CATS Running Scared of Western

UK Coach Mark Stoops talks to WKU Coach Bobby Petrino prior to kick off.

UK Coach Mark Stoops talks to WKU Coach Bobby Petrino prior to kick off.

By CHRISTIE LEIGH MUELLER
Copy Editor & Writer

Week one of college football has come and gone, but not before a few scars were made on the CATS’ record and ego, and certainly not before Teddy Bridgewater lived up to his pre-season hype.

Even if you didn’t make the trip to the Music City or weren’t lucky enough to find yourself on the new Giga-Pan we took of Cardinal Stadium, below, Matt Jones of KSR and Tony Vanetti of Afternoon Underdogs fill us in on the highlights. Or in some cases, the low-lights of the weekend.

To get these two talking personalities started, the question, “should UK renew the Western Kentucky series?” was posed.

MATT JONES: Of course UK should not re-up this series. It never does KY any good to play this series. Go back 20 years when KY started playing Louisville. You can debate how much it’s helped Louisville. One thing we can agree on is that it hasn’t helped KY at all. Western Kentucky is an even more blatant case. Playing Western is a no-win situation for Kentucky.  You win, everyone says you should win.  You lose,  you become the laughing stock.  No offense to Western, I wish them luck, but I don’t think KY should play them anymore.

TONY VANETTI: Of course it’s helped KY. No one even talked about football before you started playing the Governor’s Cup. It was all about basketball and tailgating outside of Commonwealth Stadium. It’s helped both schools. I’ll give you that it’s helped Louisville more than it has UK. But yes, it has upped the ante in football for UK and that really is the sport that has taken off nationally, not basketball.

JONES: For KY, the marquee games are always going to be SEC games.  Now, it’s a good rivalry, it’s exciting, it’s fun for the fans. I’m glad they play Louisville. It gives us something to talk about.  But KY is in the SEC, so if they never play Louisville again, they are going to be fine. To be honest, Louisville will be fine now, too, that they are in the ACC. But 20 years ago, when Louisville was in conference USA, UK was the game of the year for them. For UK, Louisville is a rivalry, but they will always have a more important game. For Western, there is NOTHING positive to playing Western.  You just play; And when you lose, like we did Saturday, we look ridiculous.

VANETTI: Doesn’t that speak to the whole philosophy of the football program?  If you’re going to run from the Sunbelt team? If you can’t handle Western? Because at this point now, Western went out and went Division I; they’ve made moves; they now have a better coach–– and what seems to be better players–– they’ve won two years in a row—if you can’t handle Western, at what point do you think you can handle any team in the SEC?

JONES: But you’re missing the point. Of course, if you lose to Western, you’re going to lose to teams in the SEC.  UK is going to lose many games in the SEC this year. But when you’re trying to build a football program, you have to do what is smart for your football program, not what looks good on paper.  And what’s smart for KY is to play three games that they can guarantee to win—and to be fair most years if you’re where you should be, Western should be one of them.   But the embarrassment of losing to Western hurts your program.  It was nice to play them, but I completely believe they should end the series.

VANETTI:  I think what will help you all, is if Bobby and company go to Knoxville and they stay with Tennessee for 3 quarters, and they make that a ball game but lose barely at the end. That could make y’all feel better about the outcome from Saturday night.

JONES: Let’s say Western was to beat Tennessee, and then KY was to win by 25 to Miami.  All of the sudden,  that loss doesn’t look that bad. Western may have an outside shot.

Here is what Saturday night was, it was a realization of how far the program fell under Joker Phillips.  And now, the hope is, this is the bottom. Can we move up from here? I think the disappointment is not that they lost, but that they got dominated.   I think that was the wake-up call to the staff.

Ultimately, this season doesn’t matter.  They play Louisville, Florida, South Carolina, and Alabama. If in one of those games, they could just be competitive, I think fans  will get back on board and forget about the Western loss.

VANETTI: Well, it was a different setting in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on Sunday. Louisville dominated Ohio from start to end.  All anyone has been talking about is Teddy Bridgewater and his efficiency in his performance. His Vegas odds actually improved. He could get invited to New York.

JONES:  Oh, he’ll definitely get invited to New York.  Whether he wins it…? I think he’s probably the favorite now.  He’s going to put up crazy stats, in part, because he’s crazy good, but also because of the schedule.  Here’s the problem, they need just one or two games against opponents people think are worthy. I think there is going to be one, and it’s probably Cincinnati.  Unfortunately for Louisville, it’s a no-win situation. But, Teddy will be the #1 pick in the draft, without question, I think he’s a Heisman contender.

VANETTI: Matt Jones, everybody, a huge Teddy Bridgewater and University of Louisville fan. I love to hear it.

JONES:  Now, hold on, I’m a huge Teddy Bridgewater fan. He’s fun to watch.  He’s got all the tools. I wish I could see him play against really good teams to see how he handles that.  One thing is clear, when he is playing against inferior opponents, he doesn’t just beat them, he dissects them. I would like to see him play against guys on his level to see how he does.

VANETTI: Like the Florida game last year…

The nightmare scenario is Louisville losing to one of those bad teams and Teddy having a poor performance against a lower level team and knocking him out of the run for Heisman.

JONES:  Teddy wouldn’t win the Heisman and they wouldn’t go to the title game.

I still don’t think they’ll go to a title game, the schedule is just to bad. Which is a shame. Louisville fans, for a decade, have thought they were going great.

This year, for the first time, they might be a top 5 team. The problem is that they aren’t going to have a chance to show it.  They have their best team during their worst schedule year.

VANETTI: There wasn’t just a little buyer’s remorse on Saturday? Weren’t you watching and thinking…. “man, we could have had Bobby….”

JONES: Nah, not for me. I think Stoops is going to be very successful here. I would bring Rick Pitino back before I would have Bobby Petrino. 

VANETTI:  Christie Leigh, can you put that in bold?

 Photos by VICTORIA GRAFF | Contributing Photographer

 

  • Bob H

    Mr jones, you may need to check your facts. Before we were playing UK, we played teams such as Texas, Penn State,Ohio State and so on. To say UK was the big game on our schedule is a soory attempt to puff out your chest over nothing. Are you a good game on our schedule, yes. Are you or have you ever been the marquee game on our schedule, hardly.