WE'RE GOING BOWLING

By Ryan Lemond

 

It’s time to go bowling!  Hallelujah! 

Doesn’t it seem like it’s been 20 years since the UK football team got to play in a college football bowl game? Granted, it’s only been 6 years, but it does seem like it’s been a lot longer than that to all of us “postseason hungry” UK football fans.

Maybe we got spoiled going to 5 straight bowl games from 2006-2010 and didn’t appreciate what our team was accomplishing until we stopped becoming bowl eligible every year.

Maybe it was the downward slide we felt after going to those 5 straight bowl games to only see our Cats struggle through back-to-back 2-win seasons.

Maybe it was the disappointment of not making a bowl game the past two seasons, finishing with only 5 wins, and losing the last game of each season to Louisville.

Whatever it was, it doesn’t matter now, because the Cats are finally going bowling again, and I can’t wait!

In the “modern era”, Tim Couch and the 1998 Cats set the bar pretty high by playing in the Outback Bowl in Tampa on New Year’s Day.  It was a big splash on the national bowl scene for the Cats, who had really struggled to become bowl eligible since the 1993 Peach Bowl under Bill Curry. UK lost that Outback Bowl game against Penn State 26-14, but it didn’t matter to most of us because we felt like we had arrived, and that we belonged in a major bowl game against a storied program like Penn State.

The next season, the Cats made it back-to-back bowl games with a trip to Nashville to play Syracuse in the Music City Bowl. UK football players were again honored and thrilled to be playing in the postseason. Dusty Bonner and the Cats lost to the Orangemen 20-13, but again, I felt like our fan base was still happy because the program had improved enough to playing in the postseason 2 years in a row, and it didn’t seem that (at the time) UK was going to be slowing down any time soon.

Obviously things did slow down with NCAA probation and two coaching changes. Enter Rich Brooks.

The 5-year run where coach Brooks led UK to a bowl game every year was awesome. Kentucky was not just earning the right to play in a bowl game, but they were also winning bowl games:

2006 - UK beat Clemson 28-20 in the Music City Bowl

2007 - UK beat Florida State 35-28 in the Music City Bowl

2008 - UK beat East Carolina 25-19 in the Liberty Bowl

Let that sink in for a moment. Not only was UK football going to bowl games every year, they beat CLEMSON and FLORIDA STATE.

Good times. Good times, indeed.

The Cats backed up that run with bowl trips in 2009 to the Music City Bowl and 2010 to the BBVA Compass Bowl. UK lost both games, but little did we know it would be six long seasons before the Cats would be bowl eligible again. During that time, we remember lots of Cats fans complaining that, “We gotta go back to the Music City Bowl!” The next year, we also heard, “We should decline the Compass Bowl bid.”

How silly do those comments sound now?  There is no way UK football fans should get “spoiled” over going to bowl games. Never!

So enjoy this moment! Go to the game!  History has shown that it doesn’t happen all the time. We should embrace this opportunity and this chance to be a UK football fan.  

I know I will!   

 

 

 



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