Tuesday, November 03, 2009

11/03/2009

We Love You Rich but Where We Going???

Let us re-visit…

So Rich Brooks comes in takes over a program that has just finished 7 and 5 but did not go to a bowl game because they were on probation… Of course the worst was yet to come and UK lived through two very very very rough seasons due to the impacts of said probation…

The probation was a huge impact because UK was already at a disadvantage from a recruiting standpoint because of the in state programs and the lack of division one talent within the state… Also the up surge of U of L football program hurt recruiting for UK to some degree…

Rich was hired by basically himself because no one really wanted the job… There were of course the rumors around Bill Parcells (he was in my opinion just using UK to get more money out of Dallas) and then the Norm Chow debacle (he wanted the job but UK would never offer it to him so he pulled out) with a possible Doug Williams hiring also in the mix… In the end no one wanted the job, except Guy Morris…

Of course this was after Barnhart literally ran Guy Morris out of town on a rail (very well paid rail by getting the Baylor job) by not showing any consideration to hiring him past the two years he was at UK… Barnhart basically wanted to hire his own man… I think he honestly thought he was going to make a big time hire like he did with Dennis Erickson when he was AD at Oregon State… Lots of other questions around why Mitch did not hire David Cutcliffe or possibly Howard Schellenbeger also and I am not sure what the back stories are around these two guys…

Without a doubt you can count me as a Rich Brooks convert… I was totally against this hire and thought he should have been fired after his third year in the program… Rich did some things along the way that saved him from a firing and pushed the program to its current status:

1. Fired OC Ron Hudson… He was terrible and he alone took a very potent offense and turned it into a complete mess in year one trying to fit a large square peg (Lorenzon) into a round hole (an option oriented run type offense)…
2. Changed to Joke Phillips at OC…
3. Hired Randy Sanders as QB coach…
4. Designed an offense around some great skill players (Woodson, Burton, Little, Johnson, etc…) and scrapped what he was trying to do when Ron Hudson was there…
5. Actually built a great recruiting base in the state and in an area of Georgia and Ohio…
6. Done pretty good recruiting the JC ranks…
7. Built a defense…

It is quite an accomplishment that Brooks has taken UK to and won three straight bowl games… The first year they beat a really good Clemson team that was ranked top ten for allot of the year… In year two they beat a name in FSU but this was not the FSU power house of the 90’s… Of course last year they beat a really good ECU team but to me that is a game and SEC team should always win against a CUSA school… You can say what you want about how many bowls there are etc… but the fact is UK has been bowl eligible getting the six wins required which is not something they did much under Claiborne, Curry or Mumme (Morris was not here long enough to put him that mix)…

There is for sure a different attitude in the players and the fans… I see it every week since I have been going to the games every week in 1999… The criticism is down and most people are happy with the direction of the program, etc… There are critics and I think the questions around that criticism are fair for several reasons…

Prior to 2009 season under Brooks UK is 2 and 29 against the big boys in the conference (UF, UT, USC, UGA, BAMA, Auburn and LSU)… They are 5 and 25 against the SEC East (four of those win are against Vandy)… UK is 14 and 20 against the remainder of the SEC… They do own a 16 winning streak against non conference opponents (games in my opinion they should win 95% of the time based on the level of competition)… The non con schedule is a weak one but because of the conference they play in “weak” non con is fair… Brooks’s overall record the last three years counting this year is 27 and 20…

Should we as fans expect more??? Is this as good as it gets??? Is UK capable of truly competing for a conference title every three to four years (I consider the 2007 season a disappointment because we should have posted at least two more regular season wins at a minimum, been in the SEC mix and gone to a bigger bowl with a chance to finish with double digit wins)… What is the standard and what should we expect as fans??? I truly expect more and do not buy this we are and will always be a basketball school… That is total BS… Just look at Tennessee and tell me that we cannot do this…

My question is this… If a school like Clemson, Texas A & M, Iowa, Ole Miss, Miss St, Arkansas, Boston College, or UCLA had the record that UK has under Coach Brooks would they consider this successful??? For sure Duke, IU, Northwestern, Baylor, Vandy and Stanford would but is that the group we want or should be expected to be lumped in with (no disrespect to those schools or their programs intended)…

I believe we as fans need to expect more but we may not get it for several reasons…


Here is how UK could compete at a high level on a consistent basis:

1. Have to recruit and sign 90% of the division one talent that is out in the state outside of Jefferson County…
2. In Jefferson County they have to get better than 70% of the D1 talent to attend UK…
3. Redshirt 9 of 10 incoming freshmen each year…
4. Recruit the JC ranks well… Much, much better then they do today… A top JC QB could go a long way this year at UK…
5. Make sure your players are the most physically fit players in the league… Look at Navy’s football team to see what I mean… They are fit to the hilt…



Even with these things year in a year out UK is going to still not be on the same level from a depth and overall talent standpoint then the big time SEC football schools… How do you over come this???

You need to run a “junk” type offense… The offense that Texas Tech or Navy runs does a couple of things… These types of offensive schemes neutralizes the talent and depth gap by spreading out the lineman which creates spacing and gaps and with the Navy offense you have allot of motion and movement which creates issues for the opposing defenses… If I were choosing I would run the Navy offense but would also work in a wishbone formation…

The flexbone and the wishbone are something that the other teams would only see once a year and it would make it very tough to prepare for UK in a one week period… The other thing you do is get the high school coaches in the state to start running these offensive patterns which create a talent pool that is easily recruitable…

Why do I think a junk offense would work??? Navy lost their starting QB last year and did not miss a beat because of the system they run… Look at Texas Tech… Their starting QB has been out (he is a first year starter) and the back up (who has never started a game) has a day that college QB’s dream about as he threw for over 400 yards in two consecutive games…


Here are eight reasons why UK “cannot” compete at a high level on a consistent basis in football:

1. UK is running a pro style offense while the rest of the SEC is running things that are geared towards college…
2. The commonwealth of Kentucky year in and year out has one of the lowest number of division one prospects compared to the other 49 states…
3. The overall population of the commonwealth leads to this low number…
4. The largest city in Kentucky is Louisville and U of L takes a large portion of D1 recruits in that city…
5. High school football in the commonwealth takes a back seat to basketball at the high school level…
6. Not every high school in the state even fields a football team…
7. There is no Spring Football at the High School level…
8. Soccer has greatly impacted the public high school football system in a very negative way… Most kids playing soccer would play football...

9. Kids playing soccer in the 8 through 12 age range are not playing Little League or prep league football… Just for example in the town I grew up this level of football had 8 to 10 teams they now have 4… Some towns now have none or to play they have to travel outside of their county…
10. Fall Baseball… Kids getting to football late or not playing football at all due to the extension of baseball…


Morgan Newton

First of all let me make it clear that I thought it was “criminal” for Rich Brooks to pull the redshirt off of Newton at the point he did… This is so unfair to this kid and to the UK program… If he was ready to play he would have been playing to this point (that is right out of Brooksy mouth before Hartline gets hurt)…

However, if you are going to pull the redshirt then he should play every down the rest of the year whether we win or lose like they did against Mississippi State… Let’s hope he continues to play a significant amount of time the rest of the year or pulling the redshirt off was a waste… For what it is worth the kid looks good… He can for sure throw the deep ball; make some plays with his fee and with his arm…

As for Hartline it is tragic that he got hurt… If UK beats USC or Auburn they have a chance to go on a run over the next several weeks and for sure would become bowl eligible (take care of the home turf and you win eight games)… Hartline’s play against Bama and Florida was poor indeed but look at the numbers for all the QB’s who have played against these teams to this point and you will see a pattern… The kid was not as bad as people wanted to believe myself included…

Very tough to swallow but lack of depth and having to play freshmen vs. redshirting almost all of them is one of the reason UK will have a tough time consistently competing at a high level in the SEC… I do believe they can and should maintain where they are today (lower level in the SEC) but should win six games in most years…

As for Newton’s play against Mississippi State I thought he did well and it was the right thing to do to let him play the entire game… Barring and injury he should play every snap the rest of the year…


Auburn Game

Surprise, Surprise… Have not beaten them since 1964 and we pulled off the win… Our defense played great on the road against a team that to this point had one of the top offenses in the SEC… Newton played well for the time he was in the game and hats off to Will Fidler for coming in to the game in relief and playing well completing a big fourth down pass…

Hail to Randell Cobb… Without him I have no idea where this game or this team would be… What a special, special player…

I thought at this point UK would be 3 and 3 and they are 3 and 3… ULM is a trap game (22 Offensive points and 16 came from either special teams or defense) and Mississippi State is going to be a tough one (we freaking lost, bullshit)… Can this team beat Eastern, win at Vandy and then somehow beat UGA or UT??? I doubt it based on what I saw against Mississippi State…


Miss State Game

Some people call Brooksy “Big Game Brooksy” but I go with “Bowl Game Brooksy”… In my opinion Brooksy has failed to win the three of the biggest games of his coaching career at UK… Those three being Mississippi State this year, Vanderbilt last year and Mississippi State two years ago… …

Two years ago after coming off of a win over LSU, having ESPN game day on campus the next week, ranked in the top 10 UK has a chance to beat Florida but just ran out of gas… A loss is never OK but the fact that we competed with Florida and were getting allot of hype nationally…

The next week a very bad Mississippi State team shows up and UK drops a bomb… Never even competed in the game…

Last year UK loses to a really good Vandy team at home… Problem is you should never, ever, ever lose to Vany at home… I mean NEVER!!!

Then on Saturday a very good Mississippi State team comes in (their five losses are all to ranked opponents) and the UK defense plays it’s worst game of the year (even worse than the Florida game) and Joker Phillips play calling is very suspect… In this game UK has the ball inside the Mississippi State 15 yare and on seven consecutive plays the best player on the team Antwan Randell Tex Cobb does not touch the ball one time… After the game UK Coach Rich Brooks says that was a mistake… Really Rich... You are a rocket scientist!!! Even the casual fan in the stands questioned that one… Did you nor Joker not learn one thing from the two point conversion debacle at South Carolina??? Guess not…

What I do not understand is going for it on fourth and two even though you made it on the next to last series… Kick the field goal and then put it on your defense to make a stop to get the ball back so you can now try to drive down the field for the win Vs a tie and if you miss the field goal then you are winning the field position game and you are asking your defense to still make a stop and you are back to a tie… Even if you miss the field goal you still have a chance… No matter how bad the defense was playing you have to play the percentages there and you did not… Reminds me of the on side kick call made in the Florida game at home three season ago putting the game on the line way to early and you had a kicker who was putting it out of the end zone or the Music City Bowl game where we elected to take points off the board and go for a touchdown at the end of the half which almost in the end cost you the game…

I have said it once and I will say it again… I love that Rich Brooks has restored some excitement and some honor back in the UK program… He has won some big games (LSU and Louisville when they were in the top 10) but failed to follow those wins up with what we as fans are looking for which is a regular season with eight or nine wins… My opinion however of him about one thing has not changed…

Rich Brooks is an “average” football coach… He showed why Saturday night against a team he should have beaten… He has had allot of time to figure it out but there are reasons he has a below five hundred career winning percentage even if you throw out the first ten years at Oregon and the first three years at Kentucky… It has to do with decision making…

I am also at this point not convinced that Joker Phillips is going to be a coach that will take this program to the next level… As a matter of fact you can put me on record today that he will not make that happen but this does not mean I will not be pulling for him really hard to do so… He is a great person and he is a great recruiter but you cannot succeed at Kentucky trying to run a pro style offense year in and year out… Look what Mississippi State did last night running a “junk” style college offense… Mississippi State and UK are on about equal footing as to football program stature but they (Mississippi State) have better coaching and that showed through last night… Even Rich Brooks admitted after the game that they not only got out played but they got out coached…

UK does not and will not ever be able to recruit the type of atheletes year in and year out do run a pro style offense… We are not in the same league as teams like Southern Cal, Tennessee and Alabama who run these type of sets… I may be wrong but I do not see that happening…

The shame to me is when Rich retires this is an opportunity for UK to hire a proven coach like Brian Kelly at Cincy, Ken Nutlimindo at Navy, Chris Petersen at Boise State or Mike Leach at Texas Tech… All these guys will get and upgrade in the next two years (Petersen says he has not interest in leaving Boise State)…

Again I LIKE Brooksy (and Joker) and I am very glad he and his staff has done the things he has done for this program and that UK has some very good and respectable student athletes but lets move forward… He has taken us as far as he can or who knows maybe he has take UK Football as far as it can ever go…


Redbirds

Very disappointing end to the season… I was really afraid that St Louis peaked too early and obviously they did… Wainwright pitched a couple of late regular season games like Game 2 where he pitched great and the team just did not score enough runs… Of course game 2 was a complete debacle…

You need two outs to win the game… Are you going to go to a pitcher who has not had a save since September 5th or are you going to go to Hall of Famer John Smotlz… I am going to Smoltz… See what Smoltz did when he finally got in during game 3??? He strikes out five in a row…

Not sure but I think my visit to Wrigley Field in late September to watch the Cubs and Reds was a jinx… St Louis went right in the tank after that game… Maybe this one is on me… LOL

Damn Yankees… I just can’t hate on them though because I like Jeter and their manager Joe Girardi but I am for the Phillies…


Random

- According to Rich Brooks John Conner is one of the best fullbacks in college football... How come he does not touch the ball???


- If you look up the baseball definition of a double steal is when a runner on 2nd steals 3rd and the runner on first steals second… This could also mean a rare steal of home and third which is probably as rare as Johnny Damon stealing two based on one pitch game four of the World Series… Something that Elias Sports Bureau says may have never been done before in a World Series and is one of those things that is probably in line with the rare unassited triple play as to how often in has ever occurred in any game period…



- At this point in the season Randell Cobb has almost 300 yards rushing, 300 yards receiving, 300 yards on kick returns and 300 yards on punt returns… And he did not touch the ball in the entire 4th quarter against Mississippi State on offense… COME ON JOKER…


- How bad is the UK loss to Mississippi State??? The most positive and eternal optimist of the UK Football program Mark Sheets says after last night performance he is done, through, finished and is not going to waste his time coming next week… He has earned that right…


- Albert Puljos set a major league record for assists by First Basemen this year… Think about that for a moment… He is a converted first baseman a guy known for his offense but the fact is he is a great defensive player also… In Game one of the NLDS he made two great plays in the field that shows how good a fielder he really is…


- I am not a fan of Mark McGwire being the Redbird hitting coach… But…….. Better results will quickly change my mind… I hope he finally admits the use of steroids so the media can move on and so can he…


- People who say Bobby Bowden and Joe Pa have earned the right to retire are dead wrong in my opinion… If you have a guy in the business world who has been a great CEO for twenty plus years and then all of the sudden due to age, progression of business or changes in the business climate or for whatever reason the company is starting to go in the tank and there is a need for new direction has this person earned the right to step down when they want to because of all the good things they have done or are they allowed to run the company into the ground first???


- Saw on ESPN for their first 42 playoff games A Rod has better number than Mr. October… In game 43 Mr. October had 3 home runs of course but by the time A Rod completes game 43 he will still have more RBI’s and a better batting average… Not taking anything from Reggie because he did his damage on a bigger stage and that means more to me than what A Rod has accomplished…


- I am sick and tired of hearing that UK has lost 15 straight football games to this team, twenty five to this team, ten of last eleven to this team, etc, etc… My wife says get over we are just never going to be any better in football than we have been the last three years… Is she right??? Auburn win gives me hope; Mississippi State game puts my back in UK Football Reality…


- There was something crazy in the Phillies and Dodgers game in the NLCS where there was an 8, 6, 3 double play which has only happened one other time in the post season…


- I think John Calipari really gets what being the UK Basketball coach means… The fact that he and his son went down and camped out with the people waiting for Midnight Madness tickets and actually interacting with them was a statement… Rick Pitino got it but he would have never done some of the things that Cal has done with the fans… I like what I see so far… This team is stacked with talent… I mean stacked…


- The John Wall thing is not recruiting related or any type of potential violation by UK… UK will not play him if he is not cleared… Looks like he may miss three to five games… Does not matter… More than one person I know has watched the open gym games this summer and one person thought the entire time that the best player on the floor was John Wall who later turned out to be Eric Bledsoe… I have had another person tell me that from what they saw Bledsoe can match Wall step for step… The pundits will pick on UK now for the next several years everyone time there is a sniff of something that will always probably turn out to be nothing… Love to hate us…


- U of L fan told me this week that he watched UK’s midnight madness and thought the players looked terrible and there is no way that this team will win anything… He predicted fifteen wins if that was his comment… I asked him why and he said well they have practiced all summer and look how bad they looked (I watched the intros and then turned it off because at that point forward you are going to get nothing)… He said that U of L looks great and that Pitino and the staff have been working with them all summer and he was not sure what Calipari had been doing… My reply was he (Cal) was not working with them all summer because that would be an NCAA violation… The coaches cannot start working with the players until October 24th… Any coaching done prior to that date is an NCAA violation…


- UNC fans says glad to see the passion back in UK Basketball even if Calipari is a crook… Said, “UK has not done much since Adolph Rupp retired, like UNC has and he hopes we start having good teams again...” Hmmmm… Since Rupp retired UK has won three National Championships, an NIT Championship when that still meant something (1977) and been to four other Final Fours… My comment back was UCLA fan told me the eighth championship was the hardest one to win…


- Great stat during the first game of the World Series was Chase Utley, who is a lefty hit two home runs in the same game off of a left hander pitcher… Only other person to accomplish this feat was George Herman Ruth…


- I am loving that people are hating on UK Basketball again… That is the first step back…


Music


We bought a Coldplay four pack of CD’s… We listened to them yesterday going to the football game and there is not a bad song on any one of the four… For sure a band I want to see in concert…