Down in Sweet Home Alabama next week they will crank up the four-day monster that is SEC Football Media Days with a blizzard of lights, cameras and questions.
For Kentucky, however, there is only one question that really matters.
Can the Cats win six games?
Can Mark Stoops' third team reach the holy grail of bowl eligibility? After a string of five straight bowl appearances, the Cats haven't experienced a postseason party since Joker Phillips' first club danced in 2010. And even that was out of tune, the Cats losing the BBVA Compass Bowl to Pittsburgh in (blah) Birmingham.
Since then, UK is 14-34. Phillips was fired. Stoops was hired. The Cats opened strong last year, 5-1 at the mid-point, but buckled under the weight of a strong schedule to finish 5-7. Air escaped the balloon.
This time around, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the season. Three nice recruiting classes have given Stoops more depth and skill than his previous two teams. But is there enough? After all, last year's two best players, defensive ends Bud Dupree and Za'Darius Smith, are prepping for NFL training camps. And the SEC promises to be another barbecue pit.
But as longtime Kentucky football sufferers, er, followers know, often it's not who's playing for the Cats as much as it is who's playing against the Cats — and when and where.
With that in mind, a scan of the 2015 schedule points to a crucial first month. The first four games might not be make-or-break, but they should at least set the tone.
First, be warned: The opening week opponent, UL-Lafayette, is no pushover. The Ragin' Cajuns were 9-4 last season and beat Nevada in the New Orleans Bowl. When Mitch Barnhart fired Phillips, several encouraged the UK AD to give Lafayette Coach Mark Hudspeth a long look. In four seasons there, Hudspeth is 36-16.
Still, let's assume Kentucky starts 1-0. That sets the stage for a trip to South Carolina to face Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks who (a) are coming off a down 7-6 season, and (b) are still smarting from last year's 45-38 loss to Kentucky at Commonwealth Stadium.
The Gamecocks have plenty of holes to fill. Just 43 lettermen return. Still, it's hard to see Spurrier losing to Kentucky in back-to-back years, much less losing to UK in Columbia. The smart bet says the Cats split their first two games.
Florida is up next in the first of a key two-game conference homestand. The Cats have lost 28 straight to the Gators. Those are the old Gators, however. This year's Gators are in rebuild mode under new coach Jim McElwain. They have no quarterback. It's early in the season. The game is at the newly renovated Commonwealth Stadium. If ever there was a year to snap the streak, it's this one.
Then Missouri comes to town. Gary Pinkel is the most underrated coach in America. His Tigers have back-to-back SEC East title rings. But Mizzou survived a lot of close calls last year, including a November 20-10 win over Kentucky in Columbia. Some of those bounces might start going the other way. Maybe UK's way?
An upset win and Kentucky is off to a rip-roaring 3-1 start with winnable dates with Eastern Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Charlotte among the remaining games. At that point, failing to attain bowl eligibility would bring severe disappointment.
Split the first four and the combination on the safe becomes harder to crack. The Cats would have to find a win somewhere among road games at Mississippi State and Georgia or home tilts against Auburn, Tennessee and Louisville. No easy ones there.
If the Cats start 1-3 — win the opener; lose the next three — bowl eligibility would look a bridge too far. That would require a 5-3 finish against competition that won't give up wins easily.
Ah, but this is summer, and summer is a time for sunny optimism. Not sure what the media mavens might think next week, but six Kentucky wins aren't just dream-able, they're do-able.
That's the story line of this Kentucky football season.