John Clay

Boo to you, spoiled UK fans

What is wrong with you people?

Apparently, you are spoiled when you have no right to be spoiled.

Apparently, you think you know better when you don't know better.

Apparently, sitting through two years of watching entertaining and winning football has made you experts on exactly what is required for entertaining and winning football.

Have you forgotten who brought you, the long-suffering Kentucky football fans, this brand of football in the first place?

Apparently you have forgotten, because twice now in the past week you have managed to burrow your suddenly spoiled selves under Rich Brooks' normally tough skin.

First, you did it on Brooks' call-in show on Labor Day night, ignoring UK's 27-2 win over archrival Louisville and harping on the Cats' lack of offensive firepower that day. Then Saturday night at Commonwealth Stadium, you did it again, voicing your displeasure in a way that hit the UK coach directly in the solar plexus.

"It made me sick to my stomach," said Brooks.

"It" being the booing that accompanied sophomore Mike Hartline's return to the field to quarterback the UK offense. The poor babies in the crowd wanted to see more of true freshman Randall Cobb, who had directed the Cats to three first-half touchdowns. So, the whiners let their lungs go.

Never mind that Hartline worked his rear end off all summer, won the starting job during fall practice and managed the offense in winning fashion the week before at Louisville. Never mind that UK was actually leading 21-3 at the time of the classless display, and at night's end, is 2-0.

"The fans weren't booing Hartline," a reader posted to the comments section of my blog after the game. "They were booing the coach for making a poor decision."

Wouldn't that be the same coach, and coaches, who fashioned back-to-back 8-5 records and consecutive bowl victories?

The same coach who is 2-0 since then, by the way.

This isn't the Bill Curry Era of third-and-long draw plays and quizzical personnel moves. Yes, Curry made a major deal of the fans booing poor Pookie Jones when the quarterback kept getting sent out to run the offense on a particularly ineffectual day. But at that time, UK football fans were in an abusive relationship. You could understand the frustration.

Nor is this the case of fans booing a team for a poor performance when it's not playing up to its capabilities. That stings but gets the point across. I've heard Brooks concur with such displays of public discontent.

No, the bad apples who spoiled Saturday night's bunch are just spoiled whiners — the kind we're seeing too much of these days.

They paid their money, they've got the right, or so they think, to boo a 20-year-old college student, who by the way is taking a full class load, has never been in trouble and whose parents are probably sitting close by.

(Go to a high school game sometime, and you'll hear the same crassness. Heck, you'll hear a player's parents yelling at other parents' kids.)

No one is saying coaches are immune from criticism — that's what we columnists are for. And if it's the professional players, OK, fine. They're big boys making big bucks, they can take it. College kids are big boys, too. Mike Hartline can take it.

But he shouldn't have to take it.

Neither should Rich Brooks.

What's wrong with you people, anyway?

Haven't you noticed? Your team is winning.

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