In a crowded room below the construction zone that continues to be Commonwealth "We're Hammering As Fast As We Can" Stadium, Kentucky football convened for another Media Day on Friday morning.
Apologies if you've heard this before. The Cats are excited. The Cats are optimistic. The Cats can't wait to get back on the field. (Forgive us cynical sportswriters if, when our heads hit the pillow at night, we dream of the coach who says he is pessimistic about the coming campaign. Just for the change of pace.)
Then again, there are reasons for Kentucky football to be optimistic. The win total climbed from two in 2013 to five in 2014. This is the third year of the Mark Stoops era. According to the recruiting gurus, Stoops and his staff have incrementally improved the roster's talent level.
So it would make sense to assume that the goal for this 2015 Kentucky football team is to win six games, thereby qualifying for the school's first bowl appearance since 2010.
Never miss a local story.
"I'm not looking for a number," UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said when asked Friday for the parameters of a successful season.
OK, but shouldn't Kentucky fans expect a bowl game?
"It's not imperative," said Barnhart, who admitted a postseason trip was a "logical step" when plotting the growth chart.
That's the thing about Media Days. When it comes to optimism, quantifying is always bad. Safety nets are always good.
As for Stoops, he's been asked to pontificate on this subject for most of the summer. There was the Governor's Cup Luncheon. And SEC Media Days. And the UK Kickoff Luncheon. And the Jefferson County UK Alumni Luncheon. By the time we got to Friday, no one really had the nerve to ask the coach whether he thinks the season will be a colossal disappointment if the team doesn't win six games.
So we asked the players.
"We want to win every game we play," said junior quarterback Patrick Towles with a matter-of-factness you want from your quarterback. "We're not shooting for six. We're shooting to win every game."
Somewhere, Herm "You Play To Win The Game" Edwards is nodding. But wouldn't Towles admit that expectations are higher this year?
"Maybe for you-all, but not necessarily for us," Towles said. "Our expectations are to get to Atlanta, and we think we can do that."
Wise old senior Jordan Swindle, starting offensive tackle, said pretty much the same thing. The bowl as a goal sets a low bar.
"Our goal for the year is to get to a bowl game," Swindle said. "And win the SEC championship."
"We're aiming high," junior running back Jojo Kemp said.
Reach for the stars, but keep your feet on the ground. Since league expansion brought a football championship game in 1992, Kentucky is one of four teams that has never played for the title. (Trivia answer: Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt are the other three.) And no one is expecting to see the Cats in the Georgia Dome this December, either.
It takes baby steps, after all. The Cats are not as good as their 5-1 start suggested last year, but neither are they as bad as they often looked in the six-game losing streak that followed.
Stoops lost his two best players in NFL draftees Bud Dupree and Za'Darius Smith, both defensive ends. On the flip side, he also boasts more overall talent and size than he has had since arriving from Florida State after the 2012 season.
Stoops made a shrewd hire in luring Shannon Dawson away from West Virginia. He's entertaining. Better still, staff members have been amazed by the silky smoothness of the transition.
OK, clock's ticking. Practice is about to start. So we'll ask our main question one more time.
Won't this season be a disappointment if the Cats don't go bowling?
"I wouldn't say it'll be a disappointment," sophomore nose guard Matt Elam said. "But we're in hopes we're going to get there."
That's a good starting point.