I’m tired. I’m actually sick and tired–nauseated and exhausted by the numerous false promises, last-second-heartbreak, and general negativity associated with the UK Football program over the past few decades. Like many of you, I no longer have the patience or willingness to accept the myriad of blown calls, game changing turnovers, or bad clock management that seem to mockingly plague our beloved Cats year after year. Unlike many of you though, I’m turning over a new leaf this season–believe it or not. I hereby revoke my annual membership as a long-suffering UK football fan and joyfully resign my commission from the fellowship of the miserable. Whether Norman Vincent Peale or Philippians 4:8, I’m enacting the power of positive thinking to will this year’s version of the gridiron Wildcats to surprising and unimaginable heights of glory.
I don’t blame you if you don’t believe me. The inglorious history of the University of Kentucky Football Wildcats is replete with the agony of gut-wrenching, last-minute defeats. The Bluegrass Miracle against LSU, first-and-goal at the Vandy One, and Marty Moore’s Peach Bowl fumble come immediately to mind. Every year, we hopeful football die-hards come out of basketball hibernation with visions of winning seasons, bowl trips, and that elusive victory over Florida dancing in our delusional minds only to be met with the stark reality of another doormat finish in the SEC East. We dare to dream of upsets between the hedges, sinking the Commodores once and for all, and silencing Rocky Top only to wake up to the nightmare of another dropped pass, blocked punt, holding penalty, or missed field goal ruining our plans for that long-awaited bowl trip to Shreveport in December. Seriously, we don’t ask for much, but we still just can’t win–literally.
This year, things are going to be different. Coach Stoops and his all-star staff will finally cross the Rubicon of futility and propel our Cats to those rarefied heights. Here’s how it’s all going to shake down. An old fashioned beat down of Southern Miss on opening night will have ex-offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson hankering for the days of Patty Ice. Blowout victories over New Mexico State and Austin Peay are sure to follow. Vandy will also go down easily, followed by hard fought squeakers over South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Missouri.
The remaining big boys on the schedule will undoubtedly constitute the season’s biggest challenges. Only a lunatic would predict a road victory against Alabama. Despite the scorn of being jilted by Mac Jones and his giddy social media posts, I’m not quite that delusional yet. The Cats will play hard but won’t have enough depth to wipe that smirk off of Nick Saban’s well-paid face. The same can be said for the road trip to Florida. After being teased and taunted the last couple of years as gator bait, I promised I would never predict a UK victory ever again. Thus, I’m sad to say that the losing streak will continue–probably in perpetuity, or at least for my lifetime. Unfortunately, the visit to Neyland Stadium will also end in similar disappointment. The Vols are back as we grudgingly realize we missed the golden opportunity to kick the rocky top out of them when they were down.
But remember, this isn’t one of those two-win seasons we’re all too familiar with. This is the year of positive thinking. It’ll be one of those magical nights in Commonwealth when Georgia comes to town in early November. The stars will all align as the only “hunkering down” will be by Wildcats rather than Bulldogs. The many stadium ghosts will finally be exorcised as Stoops gets his first real signature win. The good karma continues as the Cats travel up I-64 to put a season ending whooping on Papa John’s Cardinals.
According to my count, that makes us 9-3. Yup, that’s right. Nine wins and three losses–good enough for a major bowl trip south of Nashville. Those of you laughing in my face are free to continue to wallow in the tradition of the last half-century of UK football ineptness. As for me, I feel like a new man–liberated from the shackles of losing seasons and moral victories. You’re more than welcome to enjoy the ride with me at any time. Just remember you heard it here first.