Mark Story: Strong's 6-6 record a little overhyped

Strong praised for 6-6; Joker not so much

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistNovember 30, 2010 

Quick hitters from the ... BBVA Compass Bowl?

21. Joker Phillips. Finished 6-6 in his first season as Kentucky coach and is on the fan-base griddle.

20. Charlie Strong. Finished 6-6 in his first season as Louisville coach and is King of the River City.

19. Joker Phillips. Took over a program that had played in four straight bowl games, and his challenge was/is "getting to the next level."

18. Charlie Strong. Inherited a four-win team from an unpopular, failed head coach.

17. Moral: Like playing the market, the perception of college coaches is totally dependent on the level at which the coach "bought" the "stock."

16. Kentucky's six wins: Louisville (6-6); Western Kentucky (2-10); Akron (1-11); SEC East champion South Carolina (9-3); Charleston Southern (3-8); Vanderbilt (2-10).

15. Louisville's six wins: Eastern Kentucky (6-5); Arkansas State (4-8); Memphis (1-11); Connecticut (7-4); Syracuse (7-5); Rutgers (4-7).

14. Kentucky: Had seven seniors (five on offense) listed as first string for its season finale against Tennessee.

13. Louisville: Had 13 seniors (eight on offense) listed as first string for its season finale against Rutgers.

12. Moral: Charlie Strong did a rock-solid job this year and may prove to be a tremendous coach at Louisville (or somewhere else), but I think his first season is being overpraised. Playing in a genuinely awful league with a veteran team, he won two more games than Steve Kragthorpe did the prior year.

11. A UK-U of L rematch: Is theoretically possible in Birmingham's BBVA Compass Bowl, which pits an SEC team against a Big East foe. However, ESPN.com Big East blogger Brian Bennett has South Florida going to Birmingham and U of L accepting an at-large bid to Detroit's Little Caesar's Bowl.

10. Tennessee. Going into Saturday's game with Kentucky, Tennessee's overall record over the past five seasons was 36-27.

9. Kentucky. Going into Saturday's game with Tennessee, UK's overall record over the past five seasons was 36-27.

8. Blowout city: From 1996 through 2000, UT beat Kentucky (in order) 56-10, 59-31, 59-21, 56-21 and 59-20.

7. Heartbreak hotel: From 2006 through 2010, UT beat Kentucky (in order) 17-12, 52-50 (four overtimes), 28-10, 30-24 (OT) and 24-14.

6. Moral: The most recent five years, in which the distance between the UK and UT programs is not nearly so great as it was in the days when Peyton Manning and Tee Martin were quarterbacking the Vols, have made the continued inability to beat the Rocky Toppers far more frustrating than the blowout days.

5. Former UT player and coach turned UK assistant Randy Sanders on The Streak: "I've been through it for five years now," Sanders said of his time at Kentucky. "We've had opportunities to make plays and win, we just haven't been able to make them. ... I wish I could put my finger on it and tell you what the difference is. There were a lot of years even when I was playing here or coaching at Tennessee when the game came down to the very end and it always seemed like we were able to make the play."

4. Evening the series. For Kentucky to even its all-time football series with Tennessee, it would have to win the next 51 games in a row (UT leads 74-23-9).

3. Blake Terry. It is being widely reported in the Texas media and on UK football-oriented Web sites that Kentucky has pulled its scholarship offer to linebacker prospect Terry after earlier accepting his commitment.

2. The spurned player's words: "I was committed. I didn't talk to anyone but them. I let everyone know my options were closed. I was solid. But I guess they weren't as solid as me," Terry told the Denton, Texas, Record-Chronicle. "I'd be more than happy to play in the SEC and play for a team that plays them and line up against them and show them that they made a huge mistake. I just want to play somewhere and have them know they should've never let me go."

1. Moral. Spare me the talk that it is OK for schools to pull offers after the players have committed because kids are always reneging on their word in recruiting. The standard for adults working for educational institutions should be higher than for teenagers.

Pulling a scholarship offer from a high school kid after you have taken their commitment was wrong when Bobby Petrino and Louisville did it to Brad Durham in 2006.

It's wrong now.

Reach Mark Story at (859) 231-3230 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3230, or mstory@herald-leader.com. Your e-mail could appear on the blog Read Mark Story's E-mail at Kentucky.com.

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