Mark Story

Fans voice strong opinions on how UK football can create a defining symbol

Kentucky fans have myriad suggestions on how the UK football program can develop some defining, gameday traditions.
Kentucky fans have myriad suggestions on how the UK football program can develop some defining, gameday traditions.

In my most recent prior Sunday column, I asked Kentucky Wildcats football fans to respond to two questions:

1.) Does UK football have a defining, game-day symbol of the ilk of Ohio State’s “dotting the i,” Florida’s “Gator chomp” or Arkansas’s “Calling the Hogs?”

2.) If not, do you have an idea for how Kentucky could develop such a football tradition?

Via Twitter, Facebook, email and old-fashioned phone calling, Kentucky fans responded in a big way.

Those responses essentially fell into the following three categories.

Gallows humor

Given the star-crossed nature of Kentucky football history, one would expect the search for a defining game-day symbol of the Wildcats program to bring out some snark.

Phil Holloway of Versailles said via the phone that a “picture of a broken heart” would best represent the essence of UK football.

With the sting still fresh from last season’s crushing 28-27 loss to Florida — when UK surrendered two touchdowns to undefended Gators wideouts — Jim Carpenter suggested on Twitter that “uncovered wide receivers” are the new symbol of Wildcats football.

Cincinnati’s Steve Mott used Twitter to suggest that the defining emblem of Wildcats football is “a hand to the forehead, the look of utter disbelief, the indistinguishable groan of the long-suffering fan. Went to one game last year, Florida, and this is what I observed.”

On Facebook, Steve Goodrum suggested “after the Florida game last year, a bronze statue of the ‘lonely end.’”

Hopefully that was cathartic and/or amusing. And now we move on.

Already have a tradition

A sizable minority of respondents to the original column believe Kentucky football already has a defining, game-day ritual.

Most just can’t agree on what it is.

Via Twitter, Sue Warren mentioned the traditional pregame performance by the UK band of “My Old Kentucky Home.”

Brandon Harper voted for Kroger Field public address announcer Carl Nathe’s enthusiastic call of “First Down, Kentucky!” every time the Wildcats move the chains.

UK softball coach Rachel Lawson said it is the crowd-response cheer “C-A-T-S, Cats, Cats, Cats!”

On Facebook, Louisville’s Dale Padgett voted for the tradition of the Wildcat mascot doing a push-up for each point Kentucky has on the scoreboard following every Cats’ score.

Mentioned most often was the pregame performance at Kroger Field by a bugler of the “Call to the Post,” the musical notes which represent the start of the next race in Thoroughbred horse racing.

“For me, every pregame, I look forward to the ‘Call to the Post,’” wrote Shawn Sullivan of Brentwood, Tenn., via email. “It is very unique to Kentucky and it should be even more pronounced in the UK pregame ritual.”

UK needs more

The majority of respondents felt that Kentucky football does not yet have a defining, game-day symbol.

Via email, Cynthiana’s Gary Dearborn suggested taking the tune of Montgomery Gentry’s country anthem “My Town” and writing new lyrics specific to UK football.

Noting the famous “Hook’em Horns” fingers gesture synonymous with Texas Longhorns athletics, emailer Gary Wahl suggests Kentucky start a “Claw’em Cats” hand movement.

The second most popular suggestion for creating a defining symbol of the Kentucky football experience was a throwback to the past. Several expressed a desire to see the UK marching band bring back the “marching K” formation while playing “On, On U of K” as it was done in decades prior.

UK marching band at football game.JPG
Members of the Kentucky Marching Band participated in the Cat Walk last season at Kroger Field before UK beat Eastern Kentucky 27-16. Alex Slitz

In an email, Frankfort’s Robert Cox writes “I have a personal memory of attending a game with a (UK) alum who was excited to tell a first timer ‘just wait until you see the marching K.’”

The most popular suggestion among those who believe Wildcats football does not presently have a defining, game-day symbol was to expand on the pregame “Call to the Post.” They envisioned UK doing even more to emphasize the ties the state of Kentucky has to the Thoroughbred horse racing industry.

Kentucky football (and men’s basketball uniforms) in recent years have featured blue and white checkerboard patterns around the shoulders. The design is an homage to the racing silks of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat.

The blue and white checkerboard featured in recent years in the Kentucky Wildcats football and men’s basketball uniforms is intended as an homage to the Meadow Stable racing silks of the great Secretariat, shown winning the 1973 Kentucky Derby. E. Martin Jessee Lexington Herald-Leader file photo

As a result, several fans suggested having a Thoroughbred horse lead the UK team on the field before games with a jockey wearing the famous Meadow Stable colors of Secretariat.

Tweeted Jeff Mackey: “I think having retired, local racehorse greats and a guest jockey in blue and white silks ride around the stadium in pregame would be cool.”

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230; Twitter: @markcstory