Let’s go ahead and get the obvious out of the way.
This is a BIG loss.
Not just on a scoreboard, or on a stat sheet, but for the entire morale of the program.
We saw the Cats come out with energy in an incredible first half performance that saw UK leading USM by double digits with three interceptions, all at the half.
But then we realized that we were watching a movie we had already seen, and before we knew it all of those excited feelings and thoughts that we so cautiously embraced were slammed back in our faces yet again as Kentucky completely collapsed in the second half to the tune of allowing 34 unanswered points to USM.
As the fans lined out of the “new” Commonwealth Stadium, I couldn’t help but to feel like this was indeed a movie I had seen so many times, but it almost felt like it also could have ended differently.
On The Mills Show Saturday morning Max Godby of the BBN Chalk Toss Podcast (@bbnchalktalk) talked about how it was going to take time, perhaps a much longer time than we all think, to change the culture at UK.
We are a basketball school.
We always have been, we always will be.
But who’s to say we can’t also be a football school?
We are the ones that say that we can’t, because as the 4th quarter hit the midway point with the Cats only down by a touchdown you could see lines of fans emptying out of their seats and to the parking lot. If you looked over at the student section you saw what was left of the fans that didn’t leave at halftime to whatever party they were going to, also leaving.
I couldn’t help but to ask myself the following –
“If the UK men’s basketball team was playing in Rupp Arena, and they had blown a lead with seven minutes left in the second half, would this be the scene?
Would the eRUPPtion Zone be partially empty? Would fans be going to their cars to beat traffic? Would the fans have left at halftime even with Kentucky winning?
If you seriously asked yourself those questions, you wasted your time. You already know the answer.
There were points in this game where I thought to myself that maybe if the fans just got up and got behind the team, maybe if they just made some noise and roared at every play, it would bring some energy back to this team that looked completely shell shocked for the entire second half.
Sure, it is hard to stay excited when your team gives up 34 unanswered points. I get it.
But if USM scored ten straight points against the basketball Cats, with three minutes left in the game, the energy in Rupp would be off the charts trying to get the Cats back into the game.
We have seen Rupp Arena stand completely on it’s feet and not sit down for an entire half at some basketball games. When was the last time you saw that at Commonwealth with the Cats down?
I’m not suggesting that Kentucky has bad fans, I’m not even saying that we have lazy fans. What I am saying is that if we expect other programs, top recruits, the media, and all of these other things that tend to not be attracted to the idea of UK Football, how can we not take it just as seriously as basketball?
That includes when the Cats make a bad pass, an interception, consecutive unanswered points, and really bad decision making.
With this team, the BBN has to be ALL IN.
ALL IN is not a pretty term.
It requires you to be fully devoted to it when it isn’t easy, when it doesn’t seem like there is a bright spot waiting for us if we stick it out.
ALL IN means that you have to ALWAYS BELIEVE.
Belief in something requires faith, faith requires devotion, and devotion is one of the most simple ways to describe something we do because we love it.
BBN, we have a tough few games coming up, and tonight was not a good indicator of success against these teams, but you can’t quit.
We have to rally behind this team, this program, this coaching staff and be ALL IN.
Imagine how much different a mindset can be with 50,000 roaring fans giving you that energy you need to walk out and make another big defensive play, or one big running play to get to the end zone.
BBN, (especially the students), it’s time to regroup, rededicate, and remember that this program even with it’s flaws, has the potential to be a powerhouse in the SEC at some point. We have the facilities, we have the fan base, we have the blueprint, we just have to put in the work.
It all starts with you.
Come to the games, tailgate, buy a UK Football shirt, tweet out your thoughts on the games as they happen, but most of all, don’t just give up and quit just yet. I’ve seen too much quitting, I want to see something different.
One of my favorite sayings is that “There’s always next year.”
It’s a time-tested phrase in the BBN, but sometimes I wonder just how much more that it would mean if our students and our fans put the same energy into football as they do basketball, and the rest of the country saw us do that, so that if the day ever comes when Kentucky makes it back to a National Championship level in football, we can all say we endured the ride to get there with them, not against them.