This year, the Cats began to "Believe in Blue" after an early season upset of rival Louisville. When Cardinals wide receiver Harry Douglas was tackled at the 5-yard-line to end the game, a sea of fans flooded the field. Shocked Louisville supporters headed for the exits. The victory over the Cardinals was perhaps the sweetest and most-celebrated win -- until the dethroning of then top ranked LSU (now commonly referred to on campus as L-S-Who?). Again, fans rushed the field and joined the team in celebrating. This time it was to savor the Wildcats' first victory over a No. 1 team since 1964.
The wins and celebrations haven't come for free, however. The university was fined $50,000 after breaking SEC rules that prohibit fans from rushing the field after a game. This fine comes after UK has already paid $30,000 to the SEC for similar violations. It's a small price to pay for watching Kentucky stand toe-to-toe on the gridiron with SEC powerhouses.
This year, a record 6,000 students purchased season football tickets at UK, selling out the allotment of student seats at Commonwealth Stadium, and the annual student buzzing about preseason basketball has taken a backseat to all of the hype surrounding the football team. Indeed, the excitement was apparent at Big Blue Madness, the hoops team's first practice. Mid-ceremony, football head coach, Rich Brooks, was introduced to a standing ovation.
Even the national media has jumped on the "Believe" bandwagon. Prior to last weekend's Florida game, ESPN's College GameDay was broadcast from campus for the first time in history. "Coming to Lexington was neat because it's obvious how important football is here, now that the team is winning," said Chris Folwer, host of GameDay. "It's a unique feature."
More than 11,000 fans showed up to welcome ESPN to campus. And with a backdrop of the William T. Young Library and a giant "UK" logo painted on the lawn, the bowl played host to an unprecedented campus atmosphere that rivaled that of a traditional football school. "It's been one of the best [atmospheres], with plenty of enthusiastic fans and good school spirit," said former Heisman Trophy winner and current GameDay personality Desmond Howard.
That spirit has never been higher, and things have never looks so promising. After eight games, the Cats have already racked up six wins, securing bowl eligibility, but they have plenty left to play for. Sylvester Croom brings his Mississippi State team Saturday for Homecoming. In front of thousands of UK students and alums, the Cats will continue to focus on their season-long goal: making it to the SEC Championship game in Cat-lanta.
Who said Kentucky was a basketball school anyway?