Adams: Kentucky's success is all about Brooks

DESTIN, Fla. — This column is proud to announce it is entering college football’s award business.

Your probable response: Why?

My response to your response: Why not?

I realize I’m a little late to the party. The sport already has almost as many awards as it does bowl games.

College football honors players at every position, even if the position is relevant only on fourth down. It has multiple awards for quarterbacks. And, in its most confusing seasons, it awards a national championship trophy to two teams.

But it doesn’t have a Rich Brooks award. That’s where this column comes in.

The winner of the Rich Brooks award is …

… Kentucky coach Rich Brooks.

As you might have noticed, the award differs from other college football awards in that the name of the award and the winner are the same.

So what? It’s my award. And Brooks deserves it.

He has been overlooked too often — nationally, in the SEC, and even at his own school. In a conference renowned for outstanding coaches, he’s one of them.

The long-term future of Kentucky football is Joker Phillips, who already has been designated as Brooks’ successor. The current big thing in Kentucky sports is newly hired basketball coach John Calipari.

But the school’s startling success in football is all about Brooks, who has led the Wildcats to three consecutive winning seasons. The last coach to accomplish that was Blanton Collier, 53 years ago.

Brooks hasn’t just won. He has won under the most adverse circumstances.

It was bad enough that he came aboard when in-state rival Louisville was peaking. But an NCAA probation sentence had left the Wildcats terribly lacking in SEC-caliber players.

“It didn’t set us back,” Brooks said of the scholarship reductions. “It killed us.

“When I got there, we had 68 players on scholarships. The freshman and sophomores were recruited with us on probation, so the talent level was not SEC talent.”

It’s no wonder that Kentucky lost 25 games in its first three seasons under Brooks. The wonder is in what happened next. Brooks’ fourth team went 8-5. So did his fifth team, which upset national championship contender LSU along the way. And his last team somehow managed to win seven games with only a whimper of offense.

Kentucky has won 20 of its last 32 games under Brooks. Moreover, it is 12-7 in games decided by 10 points or fewer. That should spin the heads of Kentucky fans, who have seen so many close games take a dreadful turn in the final minutes or seconds.

Those fourth-quarter disasters often could be a attributed to speed or lack thereof. When Brooks assumed control of a program in crash mode, he had one player who could run 40 yards in 4.5 seconds or better. Now, he has 20 to 25 players who can do that.

“Size is important,” said Brooks, who is attending the SEC spring meetings this week. “But we had to recruit speed.”

And the coach couldn’t be too slow himself.

“I worried about whether I would have the time — another year (after those three consecutive losing seasons) — to get it done,” he said. “That was a real concern.”

Given time, he didn’t doubt the outcome. Why would he? This wasn’t even his toughest rebuilding job.

“At Oregon, we had to rebuild everything,” he said. “We had nothing. We didn’t have a fan base. We had awful facilities.”

In 1979-80, Brooks led Oregon to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in 16 years. In 1989, the Ducks won eight games for the first time in 26 years. And in 1994, when they won nine games for the first time since 1948, Brooks won four national coach of the year awards.

It’s about time he won another award.

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Comments » 18

back2backchamps writes:

Good story. Brooks wouldn't have lasted 3 seasons for their basketball fans. Football not quite so important there.

george8412#649143 writes:

Who cares.

Stark_Vol writes:

still cant beat UT

dvhill100 writes:

He has done a remarkable job at a basketball school. He and Bobby Johnson are both under appreciated for what they have accomplished with the constraints they have to deal with. Glad to see a little credit go to him.

Stark_Vol writes:

in response to dvhill100:

He has done a remarkable job at a basketball school. He and Bobby Johnson are both under appreciated for what they have accomplished with the constraints they have to deal with. Glad to see a little credit go to him.

Im not.. I loved it when I could look at the schedule and think 'beat them by 20 or 30?'. in no sense of the word do i worry about those games now, but the gap is no longer the grand canyon

CoachNeyland writes:

UT has good years and bad years, but Kentucky will always be Kentucky.

writer#358485 writes:

It's good to see Kentucky, and Vanderbilt for that matter, be semi-competitive in the SEC. It helps everyone else in the league when even the bottom dwellers can have winning seasons. Have to credit Adams, not one of my favorite co-writers, with a good piece and a good idea. Go Vols!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Their football fans are quality drinkers.

writer#358485 writes:

in response to hiresanders:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Oh, I think Pat Summit is about as classy a coach as they come, as was Fulmer. The verdict is still out on Kiffin. Normally "class" isn't something you get out of California, but he may just be exhuberant and will get over it. However, if he continues down the Spurrier-lip pathway, then you may have a point there. We'll see. Of course, we'll still beat Kentucky. I do prefer to do it with "class" however. Go Vols.

Bigger_Al writes:

The Brooks Way includes having four "can't lose" non-conference games (was three before Petrino left Louisville - now U of L is so bad that there is no way UK can lose that game). That makes them 4-0 going into the SEC, and they play Vandy and Miss. State every year. That means they can get "Bowl Eligible" without beating a quality team. They have beaten LSU, Georgia, Ole Miss, and Arkansas a time or two along the way, and they have done well in their Bowl games (against a severely handicapped FSU team and East Carolina).

UK was really tough in 2007. Otherwise, the Brooks way is a masterful job of cup-cake scheduling and counting on the Adams of the World not remembering or considering the competition.

Colliervol writes:

in response to george8412#649143:

Who cares.

Ditto.

givehim6 writes:

You know what would be funny? If this year UK would beat UF, but still lost to UT.

writer#358485 writes:

in response to givehim6:

You know what would be funny? If this year UK would beat UF, but still lost to UT.

I wouldn't hold my breath on either game.

tnboystuckinkentucky writes:

in response to CatScratchFever:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

We did lose to Wyoming on homecoming day, but then we beat the Mildcats down after Thansgiving, or should I call it Spanksgiving, cause that's what happens every year we play your pathetic excuse for a football team. This year will be 25 straight, I do believe!

tnboystuckinkentucky writes:

in response to hiresanders:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

vscebail#247785 writes:

I do believe that this is the most positive article that John Adams has ever written about football... Too bad it was about Kensucky and not Tennessee.

CrankE writes:

Headline: Adams success is all about Teebow

The big K on the helmet will always stand for Kittens.

ect1983 writes:

in response to hiresanders:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Open statement to KNS----"HireSanders" needs to be PERMANENTLY banned.....and Pat Summitt needs to file a slander suit. I AM SERIOUS>

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