1986: The World when UK last defeated Florida



By Alex Forkner | Football Columnist

[email protected]

The year was 1986. Ronald Reagan was in the White House. A gallon of gas cost 93 cents. The Oprah Winfrey Show premiered nationally.

And UK last beat the Florida Gators, 10-3.

I wasn’t even a glimmer in my parents’ eyes then. No current Cats player was alive to see it happen. UK head coach Mark Stoops was in his first year on the Iowa football team.

Chances are you’ve heard Florida has beaten UK 26 years in a row, the current longest continuous winning streak in college football. That’s a pretty long time.

To fully appreciate the breadth of this losing streak, let’s take a look at what the world was like in that glorious year and how it looks now.

1. Cell phones weighed two pounds and cost over $3,000. The iPhone 5s released last weekend weighs less than four ounces and costs $400 at its most expensive. Could you imagine the hip surgeries needed after carrying around a three-pound phone for a decade?

2. The New York Mets won the World Series. It’s true — the Mets were once good at baseball.

3. The Internet was in its infancy. There were no sports blogs, no music streaming, no YouTube. Those of you reading this online would have had no such option. And those of you reading this in print: What is this, 1986? Get with the times.

4. Two-year-old Mark Zuckerberg had yet to invent Facebook. What did teenage girls do back then?

5. Lady Gaga was born, which is presumably the inspiration for her smash single, “Born This Way.”

6. Hip hop, or rap music as you kids like to call it today, had just become a thing. Now we have dubstep. Score one for 1986.

7. Back then, people played a side-scrolling video game about two Italian plumbers who traveled to strange worlds through pipes and battled armored turtles and saved a princess. Let’s just say “Grand Theft Auto V” is a little bit different.

8. The Voyager 2 space probe, launched by NASA in 1977, made it past Uranus in 1986, a distance of 2.57 billion kilometers from Earth. The spacecraft has since traveled to the edge of the solar system, 15.35 billion kilometers from Earth. So, a hunk of floating space metal has drifted nearly eight billion miles further away since UK has managed to outscore Florida on a football field. I feel small and inconsequential.

9. Perhaps you couldn’t make it to Commonwealth Stadium that day to see the Cats pull off the win. Well it almost certainly wasn’t on television. You know, that floor console TV that weighed a ton with a knob to twist to change channels and had bunny ears screwed in the back.

10. The band Europe released its monster hit “The Final Countdown”, which can still be heard in sports stadiums everywhere. Some things get better with age: bourbon, your favorite pair of blue jeans and Swedish hair metal.

Clearly, the world is a different place since the Cats topped the Gators 26 years ago. There’s a whole new culture.

And if Stoops can somehow lead UK to a staggering upset over No. 20 Florida, he can cement a culture change at his program. UK will no longer be the answer to a trivia question, no longer trivial in the mighty SEC.

Will it happen Saturday? It’s been a long time coming.