Monday, January 05, 2009

Rich Brooks Proves I Know Nothing

In the fellowship of the miserable of Kentucky football, it is common place to believe that Big Blue will find a way to lose. Even amidst the resurgence of this football team over the last three years, there was always the nagging reality that while improvements were made, this was a team that was beatable. In fact, this was a team that was hard pressed to overcome adversity at all, given that their roster is significantly less talented than the Georgias, the Floridas, and the Tennessees on their schedule. It isn't a knock on the Wildcats, Rich Brooks, or any of their current roster inhabitants, it is simply a long cold drink of reality in the brutal SEC.

So my pessimism about the Liberty Bowl this week was not entirely out of left field. This edition of the Football Cats were without a reliable quarterback, had injuries rivaling the bravo company of the Iraqi Republican Guard, and still were without receivers who seemed to want to catch the ball. The momentum of the season was clearly headed in the wrong direction, as the Cats closed 08 with 6 losses in 8 games, with their 2 wins coming by a combined 2 points. It wasn't pretty, but it was 6-6, and with it came the Liberty Bowl and East Carolina.

First and foremost, Rich Brooks is one hell of a football coach for anyone who thought otherwise. After watching his Cats surrender momentum and a 16-3 halftime lead to the Pirates, Brooks made adjustments, lit a fire under their collective asses, and watched his Cats hold the Pirates to 3 second half points while winning 25-19, winning their third consecutive Bowl for the first time in school history, and proving that I clearly don't know much about football. I'll have my order of crow with a light cream sauce and some garlic mashed potatoes.

Overall, I thought the game was exciting, enjoyable, and truly uncharacteristic of Kentucky in that they didn't wilt under pressure or let one get away. It was an unexpected win, but a win that I will celebrate and claim as my own despite thinking it would go the other way. Some other random thoughts about this little Bowl-O-Liberty:
  • The replay official needs an explanation of what "convincing indisputable evidence" means. The Micah Johnson fumble return should have stood, not because it was convincingly evident that it was a fumble, but because there is no possible way it was indisputable that it wasn't. Thankfully, Ventrell Jenkins and his stiff arm from hell saved the day and potentially an official's life. Nice work, big fella.
  • Hartline was surprisingly not shitty. I can only think of one piss poor decision (the flea flicker into double coverage) that was a head scratcher. Overall, Hartline did well enough not to lose, and that's really all I ever wanted from him.
  • All in all, this was one of the more exciting bowl games. Congrats to the players, and most importantly, to Coach Brooks.
So here we are, three straight years of bowling, three straight wins. Hard to believe really, considering the depths of suckery this program has seen in recent memory. Congrats Cats... on to signing day.

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