Your Move, Mitch
By Derrick Stacy
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Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart is charged with finding the next head coach for the Wildcats.
The University of Kentucky football program, athletic department and fan base have reached a crossroads that even the great Robert Frost could appreciate; however, will the powers that be choose the appropriate path for a program that has fallen to beleaguered depths—uncompetitive, laughing stock and pathetic are terms that come to mind.
The program has receded to the days that Bill Curry roamed the sidelines, quickly deflating the mild improvements that were made during the Rich Brooks regime. A program that had become a main-stay in lower-tier bowl games and a thorn in the side of some of the SEC elite, is now wondering whether they will be favored against FBS foe Samford.
Suddenly, attending the Music City Bowl does not seem like a terrible avenue for the folks that tailgate along Cooper Drive in beautiful Lexington, Kentucky.
Joker Phillips and his staff of incompetent assistants pined for the ability to defeat Western Kentucky, much less Clemson or Florida State, and that inadequacy has resulted in the current state of football in the Bluegrass.
The aforementioned “uncompetitive, laughing stock and pathetic” are terms that are permeating throughout the program, exemplified by the “18,885” fans that passed through the turnstiles of Commonwealth Stadium last weekend, during a 40-0 shellacking at the hands of Vanderbilt (credit to Jen Smith of the Lexington Herald Leader).
Yes, that Vanderbilt.
Yes, on Kentucky’s home field.
Thankfully, for the Wildcat Faithful, there is a glimmer of hope within the sea of rough waters, the anticipation of potentially hiring one of the game’s most talented coaches. A name that is all too familiar to SEC foes: Bobby Petrino.
Yes, that Petrino. Sans the motorcycle, blonde mistress and integrity, but with a potential renewed sense of vigor and a mouth that is salivating at the possibility of returning to the SEC.
Don’t worry, the screams are heard loud and clear.
“Bobby Petrino is an embarrassment! He lies! He cheats on his wife! He will leave you stranded in the middle of the night with only Peter Gabriel and 'In your Eyes' to comfort your broken heart.”
Yes, he is dishonest, surly, reeks of arrogance and will leave you alone in your bed sheets at night.
But, he is one hell of a football coach.
Many will say, “How could Kentucky hire someone that has blatantly embarrassed his employers and himself over his years spent on the sidelines?”
Two words: Wins and money.
Those are items that are craved by the Kentucky Athletic Department and the fans that fill the seats of Commonwealth stadium, a crowd that has supported the program with top-25 attendance numbers throughout years of ineptitude—until a feeling of apathy swarmed the program over the past two seasons.
He will win.
He always wins, even with lesser talent than his opponent roaming the other sideline. The aforementioned being a specific trait needed in the football graveyard of Kentucky High School football.
Sure, there are other options that exist and will arise within the coaching search that is currently underway. Names like Sonny Dykes, Mark Hudspeth, Neal Brown and, insanely enough, Rex Ryan will be mentioned, contacted and potentially interviewed, like any normal coaching search; however, in the end, one question remains: Which road will Mitch Barnhardt and the University of Kentucky choose?
Improvement or continuance of failure?
That remains to be seen, but only one will salvage the disaster that currently resides on the corners of Alumni and University Drives on the campus of The University of Kentucky.
Your move, Mitch.