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Giving thanks for the Cats

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I admit, I have plenty to be thankful for on this holiday. The Kentucky Wildcats just happen to be one of them, and I’m thankful for the men that lead the programs.

NCAA Football: Auburn at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

In several hours, I will be sitting down with my family for Thanksgiving dinner and it is a time to reflect upon the last year and to give thanks and gratitude to the things and the people that helped us survive the past year. Hopefully, all of or most of you have that same opportunity to do so as well.

In several ways, 2016 has not been a good year for me. My job has been much more unsettled that I would have liked. This country still has plenty of healing to do after an especially ugly and brutal Presidential election that went on way too long. And on June 12, everything I knew got turned upside down with the brutal and senseless slaughter of innocent 49 souls in Orlando.

It's also been a brutal year for the arts as several icons such as David Bowie, Prince, Phife Dawg, Gene Wilder, Leonard Cohen, and Garry Shandling among others have passed away. It's been brutal in the sports world as well as Muhammad Ali, John Saunders and Jose Fernandez were all called home.

Besides my friend and family, I've had one constant that has helped me to see my way through the dark and be my constant beacon and that has been my love affair with the Kentucky Wildcats.

I really can't count the number of times that Kentucky football and basketball has gotten me through a rough time in my life and what it has meant to me and my family. Even though I was on the different political spectrum from a lot of my family members, the talk at the table today will be about the Wildcat's bowl bid and whether Calipari can get us to the ninth title and if he will stay at Kentucky long enough to catch John Wooden.

And I can't say how thankful and proud I am to have Mark Stoops and John Calipari as the guys leading our programs.

Even though there have been bumps in the road, I am very thankful to have Mark Stoops as our coach. Although the process to get to a bowl has been painful at times and took longer than what some thought it would take, Stoops has indeed built a foundation and a blueprint for Kentucky football.

It goes beyond wins and losses and extends to the work has done to get the right facilities built at Kentucky. In just four years, the Kentucky recruiting and training facilities have gone from an embarrassment to a virtual embarrassment of riches. Stoops has built something that we can all be proud and thankful of.

There have been times at Kentucky when Mark Stoops has been much classier than the comments and the rumors that have unfairly been thrown at him. I'm thankful for the way he has represented himself and our school.

I can't really state in an essay what having John Calipari as a coach has meant to me. He has been a tremendous ambassador for the school and the alumni and has taken the brand of Kentucky basketball to an unreached level. Along the way, he has touched many mores lives that I think he even knows is possible.

Aside from being that ambassador for all of us, he has taken his charity around the world and impacted lives. From raising money for the Haitian earthquake victims to a softball game for the victims of the Louisiana flooding, Calipari has been the gold standard of charitable giving among college coaches. There is not a cause around the world that Calipari will not donate his time for and in the process, teach his players the meaning of humility and how to give of themselves. He has made family the theme for his basketball process and invited all of the Big Blue Nation along for the ride.

At the end of the day, it's more about the wins and the losses for me. I want to be able to look at our programs and be proud and I'm glad to say that we are well represented by the leaders of men that our programs have.