UK Football

Mark Story: Kentucky, Duke and Indiana are together on a list you don't want to be on

UK wide receiver La'Rod King, left, had a 2012 pass broken up by Vanderbilt defensive back Andre Hal at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington. Photo by Jonathan Palmer
UK wide receiver La'Rod King, left, had a 2012 pass broken up by Vanderbilt defensive back Andre Hal at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington. Photo by Jonathan Palmer Herald-Leader

Quick hitters from Freddy Farm Bureau's hay bale:

21. A dubious Kentucky football fact. The last time Kentucky won as many as nine games in a football season was 1984 when Jerry Claiborne's Hall of Fame Bowl champions went 9-3.

20. No nine-win seasons since 1985. In the five major football conferences — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC — there are only two schools besides Kentucky that have not won as many as nine games in any year since '85.

19. Indiana and Duke. The Hoosiers last had a nine-win year in 1967; for the Blue Devils, it was 1941.

18. Vanderbilt. Vandy got off the list last season after the Commodores went 9-4. Before that, Vanderbilt had not won nine times in a season since 1915.

17. No benefit at the turnstiles. Vanderbilt's success does not appear to have captivated Nashville sports fans. According to a story in The Tennessean, as of last week Vandy had sold 2,300 fewer season tickets this year than it did in 2012.

16. James Franklin. The Vandy coach all but called out sports fans in Nashville over their lack of support for VU football. "I think the excuses are over and it's time for us to get out and support our team," he told The Tennessean.

15. Small fan base. There were off-the-field issues this summer that may have dampened public enthusiasm for Vandy football. Long term, the issue Vanderbilt faces in building a football following is that sports fans in Nashville who are not Vandy alumni have never seemed to feel any particular allegiance to VU's sports teams.

14. The Paul Finebaum Show. The SEC football-oriented, late-afternoon talk show has moved to the ESPN Radio Network and will be available in Lexington on a tape-delayed basis starting this week. According to Chris Cross, program manager at local ESPN affiliate WLXG, the Finebaum show will be broadcast here from 7-11 p.m.

13. Brandon Dunn. The Louisville Cardinals senior defensive tackle, a PRP graduate, was the subject of an intense recruiting battle between Kentucky and U of L. He originally committed to UK and Joker Phillips but ultimately signed with the Cards once Charlie Strong offered a scholarship.

12. A fan's loyalty. "I was already a Louisville fan," Dunn explained. "My Dad is a big Louisville fan. As soon as I told him I had a (U of L) scholarship offer, he looked at me and was like, 'Are you going to commit?' It was a no-brainer."

11. See Drew Barker. If you hope to catch a game this season of the four-star UK quarterback commit from Conner High School, you better be prepared to travel. Other than a trip to suburban Louisville to face South Oldham (Sept. 13), Conner will not otherwise leave Northern Kentucky.

10. Most attractive game to see Barker. Conner will be at perennial Northern Kentucky power Covington Catholic on Nov. 2.

9. See Matt Elam. If you want to see John Hardin's 6-foot-6, 325-pound defensive tackle — who holds scholarship offers from Alabama, Tennessee, Notre Dame and Ohio State, plus UK and Louisville — you will have to travel to either Jefferson County or Hardin County. Elam's Bulldogs will play five games in each county.

8. Most attractive game to see Elam. It's on Sept. 14, when Kentucky high school football titan Highlands visits John Hardin.

7. See Elijah Sindelar. The whispers are that the junior-to-be quarterback at Caldwell County is potentially the best QB prospect to come out of the commonwealth since Tim Couch. For fans outside Western Kentucky, the one regular-season chance to see the 6-4 quarterback is Oct. 4, when Caldwell visits Green County.

6. Most attractive game to see Sindelar. On Nov. 1, Caldwell County will face traditional Western Kentucky powerhouse Mayfield.

5. Mr. Yahtzee. New Kentucky wide receivers coach Tommy Mainord says he had no idea he was launching a social-media sensation the first time he tweeted 'Yahtzee!' in response to good UK recruiting news.

4. No forethought. "We had a good day at the office one day and I was excited," Mainord said. "I just yelled out 'Yahtzee!' Then I hash-tagged it (on Twitter). There wasn't any pre-thought. It just kind of happened."

3. Amazed by the craze. Now, there are even "Yahtzee!" T-shirts. "I'm more amazed about it than anybody else that it's taken off like it has," Mainord said. "I've just been shocked."

2. The key question. I asked Mainord if he in fact owns a Yahtzee game.

1. The key answer. "We do, we own the game," Mainord said. "But I've been pretty busy around here. We haven't played much 'Yahtzee' around the house lately."