If you've been following my travels to listen in on the great former coaches of the game, I'm sure you've realized I took a break from my journeys. The Wildcats are truly struggling and I have been as well. I still love the team, from the bottom of my aching heart, and sometimes even the truest die-hard fan has those little moments when they feel hopeless. I thought I would make the journey today to see if they could help me find the little extra leg-up I needed to find my joy that was suffering with each injury that has plagued us like a severe storm this season. As much as I love blue, it's hard for me to come to terms when the players that I adore are suffering injuries that seem to be unending.
I set out early, hoping to get another good seat in my favorite hiding place that also allowed me to watch the large monitor. I had learned it helped out a lot to see exactly which part of the game they were watching during conversations. As I had hoped, no one was there today because I had thought ahead as I was able to take my place in the corner.
Bear Bryant entered the room soon after I arrived, still struggling with key and his lock. I was not surprised at all. Little unimportant things tend to get left for last. After all, it was football season now.
As I waited for the others to drop by today, I couldn't help but notice again the way that Bear's big chair seemed like it was a tailored fit for him. Today, I also noticed that his familiar hounds-tooth Fedora sat perched on the side table adjacent to his chair. I didn't remember noticing it before and wondered how I could have missed the hat, of all things. His hat was a huge part of him. Instantly my mind tried to remember if I had ever seen a photo of him and his Fedora dated back to pre-Bama, during his Kentucky days. I realized I had not a single image in my head. The thought from that realization ... He left Kentucky 6 years before I was even born. It wasn't very likely I could remember if he had worn one as the Kentucky coach or not.
As I made it back to the present, I realized not another single football great had wandered in today. I was getting worried that even the great football minds were giving up on discussing my Wildcats. I was feeling just a bit lower than I had already been for over a week now. My trip was looking very dismal and not what I was hoping it would be. I thought it would help to pass my waiting time to watch what Bear was watching today but I still remembered the rain-out mess from Saturday and asked myself if I really wanted to watch it again.
I gazed at the screen and didn't recognize the game he was watching. It was in black and white. The uniforms were old school and I couldn't even tell what colors the players were wearing without the full color version. As my mind raced to tune in to what I was seeing, I soon realized it was the Sugar Bowl, from New Year's Day 1951. THE game I have wanted to watch, but have never found the opportunity, for decades.
My thoughts were suddenly interrupted when I heard Bear speak in the silence. "Longtime Wildcat fan, I know you're here." My mouth dropped wide open and fear appeared on my face as I realized my hidden self no longer existed. I wasn't supposed to be here and now I was no longer invisible.
I wasn't sure how to react to his comment, but I found myself replying, "Yyyyes ... ?"
"Lou mentioned to me that he had noticed you a few times. I sensed someone was here but I didn't sense any ill feelings. I actually felt someone was listening to our conversations, only because they loved their Wildcats, like a small child loves Christmas morning. I saw no reason to disrupt that sort of adoration." With these words, Bear had eased the fear that had fallen on my face.
"I do love my Wildcats, Bear. I always will," I replied. "Football fans in Lexington are not very happy right now and you know better than anyone else about how hard it is to get them to be all in. I wanted to find some way to help them to stay on board because our players need our support regardless of how they feel about our coach. I thought you guys could enlighten me with a course of action."
Bear's face produced a smile as he said, "You are right about that, Dear. I lived it. As a coach, sometimes the fans are the hardest to deal with, especially you Wildcat fans that have been called crazy fans."
I laughed out loud and said "You've been watching our basketball coach, Bear."
He said with a smile, "Yes, I have seen him a time or two."
"What would you suggest I do, Bear?" I asked. "How do I convince the fans that we cannot let the players think we have given up on them?"
"Just keep the faith, little one. Kentucky football is not in new territory. Even when they win more than they lose, the fans tend to find little things that are unsatisfactory in their eyes. You can trust me on that. I'll bet Calipari would even agree with that statement. Just remember that Blue will always live in your soul."
"Thank you, Bear. I believe I can do that. I will always believe in Blue."
"Now hurry on, Little Blue Fan. Fans like you are needed in Lexington. The team needs you and the others like you right now. Never forget that. Believe!"