UK – Live Breathe Blue

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Kentucky Football — Starkville

Starkville—by John Huang

Starkville, Mississippi appears exactly as its name implies. The home to the Mississippi State University Bulldogs is rather stark, much more so than any of the other traditional small-town SEC hamlets you might encounter. There’s a Matty’s Starkvegas Café here and The Little Dooey Barbecue joint, but not much else. Supposedly Tee Ball was invented in Starkville, All-Pro wide receiver Jerry Rice calls Starkville home, and country music legend Johnny Cash was once arrested for public drunkenness and spent a night in the Starkville city jail.


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Kentucky Basketball — Mere Madness

Mere Madness—By John Huang

Every October, University of Kentucky basketball fans yearn expectantly for the spectacle known as Big Blue Madness. This past Friday night was no different. Over 20,000 screaming fans–ages eight to eighty–crammed themselves into Rupp Arena for the annual dog and pony show signaling the start of another exciting roundball season. Women’s Basketball coach Matthew Mitchell led off the night’s festivities with his customary dance moves that set the frenzied tone for the remainder of the evening. John Calipari’s annual state-of-the-union manifesto then further stoked the flames of Big Blue passion. Finally, an appearance by Drake sent the Wildcat faithful over the proverbial edge of sanity—giving the prized recruits in the audience a taste of what it’s like to be rock stars on stage in front of a fanatical basketball family.


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Kentucky Football — Positively Presidential

Positively Presidential—By John Huang

Kentucky’s 40-34 victory over Missouri was resoundingly memorable—but probably not in the way you’re thinking. Sure, Stephen Johnson was solid as usual, passing for 298 yards and 2 touchdowns. Benny Snell Jr. was also decent, rushing for 117 yards and two scores, including a career-long 71-yard jaunt in the second quarter. Unfortunately, the Wildcat secondary went MIA all evening, allowing the Tigers a whopping 568 total yards on several humongous passing plays. Despite all the drama, the Cats go to 5-1 on the year heading into their bye week, with a colossal matchup against Mississippi State in Starkville looming on the imminent horizon.


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Kentucky Football — Why I Like Mark Stoops

Why I Like Mark Stoops—By John Huang

Football is a rigorous and carnal sport, so I like my head football coaches fiery and passionate. When the chips are down, I want a leader who’s pacing the sideline, red-faced and emotional, motivating players, yelling at assistants, and arguing with refs. Show me someone calm and collected, reticent and reserved, tight lipped and poker faced, and I’ll show you a coach who looks as if he doesn’t give a damn. Give me Woody Hayes over Jim Tressel any day of the week. I’ll take an animated Pete Carroll over a stoic Bill Belichick just for the difference in energy level alone. Marvin Lewis in this day and age? No thanks! Enthusiasm, spirit, and zeal are what counts in my book.


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Kentucky Football — Thirty-One and Counting

Thirty-One and Counting—by John Huang

During his weekly press conference with media a couple of weeks ago, I lightheartedly referred to UK head football coach Mark Stoops as “jolly.” “I’ve never heard that word with me,” he responded. “Let’s see if you say that next month.” Stoops was anything but jolly after Kentucky’s heartbreaking 28-27 loss to the Florida Gators. Who can blame him? Crushing defeats year after year will quickly suck the joy out of even the most hardened of football souls.


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Kentucky Football — Carolina Cold-Cocked

Carolina Cold Cocked—By John Huang

Road trips are tough. I’m not talking necessarily about the UK Football team traveling to away games with their cushy charter flights and first-class hotels. I’m referencing the trips made by the lowly sports journalist covering the team—travels punctuated by endless drives, budget accommodations, and greasy fast food.


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Kentucky Football — EK Who?

EK Who? —By John Huang

Saturdays in September have a uniquely distinct odor. Gone are the halcyon scents of summer, replaced by the pungent smell of football in the air. Whether it’s the aroma of the best pre-game breakfast burrito I’ve ever had, or the smoke from a tailgate barbecue, or the sweat from post-game interviews, I love everything about this special time of the year. You simply can’t beat the home opener for Wildcat Football and the excitement it brings to everyone in the commonwealth. Thankfully, Kentucky was playing EKU—a significantly lesser opponent incapable of pulling off the gargantuan upset and crashing the party.


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Kentucky Football — Mississippi Learning

Mississippi Learning—By John Huang

One game doesn’t make for a successful season, but a 24-17 victory over Southern Miss certainly steers the 2017-18 Wildcat football campaign in a favorable direction. Suffice it to say that a second straight season opening loss to the Shannon Dawson coached Golden Eagles could have sent the Mark Stoops bandwagon careening off the side of a big blue cliff. Deep into the fourth quarter, potential disaster was still looming. Long-suffering UK football fans have seen it all before—months of preseason hope and hype negated by a few minutes of inexplicable on-the-field football futility. Fortunately, that was NOT the case in Hattiesburg, as the Cats played well enough to notch victory #1 on their way to a possible breakout season.


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Kentucky Football — Beach Bowl Prediction

Beach Bowl Prediction—By John Huang

Hattiesburg, Mississippi, lies a scant 77 miles from the serene blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Prior to covering Kentucky’s road opener, my plans were to spend a few sun-splashed days on the Biloxi beaches preparing my perilous prognostication for the upcoming Wildcat season. Perhaps some glorious sunrises, an abundance of succulent seafood, and a few well-timed luscious libations could conjure up an idyllic vision of how this UK football season will eventually materialize.


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Kentucky Football — Kroger University

Kroger University—By John Huang

Those of you old enough to remember the “Let’s Go Krogering” jingle know that the Cincinnati based grocery chain giant has never shied away from hokey marketing promotions. None of us should have been surprised, then, when we heard of Kroger’s latest takeover of the hallowed grounds of our beloved football venue. Out with Commonwealth Stadium and in with Kroger Field. For a mere $1.85 million per year, Kroger bought not only the naming rights, but a direct path to the mind, hearts, and wallets of the Big Blue Wildcat faithful.


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