Barnhart glad the bowl game gives UK a chance to show who they are


UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart talks to the media after the ceremony for the new baseball stadium, scheduled to be finished fall 2018. Members of the University of Kentucky baseball team, coaching and supporting staffs, and season ticket holders signed a beam that was incorporated into the new baseball stadium on campus. The beam was installed during the “topping-out” ceremony on Thursday, November 2, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky, which is a tradition in the construction of large structures signifying the placement of the largest or highest piece of steel on the structure. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Chris Leach

The last image Kentucky fans have of their football team was all the unsportsmanlike penalties and undisciplined play that took place against Louisville.

The showing left a negative feeling over UK’s football team as they head into the postseason. Thankfully for the Cats, they’ll get a chance to redeem themselves at the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, where Kentucky will end its season against Northwestern.

“What we saw last Saturday is not who we are, never has been,” UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said on Sunday evening. “It’s not who we will be and that is for sure.” 

Barnhart spent a majority of his press conference on Sunday expressing his disappointment in the players’ actions, but also his belief that it won’t happen again. The Cats haven’t lost their cool like that in recent memory, and Barnhart doesn’t expect it to be an issue in the bowl, or future games.

“I assure you their focus will be on reestablishing the way that they have played on the field and the way they represented this program on and off the field,” Barnhart said.

The best way the Cats have been changing their focus is by getting ready for the bowl game. In the week since the Louisville loss, players have been studying their own film while logging some extra minutes in the weight room.

“I think the team is hungry,” senior wide-out Charles Walker said.

With all the close losses this season and undisciplined play against Louisville, a bowl game win over the No. 21 team in the nation would end the season of mixed emotions on a high note.

“That bad taste in our mouth from that last game hasn’t gone away,” quarterback Stephen Johnson said. “A lot of us are really trying to go out and get this win.”

Despite it not being the case against Louisville, Barnhart believes the players on the team are able to overcome the doubts and prove that they are a respectable football team.

“We got a group of guys that believe in playing the game hard, doing all we can to win the game the right way, and representing this university the right way,” Barnhart said. “We’ve all talked and Mark (Stoops) addressed it and I think that we’ll move on.” 

If the Cats can play disciplined and win the bowl game, it’ll go a long way in winning the fan base back over. Barnhart is glad that the additional opportunity of the bowl game gives UK a chance to do so.

“I want to shut that door and move on,” Barnhart said. “Let’s go find a way to reestablish who we are.”