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An Open Letter to Big Blue Nation by former Kentucky Offensive Lineman, Max Godby

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An Open Letter to Big Blue Nation by former Kentucky Offensive Lineman, Max Godby

Photo: Andrew Bishop, CameronMillsRadio.com

Dear BBN,

I understand your pain — more than you know. Saturday night, I sat in shock and denial like most fans in the stands during the second half of that game. My excitement to see this team’s potential drained right out of me. But unlike most, my first thought was not to throw in the towel and write off the season. This team stands at a fork in the road, and the team must choose which road to take for this 2016 season.

Of course social media was in rare form Saturday night and most of Sunday. Fans signed into their accounts and expressed their views of this team. While I am two years removed from wearing that blue jersey and running out of that tunnel to represent the state I call home, the words expressed still hurt — especially from fans that have not invested the same as this team. Everyone’s hopes and dreams for this 2016 team were shaken, but imagine how the players feel.

After the game, I wrote a simple message on Twitter: “This team needs BBN now more than ever. There are still eleven more games. The season is not over.” One fan’s response to this post was: “Followed UK FB for over 50 yrs. Will never give up on my TEAM…” The next response read: “BBN needs this team to not embarrass us too.”

When have we, the fans, become the emperor watching gladiators and people beneath us compete only for our entitled amusement? Can we remember these are eighteen to twenty-three year olds? Are we truly going to let something that happens on a painted, plastic field dictate our happiness and joy in life? I love winning more than anyone, but we need to look at the heart. It’s a game played by college students. The sun still rises, and life goes on.

I understand there is an economic investment in tickets, gear, tailgating and travel. Please, know my heart as I write this letter. I know there is an emotional connection as well, but it has always made me flinch to hear fans tell me how invested they are into this football program. They tell me how they are “All In.” BBN, if you are truly invested in this football program and want to see the team compete and win, you would not be writing the things that you are writing. You would not be saying the words that you are saying at work. If you are truly invested in this team, you will not abandon them.

Fans will never be able to imagine going through 5am workouts. While the rest of the state is asleep, we are doing heavy squats with bars and chains on our backs. In the heat of summer, we are running sprints and explosive workouts on turf so hot it begins to melt our cleats. While the rest of the state works their day jobs, we practice for hours in camp, two a days, rehab and countless meetings and film sessions. Players invest everything into the twelve guaranteed chances to play in a season. The price to play college football is extremely high.

One of my most memorable teams I ever had the honor of being a part of was the 2012 UK team–yes the one that went 2-10. The season started with great fan support and a sea of blue at Commonwealth Stadium. By November against Vandy, there were less than 15,000 fans in the stands. That takes a toll on a player, mentally, physically and emotionally. I remember how that was the first year I saw a group of players stop playing for a fan base and play for each other and their coaching staff. We only had one another to lean on through that season. While we lost games, we never quit. We fought to the very bloody end. After the season, a fan approached me while I ate breakfast at a local spot. He began to tell me how he was a proud season ticket holder. I asked him a simple question: “Were you at the Vanderbilt game?” He grew pale almost instantaneously. He began to stutter and explain. “That game was a protest of the coaching staff, not you guys.” I sat in disbelief at his response. I paused and simply said, “We sure weren’t feeling the support either.” This was one of a very few negative experiences I ever encountered with a fan.

Please know my heart, BBN. This is not a “shame on you” letter. This is not a letter saying we, as a fan base, cannot take an honest assessment of what happened on Saturday. All I ask is that you watch what you are saying and be consistent. If last Saturday morning, you said that you are excited for this season and couldn’t wait to go to the games, I pray you still go. If you were singing the high praises of a player to your friends, don’t hide behind a computer or phone and talk down about him.

I understand your frustration. The good Lord knows I am frustrated. Before you write or say anything, think about Courtney Love (MLB), who played his heart out, who represents everything you would want in a student athlete. Think about Jon Toth, who worked his tail off to become one of the best centers in the SEC and is an unbelievable leader for this team. Think about Jacob Hyde, who loves this state and its people probably even more than I do, and he goes well beyond the call of duty to put the team before himself. Think of the young guys, Tavin Richardson, Landon Young, Kash Daniels and Drake Jackson. Would you say the same things if you were looking them in the eyes?

We want this team to improve, but BBN, we can play a role. If we decide to put Southern Miss behind us and still show our unrelenting passion, this team will respond. If we choose to call it quits and write off the season, then the team that we claim to love and follow will notice, and it won’t make the situation any better. I know my family and I will be sitting in our same seats September 16th. I can’t wait to see you all there, too.

 

– Max Godby, Kentucky Offensive Line 2010-2014

 

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43 Comments

  1. Kelly Hamilton says:

    Well stated

  2. Maud says:

    Thank you for writing my thoughts but much more eloquently. Coming from a former player it will receive more attention from fans. Additionally think about recruits. If we abandon this team, we are also abandoning future recruits and will be limiting the ongoing potential of the team!

  3. Jim Blanton says:

    Thanks Max for your views I will always support The Cats I hope we can pull off a victory against the Gators and move forward from here Go Cats

    • Ray Hammond Jr says:

      Get rid of Mark Stupid!

      • Wallace Allen says:

        Get rid of you. You friggin’ idiot.

      • Wills says:

        You are the perfect example of what is wrong with Kentucky football “fans”. Your juvenile response of name calling and three year old fit is not the support or fanbase our players and coaches need. As a lifelong Penn State fan, who has lived in KY for 23 years I consistently say UK football “fans” don’t get it. You are so spoiled by the winning tradition of basketball that you are clueless to the difference in programs, how much more difficult it is to have a marquis football program, that there are so many more factors involved in football. I have thrown my life long passion for football, instilled in me through all the Penn State football experiences, and have applied it to UK. These players need us! They don’t need selfish fans who can’t be happy without a win, but fans who understand they are kids and we will cheer them to the best versions of themselves, with the hope they just might be part of the very small number to see their dreams come true. I have never been so embarrassed to attach my name to a “fanbase” as the year fans decided Coach Brooks needed to see paperbags over their faces during games. Again such a juvenile response from “adults”. Unfortunately Saturday night I felt this “fanbase” went back to that same emotional and reactionary place. We will never get recruits and mentally strong players until the fans become mentally strong. The fan support even when it is ugly is the only thing that pushes these young men. They want a I do their best, but when hearing boos and disparenging comments there is nothing to push them forward. Our family stays to the end of every game, that is what a true football fan does. Though Joker’s last season was very embarrassing, I am proud to say that I was one of the adults who stood among the 15,000 present at the Vandy game to support the young men. This season and every one to follow our family will continue to provide type of fan support for our football team deserves, one that has been instilled by the legacy of Penn State football tradition.

  4. Quentin McWhorter says:

    Well, we will be there on Sept. 17, I am afraid if you are there on the 16th you will be lonely, .Max.

  5. CatLady says:

    Season ticket holder since 1969. Have seen it all in those years. I will be in my seats the 16th. GO CATS!!!!!

  6. Justin McMillan says:

    I needed this. Thank you Max. I’ll be there too.

    Section 30 Row 4

  7. Ron Lawson says:

    Max, well spoken. There is another perspective you cannot see. Many of us have watched for 50 years or more and seen the same results. I really do appreciate the effort made by the players. My issue is with the 50 years worth of Presidents, Athletic Directors and Head Coaches who have year in and year out allowed this mediocrity to persist. It is obvious that we simply do not recruit and attract competitive players. It is the AD’s job to hire that Head Coach who has the full package of credentials that do attract the best players. In 50+ years we have not hired one single head coach who has shown that ability. Why?

  8. Maggie says:

    We will be in our seats next home game. Never a doubt abt that.we appreciate the teams effort. We are all family. My Husband was a trainer for UK. He bleeds blue for the team. When you hurt he hurts. There is no quitting, for the team, coaches, or fans.

  9. Latonia Meadows says:

    Very well spoken Max. Thank you for standing up for a team that doesn’t get any respect simply because they’re not basketball. I’m not only a fan, I am the proud mother of #73. I will continue to support come rain or shine, in the cold, whether they win or lose and long after he’s gone. As a former student athlete I truly understand their struggle. Without the fans moral is low. I’ll be at every home game screaming and cheering as loud as I can and at home watching the away games doing the same. GO CATS!!!

  10. Joe blow says:

    You are why we will never compete

  11. John Conaway says:

    Not a single one of the ‘negative nellies’ would dare say anything to a player or coach
    Keyboard warriors, one and all. I hope that ALL of the boo and bail “fans” stay away and never return. They are emotionally taxing to the true fans of the program.

  12. Pat says:

    Keep up the good work…….win or lose………we’ll be watching!

  13. Alice says:

    Maybe if everyone could talk to these young men they would see that no matter how bad we feel they feel worse. We met Courtney Love while taking a tour of CWS. He was a great young man. I was so proud of the interview he gave after the game. No matter how the reporters tried he stayed positive. Maybe we should all take a lesson from him.

  14. Asim Rose Sr. says:

    @ the end of the day “TRUST THE PROCESS” I DO!! 1GAME, REALLY.. UK MOVE ON…. OUR BOYS OUR FINE we will BOUNCE BACK IN REAR FORM. “I BELIEVE DO U”SQUAD”

  15. Carl Marshall says:

    Thanks, man. I agree completely. Well said. Hang in there Cats. I have driven to games from Paducah with my son for years. I never felt that the team owed ME anything for that. They do owe their best effort every day to their teammates, in my opinion. Let’s hope they honor that obligation every single game.

  16. John Moore says:

    Great letter, Max. Thanks for the perspective. It is much more impactful coming from someone who has been there. I admit that I had some pretty negative moments during that second half, but when it was all over I’d had a nice evening spending three hours watching football with my son. And then I went to bed. No ice, no pain, no media, and no preparing for Florida. Being a fan is a pretty easy gig. We all ought to remember that.

  17. Jesus H. Chrysler says:

    If participating on a 2-10 team was an honor, you’re part of the problem at UK. At least your personal & professional goals will be much more easily attained in life. I’ll give you credit, because in fact, most fans don’t get to experience the 5am workouts. Then you’ll need to give us credit, because only now you’re getting to experience the true side of the long suffering fandom that is UK football.

    For your next literary abomination, be sure they spell your name tag correctly.

    • Blue Tide says:

      Man, brother, you SAID it!

    • Kmills says:

      Maybe a lot of people put way too much emphasis on a “game”….. (The nation as a whole, actually). I like watching the games, but 10 minutes later, I’m on with more important life priorities…..a wise woman would always reminded me, ” we LOVE people …we we are to LIKE things ( insert a ball game)…. Not the other way around. It is more fun to win, but if it isn’t in the cards, it just isn’t. Get on with life, don’t waste precious time whining. If it causes that much upset, maybe you need to find something else to do…..its. GAME…..there will be thousands more just like it after we are dead and gone!

  18. K Brown says:

    Sorry but this dude is way off base…. Stoops is the problem…Jerry Claiborne made sure everyone of us knew we were privileged to be where we were and we owed it to the fans to give 100% because most of them had lives way rougher than we did…

  19. KyGirl says:

    For me, the problem is not the losing record – although that is frustrating – It’s that we are constantly promised bigger, better, fancier, etc., and ticket prices and k-fund ‘donations’ are constantly increasing, but the team’s performance doesn’t keep up. This is not the players fault, but rather the failure of the leadership. Specifically Mitch B.
    We have been season ticket holders literally since CWS was built, and we sat in the same seats every year until they ‘reorganzied’. What thanks did we get for faithfully supporting that 2-10 season, and all the losing seasons before that? Another price increase AND we lost our seats. Yes, we are still season ticket holders, and our name is somewhere on that tunnel wall, but is some return-on-investment an unrealistic request?
    Again, I don’t fault the players, they are college students. Yes, improvements need to be made and skills need to be practiced,, but pricing out the truly loyal fans has done as much to empty the stadium as consistently losing seasons.

  20. Derek says:

    Whatever. This is ridiculous. I bet a majority of uk fans are up at 5am going to work to pay for the tickets they receive and education that the students benefit from. There have been fans that have set through 30 years of mediocrity after waking up at 5am every single day. After the last two games where we have been out scored 58-0 in the second half fans can say whatever they want just like you can in an open letter. I’m sure the same fans will be in the seats and watching and supporting this week and years down the road after waking up at 5am all week. They came back after your Vanderbilt experience and they will be there long after as they always have been.

  21. The players are given free education to make the university proud. They, so far, haven’t held up their end of the bargain for most years. Admit it, they choked, usually a coaching problem.

  22. Dave says:

    Same excuses and ratiolizations for 4 decades.

  23. Mike Taylor says:

    I’ve spent over 30 years following UK football. Lots of time and $$$$$ invested during those years. Yes I was in the stands and stayed the whole game that year against Vandy. I’m dine with UK!

  24. Pedro MAc says:

    We need better halftime speeches. Not sure what is going on at half, but I would probably recommend doing the opposite.

  25. JOSH says:

    Screw you. I’ve invested just as much time in earning the money I’ve spent buying tickets all these years as the players have playing football. In fact, I’ve been spending hard earned money on UK football for 20+ years. That’s 4x the investment of a 5th year senior. You were on some trash teams, Godby. I guess we can thank you all for setting an example for the current gutless upperclassmen

  26. Rich says:

    Get rid of Barnhardt. He is the dumbass who “negotiated” A 12 MILLION DOLLAR BUYOUT of Stoops.

  27. I will support UK regardless of fan opinions. My wife and I both attended UK and the least we can do is support the athletics teams.

  28. TMac says:

    Sometime back in the 70’s I attended my last U.K. game. Bernie Scruggs called a QB sneak from his own 2 yd line, in hopes of just moving the ball away fro the endzone. He broke the play and was all alone with a couple of teammates running free to to the other goalline. He tripped over his own feet at the 3. Next play, fumble, ball lost. End of story. If you believe in curses, this team was cursed then and nothing has changed over the past 40 years, as the last second kickoff return by LSU would confirm. I can’t root for a program that has a curse on it and finds new ways to lose every year. Bring on basketball season.

  29. April says:

    I know people will NOT like this, but Ky. needs to fold up the football program and spend the money on kids who want o go to college but can’t afford too!!! You could have the best coach in the world and UK would still loose.

  30. Cliff Roberts says:

    Thanks for the well written letter. Win or Lose I still cheer for the Blue..

  31. Scott Parker says:

    Extremely well written and heartfelt. I just wish Max had addressed the incredibly overpaid coaching staff relative to what they deliver. The coaches have once again let the players down. So, I have a challenge for Coach Stoops: work for free (or for a lot less) until you take this team to a bowl. When you do, you will be retroactively paid in full. If you don’t, then so be it. Basically, Coach, put at least some of your bazillion dollars a year on the line to back up what you say. Until then I will support the players but NOT (what appears to be) the inept coaching staff.

  32. Jeff Johnson says:

    Nice writing but let’s look at the honest truth. When the “goal” each and every year is to be 3-5 in the conference and 3-1 outside the conference there is something wrong. We stack the non-con with what should be 3 sure wins. We then hope that somehow…someway, we can win 3 inside the conference to get that bowl game with a 6-6 record. It is honestly pathetic….

  33. […] of my football crazy, check out this post from last weekend and my dear friend Max Godby’s letter from two weeks […]

  34. Harvey Lorenzo says:

    I think the best thing to do is to fire BOTH Mark Stoops and Mitch Barnhart…

    Stoops is in his 4th season and hasn’t delivered for us in a huge way yet!!!

    As for Barnhart he ‘negotiated’ a $12mil – $18mil buyout of Stoops (and his assistants) – the buyout is a reward for failure, in real life you don’t get rewarded for failure. You only need
    the buyout if he’s doing well…but since he doesn’t, I hope someone will step up to the plate soon and fire Stoops and Barnhart w/o giving them their $12mil – $18mil

  35. Harvey Lorenzo says:

    ^With that being said then let’s fire Mark Stoops and hire Les Miles as our next coach. Also, fire Mitch Barnhart and we need to find a new AD fast!!!!!

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