NOV. 5: GEORGIA AT KENTUCKY, TBA
UGA LEADS 54-12-2
LAST YEAR: Bulldogs won 27-3
HOOVER, Ala. — Kentucky tailback Jojo Kemp came here to SEC media days wearing a blue suit and a blue bowtie. He called it Kentucky “Derby,” or “Dirty,” it wasn’t really clear.
“I came here with the swag to show you it’s a new Kentucky,” Kemp said, appending an earlier statement in which he said: “It’s the new Kentucky. We have to have the wins to match it.”
Well yes, that would be the key. In the years since Rich Brooks stepped down, the Wildcats have struggled to get back to respectability. And they enter this year without much buzz, other than whether they’ll soon be again looking for a new coach.
Brooks guided Kentucky to five straight winning seasons, then turned it over to Joker Phillips, who was fired after three losing seasons. Then Kentucky hired Mark Stoops, who had a famous last name, a good pedigree (defensive coordinator at Florida State) and a good start recruiting-wise.
But the Wildcats have gone 2-10, 5-7 and 5-7. When the SEC media predictions come out Thursday afternoon, Kentucky will come in anywhere from fourth to seventh.
“We’ve been close,” Stoops said Wednesday. “We’re tired of being close.”
There’s been a rebranding effort around Kentucky’s program. The stadium was refurbished, planned a $45 million facility and there have continued to be recruiting wins. Another five-star signed on this year.
As Kemp said, now they just need the wins to match the effort.
“The BBN needs it,” Kemp said, alluding to the Big Blue Nation moniker. “They need a winning football program.”