Former coach Rich Brooks isn’t worried about UK’s close games


UK head coach Rich Brooks runs off the field after his team’s 21-14 victory over Auburn at the Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday. Photo by Zach Brake

As a former head coach for UK football, Rich Brooks understands what this year’s Cats are going through.

The Cats are 5-2, but a lot of fans aren’t completely sold on this year’s team being legitimate because of all of the close games they’ve played. Many fans felt the games against the weaker non-conference opponents should have been blowouts instead of the close games they were.

However, Brooks thinks fans should give the Cats a break.

“Kentucky fans are a little fickled, they’re great but they’re fickled,” Brooks said in a press conference on Friday afternoon. “For them to be 5-1 but be not happy for this team who believe that we haven’t blown some of these people out, it’s crazy. They’re 5-1 for God’s sake, how many times has Kentucky been 5-1? Not very many.” 

The Cats got off to a 5-1 start for only the third time in the 21st century, which has put UK in prime position to play in their second bowl game in a row.

However, fans still aren’t satisfied because they’ve had to sit through stressful games nearly every week this season. The close games against some weaker non-conference games have critics saying Kentucky isn’t legitimate just yet.

Brooks doesn’t care about close wins because to him, a win is a win.

“Kentucky can do something very special, and you know what, I don’t care if it’s pretty, I just want to see the ‘W,’” Brooks said. “How they get it I don’t care, fumble return for a touchdown, safety, blocked kick, somebody making a great catch, I don’t care, somebody running over somebody, just get the win.”

However, last weekends game against Mississippi State was not a close game, in fact, it was the Cats’ worst loss of the season. Brooks watched that game, and got the chance to speak to the team about the loss.

“Coach Stoops had me address the team and I told them, ‘hey I’ve watched basically almost every game you’ve played this year, and that wasn’t you,’” Brooks said. “Just like Andre Woodson got up in the locker room after we lost at LSU saying that isn’t you, that isn’t us. Well let’s go out and show who we really are this week.”

Kentucky has a big chance to prove to the fan base that they’re for real this weekend, when they face Tennessee. 

Despite the Volunteers going through a down year, a win against Tennessee would mean a lot to the fan base, as the Cats have only beaten the Volunteers once since 1985. 

Brooks will be in attendance, as him and some of his past teams will be honored during the game. Brooks hopes to see lots of fans in Kroger Field to cheer on the Cats alongside him.

“I hope fans will embrace that, I hope fans will come out, even though I know it’s supposed to be a really cold day tomorrow,” Brooks said. “I hope the fans fill the stadium to get it what used to be the biggest rival in Kentucky football.