still clung to a 1-touchdown advantage, but eventually lost 38-35.


- September 28, 2002. A 4-0 team Kentucky travels down to the Swamp in Florida. They overcome a 19-0 deficit to actually take a 28-25 late over the No. 20 Gators in the third quarter. They ended up losing 41-34. I may have cried. Don't judge me.


- October 12, 2002. The very next week, excitement buzzed around the campus as ESPN followed our team around school for a special feature. It all led up to a huge SEC showdown with South Carolina. Going into the fourth quarter, the Wildcats held a 1-touchdown advantage. You can probably guess by this point how the game ended; a 16-12 loss for the Wildcats.


- November 9, 2002. Commonly known as the Bluegrass Miracle, this game...yeah, I can't do this. That game deserves its own post. Just know that if you watch the video below, I was one of the students on the other side of the field, my hand on a goalpost and ready to climb. I still get sick thinking about it. #16 LSU beats Kentucky (and my soul) 33-30.





- September 30, 2003. Kentucky leads the #25 Florida Gators 20-9 with less then 7 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. It was Gator QB Chris Leak's first start. His dad had gone on national TV during the game and made a complete ass out of himself (I thought) by saying this was a good first start for his son since playing Kentucky wouldn't be too hard. Surely the forces of probability and karma would converge and result in a UK win, right? Nope. We lost 24-21.



- November 3, 2003. Kentucky and Arkansa battle it out through 7 overtimes, the longest game in NCAA history. We all knew what was coming, but did they really have to drag it out? UK loses 71-63.



- October 16, 2004. If there's one thing Kentucky does well, it's make bad quarterbacks look good. The Gamecocks' fourth string (!) QB Mike Rathe leads his team from behind in the fourth quarter to beat the Cats 12-7.



- November 25 2006. Kentucky holds a bizarre 12-10 lead over Tennessee into the fourth quarter, which is summarily converted into a 17-12 UT win. After the game, Vols coach Phil Fulmer said "It's great to win when you don't play particularly well." Thanks for rubbing it in, jackass.



- November 25, 2007. After a brilliant fourth quarter comeback, the Wildcats put themselves in position to beat #18 Tennessee. Unfortunately, those chances evaporated in the scoreless second overtime when Lones Seiber's 35-yard field goal was blocked. Two more OTs later, the Vols had defeated the Cats 52-50.




*** LARGE GAP OF TIME FOR THE JOKER PHILLIPS YEARS ***
(WHEN COMING CLOSE WAS THE LEAST OF OUR CONCERNS)



- September 14, 2014. Kentucky vs. Florida in the Swamp. Three overtimes.. And of course, this.




Hard to blame the team for that one. I don't care what the SEC says. We got jobbed. But there's no asterisk or change forthcoming, so might as well accept it. Kentucky loses 36-30.



- November 29, 2014. With bowl eligibility and state bragging rights on the line, Kentucky jumped out to a 13-0 lead over #22 Louisville. UL's star quarterback, Reggie Bonnafan gets injured, forcing them to put in this kid...





...Lexington native and Soulja Boy enthusiast, Kyle Bolin. Bolin still had a big chip on his shoulder over how UK's coaching staff completely bungled his recruiting process. Perhaps that was what helped inspire him to completely go off and torch UK in the second half, leading to a 44-40 UL win.



- November 14, 2015. When you can't score a touchdown from the goal line once, that's rough. When you can't do it twice, that's bad. When you can't do it twice against Vanderbilt, it's inexcusable and utterly depressing. Kentucky loses to Vandy 21-17



- November 28, 2015. With bowl eligibility and state bragging rights on the line, Kentucky jumped out to a 24-7 first half lead over Louisville. Once the third quarter started, the Wildcats engineered one of the most impressive second half collapses of all time, eventually losing the the Cardinals 38-24
That's right. UK didn't score a single point in the third or fourth quarter. 

As if that weren't embarrassing enough, Bobby Petrino celebrated the win with a poorly executed dab.






Surely the coaches would never let the team suffer an indignity like this again, right? 


- September 3, 2016. Kentucky opens the season against Southern Mississippi, who just hired their embattled former offensive coordinator, Shannon Dawson. After struggling a bit in the first quarter, UK rolls to a 35-10 halftime lead...sort of. Southern Miss scored on a busted coverage right before the clock ran out to make it 35-17, but still, we were in good shape. Unfortunately, we are also Kentucky. Southern Miss torches the Cats in the second half for a 44-35 victory.


*****

There may be more this year, but only if we're lucky. The team looks so bad right now that we'll be lucky to get that close...and if we do, you can all but guarantee that Lucy won't have the laces down.

Oh well. At least the NFL starts tomorrow. As an Atlanta Falcons fan with three fantasy football teams, that should still be relatively enjoyable.

Right?




Lones Seiber definitely had better hair than Chucky B.


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