If you are one of the chosen few who actually read this blog on a regular basis, you’ll know that I am a Big Orange fan from way, way back. (About 45 years, to be specific.) I can wax poetic about the 1985 Orange Bowl upset of Miami, can tell you all about the national championship season, can even regale you with tales of John Ward and Ray Mears. In short, I’m a Vol fan through and through. So grab Smokie’s leash and keep Pat Summitt away from me, because I’m about to say something heretical:
I hope Kentucky wins on Saturday.
Let me be clear: I cheer for Kentucky when they’re not playing Tennessee or Louisville. In fact, in the almost twenty years we have lived in The Ville, I’ve become almost as familiar with Kentucky sports lore (and Louisville’s, for that matter) as I am of Tennessee’s. So I know what a monumental upset it would be for Kentucky to beat the Big Orange in football. I also know that Tennessee has owned this series since before these players, and even some of their parents, were born.
Nevertheless, I am pulling for the Big Blue to turn the Big Orange into a new kind of blue: the blue that comes from losing to a border-state rival for the first time in years, decades, maybe ever.
Why am I pulling against my home-town school? There’s a number of reasons, but here’s the main one:
For Tennessee, this would be just another win on a rebuilding, ho-hum season. For Kentucky, it would be the capper of a highlight season, and give them the recognition and reward they deserve.
After years of rebuilding the Kentucky program, and then taking it to new levels of achievement, Rich Brooks deserves to go out with one final signature win. We all know he is going to retire soon; Joker Phillips is waiting in the wings. Why not give “Papaw” the retirement gift to end all retirement gifts?
Brooks and his staff have been the poster kids for Hanging In There, for Perseverance, for Hard Work Will Pay Off. After all these years of slow rebuilding and slogging, they are on the verge of an 8-4 season, 2nd place in the SEC East, and a bowl that doesn’t have the word Music in the name. I want to see them get all of that. It’s time.
Lane Kiffin’s time will come. He is building a good program in K-town, I think (if his mouth doesn’t blow it all up). The Vols are bowl eligible, and as well as they travel they’ll get an invite. For now, they can be happy with that. I want to see the Kentucky team and coaches win this one, get to 8-4, and celebrate Rich Brooks and all he has done.
So, for this Saturday only, I’m cheering for the Cats over my beloved Vols. Here’s hoping they’ve still got enough “Papaw Power” to make it happen.