Mark Story has an interesting piece in today's Lexington Herald-Leader that observes Kentucky's propensity to have two back-to-back good teams before returning to live among the cellar-dwellers of the SEC. Story labels this the "Noah's Ark Effect".
It's kind of funny how these weird sports phenomena occur. It's similar to the UL/UK basketball/football game -- every time one team wins in football, the opposite team wins in basketball. I think that pattern is yet to be broken, although these things almost always eventually come to an end.
Still, it's interesting that Kentucky seems to manage it's success in twos. But if we are ever to return our football team to relevance, we must find a way to develop consistency. Consistency is what makes Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee the national powers they have become in football, and if we are ever to become anything other than a homecoming game on any of their schedules, we must find a way to develop consistency.
Unfortunately, history looks poised to repeat itself again. Kentucky has so far failed to locate a quarterback that looks like he could step in and develop into the next Andre Woodson, so when Woodson earns his rightful place among the Sunday millionaires, where will Kentucky's offense be? We are a little better off at wide receiver and in the offensive backfield, but even if Curtis Pulley comes back to school, our offense will be forced to undergo a radical change.
Our best chance to develop into a consistent football team lies in the development of our line positions on offense, and our entire defensive unit. Assuming that we enjoy success comparable to last year this year, we will have most likely earned that success on the backs of our skill players with little help from anywhere else. If we are to continue our success next year and avoid the "Noah's Ark Effect" suffered by Fran Curci, Jerry Claiborne, and Hal Mumme, the rest of the team is going to need to share the load.
One thing that has been upgraded lately is recruiting, and that bodes well for the future if it continues. Instead of one and two star players, we are consistently getting more three stars now. If we can start getting a few highly touted players and develop the others, we have possibly our best chance in recent history to develop the kind of consistency it takes to be relevant in the SEC.
If I were to predict the future today, I would say that Kentucky will have a successful season by UK standards this year. Next year, we will likely revert to form -- when you are trying to become relevant, "rebuilding" years come frequently. The year after next will tell us a lot more about where the program is going -- either foundering in the doldrums again, or actually on the rise. Two great years in a row is not a return to relevance, it is a return to form, especially given UK's history over the past 20 years or so. To break the mold, we must do more.