I have been trying to wrangle my thoughts into a cohesive narrative concerning UK football. My most recent post asked all of us to quit being binary in our thinking. So, I will now attempt to take my own advice.
On the one hand, I understand the UK football fan who is frustrated by the offense or lack thereof. Since halftime of the South Carolina game what looked like a blossoming unit has withered on the vine. The line has regressed, the QB play has been sporadic, the receivers have disappeared and even Benny doesn’t quite look like Benny. And we seemingly can’t kick either. It is frankly tough to digest.
On the other hand, this is still the best UK football team of my memory. I was 2 years old in 1977. Maybe the 9-3 Hall of Fame squad coached by Jerry Clairborne will end up being comparable. But this is still by UK standards a banner year. So, I understand the folks who are weary of the fans who seem to spend all their time complaining.
What I do believe is that it is both reasonable to be frustrated with the demise of the UK offense and also be thankful for the success we have seen this year. It is fair to suggest that with even a decent offense, this team could be headed toward 11-1 and a possible playoff birth. It could have.
But, it also could have lived up to its preseason hype and been about 5-7 which I believe is what most predicted. In many ways, this team has overachieved, not the opposite. We should have known that losing Stephen Johnson and Austin MacGinnis would cause problems. It has. Still, the team has found a way to be ranked nearly all year and be in at least the conversation for New Years bowls and more.
Which is the irony of the whole darn thing. Had UK not looked so good early, had it not dominated Florida and Mississippi State and South Carolina (for at least a half), we would likely not have gotten the joy of hope. Truth is we have never seen it here. Never. For the first time in our lives as UK football fans, we could actually believe at least for a moment that we could be national champions…in football.
And that feeling led to a euphoria which then usually leads to its opposite. Like Icarus, we UK fans were riding our wings of wax far too close to the sun. For a moment we believed the impossible dream. And now the reality of it all has gutted us and left us angry and more than willing to express that anger in whatever direction we can find.
But, even now as the season perhaps concludes in less than stellar fashion I am thankful for the ride. Although the story of Icarus ends poorly and perhaps was intended to teach us to dream small, I can imagine the sheer joy he felt as he continued to soar. For at least a moment he was truly the king of the world in a way he had never been before.
So too were we UK football fans. And it was glorious.