UK’s on my mind again this week, but this time it’s not the round ball making news. So it’s Mark Stoops now, huh? Well, why not. Goodness knows the man is ready for a head coaching job. Let’s hope he makes it a good one.
I just remember the last coach UK hired with what the media wags labeled as having a “football pedigree.” (Yes, the infamous Bill Curry!) Speaking strictly as a Big Blue Autumn Sport Sufferer (watch those acronyms!), I just prefer we have a coach who has a sound strategy for the game and then uses it as the foundation from which to teach and recruit.
Jerry Claiborne and Rich Brooks had that. Within three years Claiborne was 9-3 and had won a bowl game, but then never was able to sustain anything more than being somewhat competitive (outside the SEC at least). He still suffered from occasional blowout losses because his Wide Tackle Six defense would break from time to time. (The Tennessee ones always irked me most.)
A rigid determination in coaching philosophy almost cost Brooks his job because of his insistence on a certain style early in his tenure when he really didn’t have the players for it. As much as faith in your way of doing things is required, a certain amount of flexibility is also prudent when circumstances dictate.
Eventually Brooks’ faith was rewarded and he is warmly regarded by many as one of Kentucky’s few successful football coaches, though none since Blanton Collier ever walked away an overall winner. Fran Curci certainly had a strategy, but he also had a bad habit of looking the other way, especially in recruiting matters.
Then there’s the “on the other hand” gang. Curry talked all the time about what football meant but he had no discernible strategy. Every year it was a different approach, whether on offense, defense or in recruiting. He borrowed too liberally from other programs (remember the “Black Watch” defense?) and next to none of his approaches were effective.
Hal Mumme had not so much a strategy as gimmicks, and that was just on offense. On defense he had nearly nothing, and by the time he left his guys had no clue how to even tackle. If you remember, you know I’m not exaggerating.
So here’s hoping Stoops knows what he’s doing, because even if he does that’s no guarantee of any success in coaching football at Kentucky. Life just ain’t fair, but then nobody ever said that was in the rule book.
As we head into lucky Week 13 in the NFL, the picks have been going extremely well, with a combined record of 45-12 the past four weeks, bringing my season total up to 113-60 for a .653 average, and, assuming I just didn’t doom myself, I’ll take it!
Saints at Falcons – Game of the Day starts early on Thursday this week with a desperate New Orleans team heading into what is surely their second favorite dome, the Georgia one. Atlanta has looked anything but impressive lately, but they continue to find ways to win and that’s hard to go against because, as Herman Edwards famously reminded us all an entire decade ago, “Hello! You play to win the game!”
The Saints cannot afford another loss if the playoffs are to remain a possibility, and it’s tough to write off such a talented team so early, but they were bitten by a big nasty snake before they even left the woods and the venom was not extracted in time. Playing on three days rest is no good for either side, but even worse for the Saints.
Patriots at Dolphins – Miami still struggles too much on defense to defeat a team of this caliber. The Dolphins are also not controlling the ball and the clock like they were six weeks ago. It’s likely to be another Brady Blowout giving the Pats another divisional crown.
Texans at Titans – The Texans win their divisional title this week, too. Tennessee is too thin at receiver and too uncertain at quarterback to beat a team like this, even at home. It’s just too much. It will be fun to watch two good running backs try to one-up each other, too. (This episode has been brought to you by the letter T.)
Colts at Lions – If Matthew Stafford has a solid game, it’s hard not to favor the home domers. They also have the benefit of getting about 10 days of rest. But I started with a really big “if.” What seems most likely is the Lions keep making mistakes (mental and physical) and Andrew keeps his Luck going for another week with the postseason now clearly in view.
Jaguars at Bills – It will be awhile before anybody can look at Jacksonville on the road as anything but a “W” for the home team, even in the case of Buffalo with their many and obvious flaws. Watching C.J. Spiller get another 100 without Maurice Jones-Drew on the field opposing will be but another phase of this largely empty experience.
Cardinals at Jets – It’s almost amazing to see how many different ways New York can find to lose the ball, the game, and their minds. Arizona hasn’t won since the calendar rolled into fall, so who really knows? I’m holding my nose and taking the home team.
Panthers at Chiefs – Cam Newton awoke from a deep, dark slumber so that Carolina could finally win again, albeit against the hapless Eagles, while Kansas City gave Denver a snoot full of home cooking before falling inevitably to 1-10. Thus endeth Week 12.
If the KC defense plays up to its potential again, which hardly seems likely given they never manage to do the same thing twice, and Jamaal Charles gets another 100 on the ground, you just have to like the Chiefs’ chances. But, as the late Coach Claiborne often said, there’s that “old if’n game” again. This time I choose the visitors, but my nose is getting sore.
Vikings at Packers – Aaron Rodgers just torches (tortures?) Minnesota. Always has. ‘Nuf said.