UK – Live Breathe Blue

Kentucky Football — Fans Far from Fickle

Kentucky Football Fans Far from Fickle—By John Huang

At the recent reunion for his 2006-2008 bowl-winning teams, former Kentucky football coach Rich Brooks took a direct shot at the UK fan base. “Kentucky fans are a little fickle,” he said. “They’re great, but they’re fickle. For them at 5-1 to not be happy with this team and couldn’t believe that we hadn’t blown some of these people out, it’s crazy. You’re 5-1 for god’s sakes. How many times has Kentucky been 5-1? Not very many.”


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Kentucky Football — Big Orange Shakedown

Photo by Donna Gray

Big Orange Shakedown—By John Huang

I recently reminded former UK All-SEC tight end Jacob Tamme that in his lifetime, Kentucky had only defeated Tennessee one single time in football. Think about it—for 31 out of the last 32 years, BBN has had to endure the ignominy of losing to our hated Big Orange rivals. That’s over three decades of unsurpassed pain, 31 years of bragging rights surrendered, and countless stanzas of Rocky Top shoved down our collective throats.


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Kentucky Basketball — Don’t Sweat The Alamo (just yet)!

Photo by Donna Gray

Don’t Sweat the Alamo (just yet)—By John Huang

At the beginning of this season, Kentucky Men’s Basketball coach John Calipari didn’t pull any punches. “We stink,” he said when asked to evaluate his team’s progress to date. After UK’s 103-61 exhibition victory over the Thomas More Saints, no one should really be surprised by his abject bluntness. With essentially a brand-new roster on the Rupp Arena floor, anyone expecting swagger at this point in the year just doesn’t know Coach Cal. Regardless of the lofty pundit predictions, Cal’s going to limit expectations for his fourth-ranked Wildcats. He’ll emphasize the process, talk endlessly about patience, and make quips about being the youngest team in America until he’s blue in the face. It’s up to you whether you believe he’s sandbagging or not.


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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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