It's been 14 years since Tim Couch wore his No. 2 jersey on the field at Commonwealth Stadium, but his name is still everywhere: from the practice fields he helped purchase to numerous mentions in the Kentucky record book.
Last week, Couch was a color analyst for Kentucky's lightning-shortened game at Arkansas and he returns to the booth again this week with Bob Rathbun to call the Cats' matchup with No. 12 Georgia for Fox Sports South at Commonwealth Stadium.
On Thursday, I caught up with the former UK great and No. 1 NFL Draft pick, who lives in Lexington with his wife and two sons, and talked about everything from Kentucky's youth, to what it's like to play quarterback as a freshman in the Southeastern Conference to whether or not Joker Phillips should be the Cats' coach next season.
Below are excerpts from that chat:
Question: As a Kentucky guy, was it difficult to not only watch but also to call that 49-7 loss to Arkansas last week?
Answer: "Obviously I have a lot of ties to Kentucky, grew up a Kentucky fan and played there. I feel for them because they're so young. They're a group of freshmen out there playing. It's hard for me to criticize a group of guys who didn't expect to be on the field. The coaches didn't expect for them to be on the field in that role, in starting roles.
"They're out there playing major roles at major positions and I feel for them in that way and have a little sympathy for them."
Q: You've had the experience of playing quarterback as a true freshman in the SEC. Are there words to describe what that's like?
A: "It's extremely tough. The biggest thing about playing quarterback in the SEC, especially as a young guy, is you have to have talent around you to be successful. It's tough on any freshman quarterback, I don't care who you are, and if you don't have the supporting cast, I don't care who you are, it's hard to be successful."
Q: It seems like it's been especially difficult for freshman quarterback Jalen Whitlow ...
A: "Right now, Kentucky's struggling to run the football. They're not getting any help on the defensive side of the ball. They're getting a ton of points put up on them. So Jalen's pressing a little bit and it's hard on him as a freshman to go out there and make plays. You have to have that running game take the pressure off of you, and it's not happening for him."
Q: You've been around a lot of programs and called a lot of games, can you ever remember a string of injuries like Kentucky has had this season?
A: "I've been thinking about that since last week, and I don't think I've ever seen it quite as bad, especially at one particular position, like that safety position, which has just been decimated. ... It's just been an unfortunate string of bad luck for them. I've never seen anything like it really."
Q: There's been a lot of talk about whether or not Kentucky should look for a new coach. Have you weighed in on that at all?
A: "I really don't get into it. I try not to get into that until it's time. When things are going bad, that's the talk of the town and everybody wants to get rid of the coach. But I don't think that's necessarily always the best move. I'm not saying it's not the best move here. I'm not really sure.
"I don't really cover Kentucky. I cover other teams and I'm on the road, not really that close to the program right now. It's tough on whoever's going to be here with all of these young guys. In my opinion, it wouldn't really matter who's coaching right now. With these young guys, you're not going to see much of a difference. Maybe down the road, when these young guys are juniors and seniors and they've had all of this experience they're getting now, then it will pay off. Right now, it would be tough on anyone."
Q: What's it like for you to return to Commonwealth Stadium? What do you think about when you walk in there?
A: "The memories. My dad, who passed away a few years ago, used to always take me to the games when I was a kid, so probably just all those memories of going to games and then playing there. All those come back when you walk back into the stadium. It's a really cool place for me to go back to."