Now that Bahamas basketball is over and John Calipari's fantasy campers have crashed back to reality and the UK students have reclaimed campus, we can get down to the important seasonal business at hand and start ourselves a football season.
For Kentucky football, this is a typical season with the typical Kentucky football conundrum. Where UK basketball enters its season attempting to prove people right, Kentucky football enters its campaign hoping to prove people wrong.
And yet the start of any sports season brings with it high hopes of the wildly improbable regarding an endeavor that continues to be highly entertaining.
Here in the Bluegrass, the construction around Commonwealth Stadium is an appropriate metaphor for what's going on with Big Blue football in Coach Mark Stoops' second season.
It is true that the days of UK football fans loyally attending games have lost out not to Tennessee and Georgia, but to high-definition screens showing a never-ending succession of Saturday spectaculars. A corporate suite is one thing. A comfy den chair to watch Clemson-Georgia is another quite less expensive thing.
Even the UK front office is hedging its bets, forcing its 2014 season ticket holders to begin renewing in October if they want 2015 seats in the shiny, renovated Commonwealth Stadium, which promises to be decorated with actual barn wood. Waiting until December, or even November, on ticket commitments would be a risky proposition given the possible final number under the win column.
Turning the coin, we should not forget the innate optimism of the sports fan, who wants to be (a) entertained, (b) engaged and (c) excited by something he or she has never seen before.
When the curtain lifts, anything is possible. Even with all of Steve Spurrier's success at Florida, the Gators had never had a Tim Tebow. We thought we'd never see another one like Johnny Manziel, until we did Thursday night in another Aggies quarterback named Kenny Hill. Auburn did not win an SEC game in 2012, yet played for the national title in 2013. Surprises happen.
While the opponent is bakery variety Tennessee-Martin, noon Saturday should provide us with some hints of possible surprises in Kentucky's future.
All eyes will be on Patrick Towles, the oak tree of a redshirt sophomore with some impressive genes who won the fall camp quarterback competition. Towles' grandfather is former Kentucky senator Jim Bunning, who was a Hall of Fame pitcher before entering the congressional clubhouse.
Relegated to redshirt duty last season, Towles could have transferred, but he is a Kentucky kid, and that is not what Kentucky kids do.
"(My family) all went to the Mississippi State game last year (in Starkville), and I wasn't even playing," Towles said, and nothing more need be said.
All eyes will be on Alvin "Bud" Dupree, the senior defensive end/linebacker/cyborg who is the team's best player. Monday of game week, Stoops admonished himself for not throwing more bouquets in Bud's direction. Stoops said he will be "shocked" if Dupree is not a first-rounder in the next NFL Draft.
That Stoops needs more Bud Duprees brings the usual fear factor to Kentucky football fans. Multiple bruises, annually accumulated, have much to do with that. A low ceiling looms.
The are exceptions to every rule, however.
Often told around these parts is the object lesson of 1977. Kentucky had just lost to Baylor 21-6 in Waco to go 1-1 on the year. Rod Stewart, the team's best running back, had torn his ACL in the loss. Fran Curci's team had gone 2-8-1 two seasons before. While waiting outside the locker room after the game, the Kentucky media corps agreed the Cats wouldn't win another game all season.
Instead, they did not lose another game.
No one is predicting such a pipe dream for 2014. It is retold simply as an illustration that all seasons may be different, but all seasons begin with the same hope for just a little bit of unexpected magic.