I have to admit I got a good chuckle out the comments by Vince Marrow a couple days ago about the proximity of Kentucky football to Alabama and Ohio State. On the one hand, Vince Marrow has always been a big hype man for this program. I wouldn’t trade Vince Marrow for another assistant coach in the country. And having those kind of goals is always a good thing too. Mark Stoops and staff have pushed Kentucky further forward than I think most fans ever thought they could after 35 years of terrible football and back to back 2-10 seasons. So the sky could be the limit for the program.
But we also just finished a 4-6 season. And that Alabama team that Marrow mentioned? They beat us by 60 points. In November. So I think Vince knows and every fan knows that there was quite a bit of hyperbole in his comments. We aren’t close to Alabama. Or Georgia. Or Ohio State. Or lots of other programs. Again, we just had a losing season. So until we stop doing that every few years, we aren’t anything but an aspiring college football program. But’s that fine. It’s better than the status of the program in most eras.
But, while almost nobody actually thinks we are close to Alabama and Ohio State, I think many think we are close to being the 2nd best team in the SEC East, behind Georgia. And that the Bulldogs should be on alert for the up and coming Cats. And while that belief has very few facts to back it up, isn’t that what being a fan is about? Isn’t being a fan also being unrealistic? Because let’s be completely honest. We are more South Carolina than we are Florida. We are more Mississippi State than we are Auburn. Let’s do a quick quiz. Are we a top half SEC program? Many would say yes. I give you Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M. That’s 6 programs that are clearly ahead of us right now. So unless you are certain that our program is better than every remaining program, than we aren’t even in the top half of the SEC yet.
But again I ask, isn’t having these unrealistic beliefs what being a fan is all about? Or is it actually detrimental to the fan experience. Basketball preseason hype, usually based on unrealistic expectations from incoming freshman, has burned us multiple time. And yet, we are already hearing about what an impact Daimion Collins is gonna have. That could burn us once again. So should we continue with the hopes and dreams that normally let us down and then recycle it again for the next season. Or would it benefit to look at things a little more factually?
I honestly don’t know the answer. I know that I have personally become so frustrated with the overhyping of a basketball team each preseason that has underperformed most years since 2015. It’s our own fault and comes from what the first 5 years of Calipari brought us. But can we just say that expecting 18 year olds to dominate from the minute we step on campus is actually not the most likely scenario. Rather there will almost certainly be a learning curve for Collins, Hickman, and others. But in football it’s almost like the opposite exists for me. Hype away Vince Marrow. We have spent 30 years watching losing football. And there is at least some reasons to celebrate the program now. Certainly now more than in a very long time. Sure, they could very well go 6-6 again. Learning to consistently throw a forward pass would be a good start. But screw it, Alabama might be 60 points better on any given day but overall, we are very close to them. Hype away! Right?