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Last updated: September 01. 2014 8:28PM - 507 Views
By Charles D. Smith Contributing Columnist



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On January 1, 1952, Kentucky played and defeated Texas Christian at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas


I was born about eight months later, on Aug. 3, 1952, so I just turned 62. I’m excited to know I am now retirement age, but frustrated that the last major bowl game Kentucky appeared in was before my birth.


Over the years, many, many changes have taken place in American society and in my life, but several things have remained constant, among them the attempts by the Big Blue to turn the football program around and recapture some of the glory years from the Bear Bryant era.


Coach Mark Stoops is the latest and greatest incarnation of a Big Blue coaching savior; following in the footsteps of Charlie Bradshaw, John Ray, Fran Curcci, Jerry Claiborne, Bill Curry, Hal Mumme, Guy Morris, Rich Brooks and Joker Phillips, most of whom arrived with a tremendous amount of hype, only to fall out of favor with BBN after a few years.


Will Stoops be able to get UK to a level where they are relevant in the football crazy SEC? Can Stoops get us to a bowl game? A major bowl game? Will Kentucky appear in a major bowl game during my lifetime? If so, will I be young enough and able enough to go?


My Uncle Elmer Lee always cautioned me against drinking the Big Blue Kool-Aid, but it is very hard for me to resist taking a swig after Saturday’s near perfect performance in Commonwealth Stadium by the Cats.


Most Kentucky fans are happiest when we have a homegrown quarterback. Saturday, Patrick Towles looked very much the part of a poised, skilled and confident player. The expectations that followed him from Fort Thomas Highlands three years ago seem to be coming to fruition.


Coach Stoops and Company are trying very hard to upgrade the skill level and add depth at all positions. Many, many different faces from last year played Saturday, including Juco transfers, redshirt freshman and true freshman, most of whom left an impact on the scoreboard in the rout of UT Martin, 59–14.


Saturday’s game got me thinking: With the playoff system in effect this year there will now be six major bowl games each New Years holiday. Each year two of these bowl games will be the national semi-finals of the new national championship format. The teams selected for the modern major bowl games (Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Cotton, Orange and Peach) will now be chosen by a 13-member committee instead of the polls or a computer.


With 12 spots in the six major bowls, the SEC will probably get at least four spots. Can Kentucky (which seems to be stuck on the lower rung of the SEC ladder) climb over eight or 10 teams to get into the top four, making themselves eligible for one of the treasured major bowl spots?


The majority of even the most optimistic pundits predict a four-win season with five wins being a best-case possibility. Next week’s game against the Ohio University Bobcats (participants in five straight bowl games) should be more of an indicator of how good this UK team can be. Or, it could show fans how much work remains to be done for UK to become a serious competitor in the cutthroat world of SEC football.


Sorry Uncle Elmer Lee, but the Big Blue Kool-Aid is so inviting. If Georgia Southern University can beat Florida in The Swamp, why can’t we? Thursday’s SEC network football premier saw South Carolina and Vanderbilt get soundly beaten. We play both of them at home this year. With a more confident team, the experienced second-year coaching staff and a partisan crowd, a 5-0 start is possible.


Oh, this Big Blue Kool-Aid is delicious. And so refreshing.


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