In one night Kentucky football went from something you want to lock in a closet to something you want to talk about. Have I gone off the deep end thinking UK has turned the corner and is going bowling? No, and I don't even want to think about how this season will finish out.
With a surprising performance (26 for 33, 174 yards) Max Smith has now given us football's most noteworthy debating argument - the quarterback controversy. And this one has a couple of interest twists. First Morgan Newton got injured and second, there is a weird win-lose(?) outcome to Joker's legacy.
Joker says Newton's injury (high ankle sprain, shoulder) will be looked at tomorrow and that contributes a bit to the drama. A good quarterback controversy needs at least two quarterbacks so even that adds a bit of uncertainty to the argument. At some point Newton will be healthy and it could be this week since Joker already said "we'll have a decision to make." Ya think?! Joker, I hope you make the right decision - and we're back to the controversy. Oh, boy!
What is more bizarre is how this whole quarterback "controversy" opens up Joker's version of Pandora's Box. There's not much debating that Joker is under a sizable groundswell of negativity from the fan. They want to see progress immediately or a different name on the Head Coach door.
Thought it might be interesting to look at how the whole quarterback event shapes the perception of Joker -
Case #1 - Max Smith has seen the light, his fire and leadership lifts whole team and gets Kentucky's embarrassing stats a boost toward respectability. Fans' mood improves season ends on a high note, all attention immediately turns to basketball. Joker easily keeps job into next season.
Case #2 - Max Smith's performance against MSU was an aberration, Newton can't return, but Smith leads us on to a bumbling finish with stats about on par with what Newton has done. Fan's abandon Joker, fan base is lost. Joker begins next year with heat on medium.
Case #3 - In the upcoming Ole Miss game, Smith repeats his South Carolina performance and is replaced by Newton for the rest of the year, Kentucky finishes year playing the same as they have to date finish abysmally. Fan's abandon Joker, fan base is lost. Joker begins next year with heat on medium.
Case #4 - Newton replaces Smith for rest of the year....yada...yada....yada... Fan's abandon Joker, fan base is lost. Joker begins next year with heat on medium.
This seems somewhat bizarre that Joker could be thought of more favorably by the fan base if he was mistaken about his choice of Newton as the starter.
If Joker suddenly improves this season with Smith I'll be raising more than eyebrows. Strange that what's best for the program - success - is something that will a mixed bag for Joker.