"Just wait until basketball season."
-Every UK football fan, nearly every year...ever.
And so goes the life of a University of Kentucky football fan, right? Last year, the Cats were on an early roll. They won four of their first five headed into a bye week. A bye week complete with hope and excitement for the season. Then...well...the second half of the season happened. After a close loss at home to Auburn and getting their doors blown off against Mississippi State in Starkville (I was there, it got ugly), UK fans were turning their eyes to basketball season and what this new, sharp-shooting Canadian kid could bring to UK basketball. This brings me to my main question, when is it okay to jump ship on football season and be all in on basketball season?
If you ask the hundreds of people who camped out in front of Memorial Coliseum, it was two week ago. And let's be honest, who all tuned into the live broadcast of UK's basketball practice last weekend? Yea...you did. Hard to resist, right? Big Blue Madness is this week, which means nearly all eyes will be on Rupp and what head coach John Calipari has in store for this season. I'd imagine between Madness and the practice on Sunday, thousands tuned in. We're not talking about a game, we're talking about practice (in my Iverson voice). Let's not kid anyone, basketball rules all in Lexington, but there's still some guys working their tails off on the football field. At the same time thousands head to check out Madness, there will be a team of young men resting before they host Mississippi State the following week.
"That’s great about a bye week and what we’re doing," Offensive Coordinator Eddie Gran said. "You can work on fundamentals. You can work on technique. Stephen (Johnson), our passing game, with our receivers, our protection and everybody that’s involved in that working on concepts, working on our reads."
It's hard, I get it. UK football has been anything but exciting to watch the majority of the season or for the past few years for that matter. I think it's safe to say, many UK fans were already jumping ship after the debacle that was the Southern Miss game. If that didn't do it, getting absolutely dog-walked the following weekend in Gainesville against the Gators had you looking up the mixtape for Bam Adebayo to see if he REALLY is the next Dwight Howard (FYI, he hates the comparison). When this Friday comes along, Cal and the rest of the crew are bound to get everyone on board because this squad could compete for #9.
"I would say we're going to be a mauling, helping, rotating, shot-blocking team. Probably picks the ball up the court because we can," said Calipari during his team's media day on Thursday. "On offense, a team that tries to score within three seconds, and if not, is doing something to attack the rim or throw it to the post."
Hopes are high for the basketball team, but at the same time, the football squad is working hard during their off week.
"During this week, once again I think it's a big emphasis on us," said UK head coach Mark Stoops." Getting a lot of areas, taking the time to look and see what we did good and what we will recharge is a little bit."
Recharge...great word to use there Coach Stoops. Maybe that's advice fans can take as well. With a couple of conference wins under their belt, there's newfound hope for the football team. The question is, can that hope bleed over to the fan base?
My advice, use this Friday's Big Blue Madness as a way to enjoy both new UK hoops teams, but also "recharge" your outlook on the football season. Wash your hands of what's happened the first several weeks of the season. Look toward the football squad taking on the Bulldogs at home next Saturday. To help with that recharge, the Cats only need three more wins to go bowling. Realistically, those wins could most likely come against MSU, Mizzou and Austin Peay. So, plug into the basketball team this weekend then immediately plug back into UK football. Fans COULD be in a for fun ride ending with a trip bowling.