Sidelines with John Clay

How Kentucky football coaches have fared in season six

University of Kentucky head coach Rich Brooks did not win any popularity contests when he was introduced as new UK head man after the 2002 season. Yet Brooks left UK after the 2009 season with the Wildcats riding a streak of four-consecutive winning years.
University of Kentucky head coach Rich Brooks did not win any popularity contests when he was introduced as new UK head man after the 2002 season. Yet Brooks left UK after the 2009 season with the Wildcats riding a streak of four-consecutive winning years. Lexington Herald-Leader file photo

This being Mark Stoops’ sixth season as Kentucky football coach, here’s a look at how his predecessors did in their sixth year at UK. Or the ones who made it to their sixth year. Not every coach did.

Bear Bryant: The Bear went 8-4 in 1951, his sixth season in Lexington. The Cats finished the year by beating TCU 20-7 in the Cotton Bowl. That was their third consecutive New Year’s Bowl appearance and second consecutive win. The season before, Kentucky finished 11-1 with the 13-7 victory over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. After 1951, Bryant stayed at UK for just two more seasons, going 5-4-2 in 1952 and 7-2-1 in 1953 before leaving for Texas A&M. Bryant wound up 60-23-6 at Kentucky.

Blanton Collier: Kentucky finished 4-6 in 1959, Collier’s sixth of the eight seasons he was the UK coach. The Cats had gone 27-21-2 in his previous five years. They were 5-4-1 in 1958, but stumbled to a 1-5 start in ‘59. They did win three of their final four games. Collier would be the coach just two more seasons, going 5-4-1 in 1960 and 5-5 in 1961 before his contract was not renewed. With a 41-36-3 record, he remains the last UK coach to post a winning mark at the school. Collier coached the Cleveland Browns to an NFL title in 1964.

Charlie Bradshaw: “Hard Charles” went just 2-8 in 1967, the sixth of his seven season as Kentucky coach. The Cats were just 3-6-1 the year before. A former Bryant assistant, Bradshaw would be fired near the end of a 3-7 season in 1968. He was 25-41-4 overall as the Kentucky coach.

John Ray: The former Notre Dame defensive coordinator was fired after going 10-33 in four seasons.

Fran Curci: After the stellar 10-1 season of 1977, UK slipped to 4-6-1 in 1978, Curci’s sixth year in Lexington. The Cats a couple of heartbreakers at home, 17-16 to Georgia and 18-16 to Florida. The ‘78 campaign was the first of four consecutive losing seasons that, along with off-the-field problems, led to Curci’s firing in 1981. He was 47-51-2 as Kentucky coach.

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Jerry Claiborne: UK was 5-6 in 1987, Claiborne’s sixth season in Lexington after arriving from Maryland. The Cats started the year 4-1, but ended up just 1-5 in the SEC. Claiborne would coach just two more years at his alma mater. He went 5-6 in 1988 and 6-5 in 1989 before announcing his retirement. His overall record at UK was 41-46-3.

Bill Curry: After a disastrous 1-10 season in 1994, UK improved to 4-7 in 1995, Curry’s sixth season on the job. Moe Williams rushed for a school-record 1,600 yards as the Cats beat South Carolina and LSU for their two SEC victories. Curry’s reprieve was short-lived, however. He was fired after a 1-6 start in 1996. His overall UK record was 26-52.

Hal Mumme: The man behind the “Air Raid” offense was fired after his fourth season with UK in the midst of an NCAA investigation.

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Guy Morriss: A former Mumme assistant, Morris left for Baylor after going 9-14 in two seasons as the UK head coach.

Rich Brooks: UK beat East Carolina 25-19 in the Liberty Bowl to finish 7-6 in 2008, Brooks’ sixth and next-to-last season as the Kentucky coach. The Liberty Bowl was the third of four consecutive bowl trips for UK under Brooks. The former Oregon and St. Louis Rams head coach retired after going 7-6, with a third trip to the Music City Bowl, in 2009. His overall UK record: 39-47.

Joker Phillips: The former UK wide receiver was fired after going 13-24 over three seasons. His first team reached the BBVA Compass Bowl in 2010.

Starting with Bryant, the combined record of Kentucky coaches in year six is 34-43-1.

Kentucky football coaches records

CoachYearsWLTPct
Bear Bryant1946-53602350.710
Blanton Collier1954-61413630.531
Charlie Bradshaw1962-68254140.386
John Ray1969-72103300.233
Fran Curci1973-81475120.480
Jerry Claiborne1982-89414630.472
Bill Curry1990-96265200.333
Hal Mumme1997-00202600.435
Guy Morriss2001-0291400.391
Rich Brooks2003-09394700.453
Joker Phillips2010-12132400.351
Mark Stoops2013-17263600.419
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