Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies.
Every year, or at least every couple of years, the debate arises as to Kentucky football’s non-conference scheduling. Gentry Estes, a sportswriter for the Louisville Courier-Journal, argues thus:
According to a website designed to track such things, FBschedules.com, UK is set to face Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Eastern Illinois, Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State, Miami of Ohio, Northern Illinois, Youngstown State, Ball State, Eastern Kentucky, Akron, Ohio University, Murray State and South Alabama in the coming years.
UK football can do better.
No doubt this is true. But should Kentucky schedule tougher in the non-conference? We have had this debate many times on A Sea of Blue over lo, these 12 years since I have been around, and my position is relatively unchanged.
The biggest argument for upgrading the schedule is to improve Kentucky’s standing for the CFB Playoff race. Strength of schedule appears to me to be only a minor consideration for bowls below that level.
So should this actually be Kentucky’s goal? Has anyone seen in Kentucky the potential makings of a CFB Playoff program? If so, we should upgrade by all means.
But I honestly don’t see it, and never have. Here is an example article on the subject from way back in the early years of A Sea of Blue in 2007 when I was ruminating about the idea of changing conferences to help the football team’s fortunes:
So why am I pouring cold water all over our suddenly trendy team? Sometimes we have to face the facts, and look at reality. Rich Brooks is proving to be a fine coach, but he is no Steve Spurrier, or Nick Saban, or Mark Richt. Kentucky has a fine team, but in a conference like the SEC, we still, with all our great players, have the potential to be a conference doormat -- and the odds are way better for our season to suck than for us to win even a division title. It isn’t rah-rah, and it isn’t happy, but it is reality. The players at virtually every top SEC school are better, top to bottom, than ours are. And when you say “top school” in the SEC, you mean at least five programs.
Does that mean we won’t someday win a division, or even a league crown? No, of course not. We have done it before. I think we will go to our second bowl in a row this year, and we may upset one or two of the Great Powers getting there. But inevitably after a hot year or two, we sink back to a lower middle team, where we wander for years in the wilderness of mediocrity. Suppose we upgrade to where South Carolina is now -- mid-mediocrity. It is still mediocrity.
Last year, Kentucky managed to have a great season by the standards of any team, yet it didn’t even manage to win their division, let alone the SEC Conference Championship. Needless to say, the CFB Playoff was not even a legitimate consideration.
Looking at the recruiting, there is simply no way to get there from where we are today. Mark Stoops is doing a superb job, no doubt about it, but we are almost as far from being a CFB Playoff contender as we have ever been.
Based on this, I just don’t see how upgrading the schedule helps, and from Stoops’ standpoint, it can only hurt -- an upgraded schedule increases the chance of missing the post season, and it won’t take many of those to send him packing now that UK fans have the taste of success in their mouth, however modest.
If Kentucky’s recruiting ever manages to get to the level of, say, Tennessee or even South Carolina’s current level of success and stay there, then I would most likely reconsider this position. As it is today, it’s all downside as far as I am concerned, except to give Kentucky’s critics less fodder for tut-tutting Kentucky’s non-conference schedule.
I say that’s not a price worth paying.
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- Where are Mark Stoops’ former assistants now? John Clay has the answer.
- Ranking the 50 best Kentucky football wins of all time: #40-31.
- Three takeaways from Kentucky football’s first weekend.
- Kentucky football is looking for new stars after replacing 16 starters for 2019.
- WKYT looks at UK defensive tackle TJ Carter.
- Former UK linebacker Courtney Love named UK football’s new director of player development. Congratulations!
- John Hale writes about where UK stands with pre-season position battles. There are a lot of them.
- Jojo Kemp and his “yes” face is Keith Peel’s 3rd all-time favorite UK player.
- UK recruiting target Scott Barnes will transfer to Montverde Academy in Florida for his senior season.
- Recruiting analyst Eric Bossi talks about Cam’Ron Fletcher.
Other Kentucky sports
- Rachel Garrison, long-time UK gymnastics assistant, has been named associate head coach. Congratulations!
- Kentucky volleyballers Madison Lilley and Gabby Curry will be playing for Team USA in the Pan Am Games.
- Kentucky, Auburn, and South Carolina the three toughest teams to predict for 2019 football in the SEC.
- Former 5-star linebacker Brenton Cox is no longer with Georgia’s team.
- Top 2020 recruit Evan Mobley picks ... USC? Family connections, apparently. Well, Andy Enfield better get something done this year or he may not be around for 2020. Of course, with the upcoming changes in NBA Draft rules, neither may Mobley...
- Georgia gets some good news:
Mike Peake is reclassifying to the 2019 class and has committed to Georgia, he tells @247Sports. Played for Mokan Elite this summer.— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) August 5, 2019
Other sports news
- Tyler Herro to back the Nike EYBL circuit’s Wisconsin-based Phenom University.
- Spin.ph, a Phillipino basketball publication has a good article about former NBA player and UK standout Terrence Jones, and how well he has done there. Consider this:
Right now though, the only people Jones is scaring is the rest of the PBA. Averaging 30.2 points, 15.7 rebounds and 7.5 assists per, Terrence is unstoppable as a typhoon, more dangerous than Chuck Norris.
You know you have made an impression when you get favorably compared to Chuck Norris.
- PJ Washington signs shoe deal with Nike.
- Katina Powell, famous Louisville basketball madam, has missed a court date and has had a warrant issued for her arrest.
- A close study of the La Brea Tar Pits is helping us understand why we have to deal with coyotes rather than saber-toothed tigers.
From all of humanity to the La Brea Tar Pits: Thank you. Coyotes are a nuisance, but they don’t have 12-inch fangs, razor-sharp claws and 500 lbs. of appetite for fresh-killed meat.