Jen Smith on UK Football

Should UK fans be worried about Nick Haynes’ tweet?

Nick Haynes received a hug from Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops during Senior Day activities before Saturday’s game against Louisville at Kroger Field.
Nick Haynes received a hug from Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops during Senior Day activities before Saturday’s game against Louisville at Kroger Field. aslitz@herald-leader.com

Senior Day is usually filled with tears and cherished memories.

But this Senior Day had a different kind of drama when offensive lineman Nick Haynes tweeted out the night before he was to be honored with 25 other players at Kroger Field on Saturday his disdain for the Cats’ coaching staff.

In a tweet that went out at 10:51 p.m. on Friday, the offensive lineman said: “Most of these coaches don’t care about us personally. It’s all about that check. That’s the one big thing I’ve discovered here at UK. They’ll use you up for all your worth and then throw you to the side.”

Haynes took the tweet down shortly thereafter. The Cats take on rival Louisville at Kroger Field at noon.

The senior from Niceville, Fla., has been having a public battle with diabetes, and the subsequent weight loss kept the senior on the sidelines from the Cats’ off week Oct. 14 until he returned to the field for a couple of special team snaps last week.

Haynes participated in the Cat Walk on Saturday morning before the Louisville game as usual. A team spokesman said beyond that, it wasn’t clear what — if any — consequences there would be for the tweet.

The UK football team during the Cat Walk prior to the rivalry match up against University of Louisville.

Haynes, who started six games early this season and 25 games before that, is on the front of the Cats’ media guide this season and has been a team captain along with quarterback Stephen Johnson, defensive back Mike Edwards and linebacker Courtney Love before each game.

On Monday, when asked about having Haynes as a team captain despite not playing, Coach Mark Stoops said: “He just deserves that. I think that’s who he is. He’s done a lot for this program. He’s sacrificed a lot, and he’s not at 100 percent health, but he’s still a very good leader and a captain.”

Why you should worry

• Kentucky’s charismatic offensive lineman is a team leader and like a second coach for that position group specifically, with many of the underclassmen regularly referring to him as the glue on the team.

• On the day of the Cats’ biggest rivalry game and its most poignant day (Senior Day) the tweet could serve as a distraction. It was likely sent from the team hotel where all of the players and coaches stay together before the game the next day.

• Before the tweet was removed, several current players liked it on the social media platform and several former players also joined in. Does that indicate a more significant internal problem?

Kentucky offensive guard Nick Haynes talks about dealing with his diabetes while being a starter on the team's offensive line.

• Haynes’ social media post is one of several that have caught fans’ attention this season, including freshman wide receiver Lynn Bowden posting about not getting targeted in the opener and a few weeks later, another wide receiver, Blake Bone, going on SnapChat to discuss how UK should throw the ball more. “We want it to stay in house,” Stoops said of the social media outbursts at the time. “We’ll get it corrected. Very easy fix. We had a discussion yesterday. We’ll talk about it as a team today and it’ll be gone.”

• The most obvious concern is recruiting. With the new early signing period coming in less than a month, it’s not a good look for a departing senior to take such a brutal shot at the coaching staff. Will it make future Cats pause before signing on Dec. 20?

Why you shouldn’t worry

• Haynes has appeared in only one game in the past month and probably will not have much bearing on what happens on the field against Louisville.

• Haynes already is a graduate and probably won’t be with the team beyond the bowl game.

• Players at almost every level of sports go on social media to air grievances. It’s not necessarily a program-changing event.

• Nearly every member of the coaching staff has been given a raise and extension in the last year and it seems unlikely that any of them will be worrying much about the ill-fated tweet beyond this weekend.

• After reading the initial posting of this article, Nick Haynes’ mother, Dede, tweeted that Saturday is all about the Governor’s Cup.

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