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Rich Brooks rode off into the sunset following the 2009 season having orchestrated one of the most successful runs in Kentucky football history, with UK's appearance in the Music City Bowl marking its fourth straight bowl bid.

Brooks leaves Kentucky with a 39-47 overall record, placing fifth all-time for wins in school history.

But Brooks' impact goes far beyond numbers.

He took over a Kentucky program that had been ravaged by NCAA probation in 2003, and his first three years on the job were rocky.

But Brooks never wavered from his original blueprint and finally enjoyed a breakthrough 8-5 season in 2006.

Brooks also earns kudos for the manner in which he carried himself as the Kentucky coach.

In an era where access to coaches is limited, Brooks was usually accessible.

In a day where coaches spin half-truths like used car salesmen, Brooks was always a straight shooter. Brooks would be the first to tell you he would have liked to have accomplished more during his seven-year tenure at UK.

But when you consider that the program's last two successful stints were marred by NCAA probation, there's something to be said for doing it the right way.

And Rich Brooks did it the right way.

Chip Cosby