Mark Story's notes: Eight is enough for Joker Phillips

Go where UK has rarely gone

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistAugust 17, 2011 

Quick hitters from the Heartbreak Hotel:

21. Joker Phillips. Have I mentioned I feel a bit sorry for the University of Kentucky head football coach?

20. The 'victory ceiling' on UK football? During its current five-year bowl streak, Kentucky has won 7, 7, 6, 7 and 6 games, respectively, in the regular season.

19. Joker's standard for success. To take the proverbial next step as UK football coach, Phillips needs to lead the program to at least eight regular-season wins and do it sometime soon.

18. A historically daunting challenge. Since Bear Bryant left Kentucky after the 1953 season, the Cats have won eight games in the regular season exactly three times — and only once without an extenuating circumstance.

17. 1976. The record book says Fran Curci's fourth team finished the regular season 8-3. However, the Cats actually went 7-4 on the field, including a loss to Mississippi State in Jackson. Subsequently, the NCAA ruled that MSU had used an ineligible player, and the Bulldogs forfeited their win to UK (which also made Kentucky the 1976 SEC co-champion with Georgia).

16. 1977. Curci's fifth edition of Cats went 10-1 but was ineligible for the conference title or a bowl bid because of NCAA probation.

15. 1984. Jerry Claiborne's third Kentucky team went 8-3 in the regular season and did it without the benefit of any forfeits and without being on probation.

14. Joker's task. To ultimately be perceived as "succeeding," all Phillips has to do is consistently get Kentucky football to a win total that UK has failed to achieve 54 times in the past 57 regular seasons.

13. Kentucky football's 'glamour' jersey number. It has become No. 18, whose last two wearers became a two-time first-team All-SEC tight end, Jacob Tamme, and a first-team AP All-American, Randall Cobb.

12. Glenn Faulkner. The four-star true freshman safety from East St. Louis, Ill., is next in line wearing No. 18 for Kentucky. Says Faulkner: "I'm going to do my best to make (the) jersey live on throughout the school."

11. Paul Warford. The former Kentucky starting cornerback, whose Wildcats career was ended by grade problems, will not be academically eligible to play what would have been his final season of eligibility at Georgetown College this fall. "It's a shame," Tigers Coach Bill Cronin says.

10. UK football recruiting. By my count, Kentucky has 18 oral commitments.

9. UK football recruiting a year ago. This time last summer, UK had 17 pledges. Of those, nine actually signed with the Cats.

8. Moral about early football recruiting commitments. Take them all with a grain of salt.

7. Louisville to the SEC? If U of L becomes a candidate in what seems the inevitable next round of SEC expansion, would UK try to help out a fellow school from its own state or fight to block an invite to the Cardinals out of perceived self-interest?

I'd bet on the latter.

6. Joe B. and Denny. Joe B. Hall says his friendship with former archrival Denny Crum has been fueled by the pair's mutual love of hunting and fishing. Says Hall: "Denny may be from Los Angeles, but he's a farm boy at heart."

5. The mistaken identity of Keegan Bradley. It probably won't surprise you to know that the Twitter account of "Keegan Bradley" blew up with followers after Sunday's PGA Championship ended.

Yet "Keegan Bradley" was stunned.

4. The wrong guy in Lexington. Keegan Bradley, 27, a 2003 Paul Laurence Dunbar graduate and a former U.S. Marine, had a largely dormant Twitter account — until his email box suddenly filled up late Sunday with notifications because he was adding a rush of followers.

3. Congratulations, Keegan. Keegan Bradley of Lexington's sudden burst of Twitter popularity was caused, obviously, because the 25-year-old golfer of the same name (a Vermont native) had just won the first major golf tournament in which he ever played.

2. Trying to set the record straight. Lexington's Bradley, a non-golfer, says he started out attempting to tell his new Twitter followers that they were congratulating the wrong guy. Then he adopted a different tack. "I decided, what the heck, I might as well have fun with it," he says. "I started posting as the golfer but in the most bizarre way possible."

1. Not worrying about setting the record straight. One person who congratulated Lexington's Bradley for "winning" the PGA got the following reply from the aspiring stand-up comic: "I wrote, 'I took my putter and used it to smite the enemies of Odin,' " he says.

May as well enjoy your 15 minutes of (Twitter) fame, even if it rightfully belongs to someone else.

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