Admit it. You believed me. You believed us naysayers and negative nitwits. If you tell me you knew it all along, I won't believe you. Not because you don't believe, but ... yeah, it's cause it's almost impossible to believe, after what the Kentucky defense had shown in recent weeks -- to recap, 34 points surrendered to Mississippi State, 49 to LSU, 36 to Central Michigan -- that the same unit could provide not just a bare minimum, but the winning efforts in an improbable and important 24-20 Kentucky win over Georgia.
Forget about the Bulldogs' struggles this season. Forget that, at 6-4 overall, they are not the same team that has dominated the SEC the past few seasons. Because in the SEC, you are either a Kentucky or a Georgia, an Ole Miss or a Florida. Excluding the occasional surprise year, swapping spots is the rarest of rare. To wit, when was the last time UK beat Georgia at home or anywhere else in football? Seem like a decade? There's a reason. Ithas been a decade. In 1996, the Hal Mumme Hurricane won, 24-17, at Commonwealth Stadium.
Yeah, honey, we feel similarly about the Cats' big win over Georgia!
But now we know that Mumme's success was smoke and mirrors, the product of shady recruiting and a system that maximized offense and minimized institutional long-term succcess. Critics of the current regime, like myself, may have been snookered into thinking that SEC college football success is easy. It's clearly not.
I don't want fans to think that I am suddenly dropping from a "cut 'n run" policy to a "stay the course" policy because of one win (though, even this pessimist is beginning to see that it's not "one win" at all, but a series of momentum builders). I still maintain that head coach Rich Brooks is not your quintessential winner.
However, results are results. And with a young team -- fill-ins Trevor Lindley (Fr., INT), Braxton Kelley (So., 10 tackles), Johnny Williams (So., INT) and offensive stars Tony Dixon (So., TD), Alfonso Smith (RFr., 76 yards) and Keenan Burton (Jr., 2 TDs), for example -- still learning to win, each taste of victory begets the desire for more. Even us doom and gloomers have to admit that Brooks has laid a groundwork for winning in difficult circumstances.
Should he be given a 12-year deal? No way. But he has certainly proved me wrong already this year, and with a bowl game within reach -- and possibly, if the Cats can overcome an improved Vandy, at least two more wins and a 7-win season this season -- the future of UK football is much brighter than the pessimists would have you believe.
Congrats to the gridiron Cats on a homecoming to remember. Keeping it up is the next goal, and after Saturday, even the negative among us are starting to believe that such goals are increasingly obtainable.