Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How Can You Expect a Kentucky School to Beat Florida in Football?

Here are the scores of UK's games against Florida since 1986, the last time the Cats beat the Gators (home team listed first):

09/22/2012:  Florida 38 - 0 Kentucky
09/24/2011:  Kentucky 10 - 48 Florida
09/25/2010:  Florida 48 - 14 Kentucky
09/26/2009:  Kentucky 7 - 41 Florida
10/25/2008:  Florida 63 - 5 Kentucky
10/20/2007:  Kentucky 37 - 45 Florida
09/23/2006:  Florida 26 - 7 Kentucky
09/24/2005:  Kentucky 28 - 49 Florida
09/25/2004:  Florida 20 - 3 Kentucky
09/27/2003:  Kentucky 21 - 24 Florida
09/28/2002:  Florida 41 - 34 Kentucky
09/22/2001:  Kentucky 10 - 44 Florida
09/23/2000:  Florida 59 - 31 Kentucky
09/25/1999:  Kentucky 10 - 38 Florida
09/26/1998:  Florida 51 - 35 Kentucky
09/27/1997:  Kentucky 28 - 55 Florida
09/28/1996:  Florida 65 - 0 Kentucky
09/09/1995:  Kentucky 7 - 42 Florida
09/10/1994:  Florida 73 - 7 Kentucky
09/11/1993:  Kentucky 20 - 24 Florida
09/12/1992:  Florida 35 - 19 Kentucky
11/16/1991:  Florida 35 - 26 Kentucky
11/17/1990:  Kentucky 15 - 47 Florida
11/18/1989:  Florida 38 - 28 Kentucky
11/12/1988:  Kentucky 19 - 24 Florida
11/14/1987:  Florida 27 - 14 Kentucky

In case you're keeping score at home, that's 26 victories in a row by Florida over UK, and most of those games were blowouts.  In fact, these are not even games that the UK coach is expected to win, or even to be competitive in.  Everyone, from the UK Athletic Director to the Kentucky media to most of the fans, simply goes into the season expecting the Cats to get drilled by Florida.  Doesn't matter who the Gators have. Doesn't matter who UK has.  No one ever calls for a UK coach to get fired because he doesn't beat Florida, or because he's not competitive with Florida.  Because, you see, no school from Kentucky can ever beat Florida in football.  That's just nuts.

But as I type this, the Louisville Cardinals lead Florida 30-10.  In the fourth quarter.  Of the Sugar Bowl.

I can't even imagine the reaction if a Kentucky coach announced that his goal was to win the Sugar Bowl.  Since 1976, UK has won exactly four bowl games.  One of those was the 1984 Hall of
Fame Bowl, which no longer exists.  Another was the 2008 Liberty Bowl (UK beat East Carolina).  And the other two were Music City Bowls.  UK hasn't even played in a major bowl since the Cats lost to TCU in the 1951 Cotton Bowl.  But, of course, what can you expect?  How can a school from Kentucky win a major bowl game?

Well, if Louisville wins today, the Cardinals can put the 2012 Sugar Bowl Trophy next to their 2006 Orange Bowl Trophy and their 1990 Fiesta Bowl Trophy.

For some reason, U of L's success never gets discussed when folks are explaining why Kentucky can't win.  But it should.  Because U of L proves, year after year, that the excuses made on UK's behalf are simply not valid.  If Louisville can find a way to get good coaches and players to their school, the Cats should be able to do the same.  The fact that they can't -- that they barely even try -- is nothing to be proud of.

Oh, and Louisville now leads 33-10.


  1. Consider this: Since the late 1980's, Louisville has had three different football coaches -- Schnellenberger, Petrino, and now Charlie Strong -- who are each better than any football coach UK has hired during the same period. How is that even possible?

  2. Two things I would note.

    First that when Louisville brought in Schnellenberger it was with the intention of building Louisville into a consistent football power. They got a complete buy in from their alumni that this was the move they wanted to make and they have never backed off spending the money necessary to make it happen. As I said when UK was looking for a football coach, you have to have the alumni buy in first. For some reason the UK alumni have never made this kind of commitment to UK football, not sure why. Of course you can look at the mess at UNC and see maybe one reason. UNC alumni made a similar committment when they hired Butch Davis and dumped millions into that program only to bring shame to not only the football program, but now the basketball program as well.

    Second point is that Schnellenberger may be one of the most brilliant people to pass through college football and no one even remembers him now. He built Miami into a power and then did the same for Louisville. It's amazing what he was able to accomplish at those two schools. It's also amazing that those two programs have stayed relevant long after he left.

    1. I totally agree with you about Schnellenberger.

      I also agree that U of L has made a serious commitment to football. But I would like to know whether U of L's budget is actually larger than UK's.

    2. That's a good question. I know when I was at UK they raised as much money as needed to build an indoor training facility for football. So I don't think it's a lack of money, but I think it requires that first step where you bring in a guy like a Schnellenberger and you give him total control and you say do what you need to turn this into a long term winning program. I'm not sure how many guys exist that can do that, or how many institutions can give over that control. Think about how long the Yankees floundered around until that was essentially what they did.

      When I was in NC, Duke did the same thing. They made a very public commitment to turning their football program around. It's been a slow process, but it is showing improvement. Personally I thought UK could have tried doing this with Petrino, assuming he would agree to like a five year deal and you felt he could take on that role.

    3. I think you're right that the key point is that the Athletic Department has to be willing to find a high-quality coach, and then give that coach the authority he needs to do the job.

  3. 9/28/2013: Kentucky 7 - 24 Florida

    Florida did not have its starting quarterback for this game.