Any media day for any collegiate football team is a jovial affair, a grip-and-grin to celebrate the occasion of embarking on another season.
Yet I didn't quite know what to think Friday when Rich Brooks chuckled at my question during the issues-and-answers session of the day's festivities.
And no, I didn't ask Brooks if he was saving himself for anything.
Here was the question: "People have talked about the goal of going to a fourth straight bowl game, but I've heard you speak several times of wanting to make more of an impact in the league race. How close do you think you are to doing that?"
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He laughed because (a) it was a laughable question, or (b) he didn't like the laughable question, or (c) he knows more than most anyone how tough it is to break the glass ceiling into the top half of the toughest division in all of sports — yes, all of sports — the SEC East.
Brooks didn't explain, but I'm guessing (c).
After all, just twice in the 17 years since the SEC split into divisions in 1992 has Kentucky finished among the East's top trio.
There was the Peach Bowl year of 1993 (UK was 4-4 in the league for third outright) and the first Music City Bowl year of 2006 (4-4 and third-place tie with Georgia, whom the Cats beat during the regular season).
Bowl games are great, especially when UK's bowl history is the kind they write pamphlets about. And Brooks' string of post-season triumphs has fashioned a cumulative effect, with one bowl leading to the next bowl, and one good recruiting class leading to an even better recruiting class.
That's the kind of progress they write books about, i.e. Tom Leach's new book Rich Tradition with Brooks.
But fans, and media, and occasional coaches, are always speaking of the next step. A program has done one thing; it's time for another.
The problem is that at some point the fan base becomes spoiled, and then antsy, and then frustrated, and going to bowl games will not be enough to satisfy its ever-growing need for "the next step," especially when making more noise in the SEC would be a so-much-more delightful step.
"(Bowl appearances) are critical, but that isn't what we want to accomplish," Brooks said Friday. "We want to accomplish something a lot higher on that SEC East pecking order and be a factor in the race."
"I think we're right there," said Mike Hartline, the quarterback.
"I definitely think we're right there," said Corey Peters, the senior defensive tackle.
"I think we're right on the brink of it," said Micah Johnson, the senior linebacker.
(Someone cue that 1991 Jesus Jones song, Right Here, Right Now.)
OK, everyone appears to be on the same page, a good sign. But please elaborate.
"You look at our season last season," Hartline said. "We lost some games by a fair margin, but at the same time we were right there with a few teams. We've just got to put it all together."
"If you go back and look at our past games, we were a play or two away in some games," Peters said. "I definitely feel like we have the talent, we've reached that level where we can compete with anybody."
There is a difference between competing and winning, of course. There was a time, not so long ago, when Kentucky could not compete. Now it can compete to the point where it qualified for three consecutive bowls (for the first time in history), and came home with three victorious bowl trophies (for the first time in history).
Don't get me wrong, or laugh; a fourth bowl trophy would be great. Smashing that glass SEC East ceiling would be better still.
"We've shocked a few teams in the last three years, but we have not shocked enough," said Rich Brooks. "We need to do it in one season to where we can get up there and get in the hunt."