Those against Brooks will say we haven't seen improvement. Those who are for him will point out the probation, schollarship numbers, etc.
Both of these arguements are valid, but I am not sure many folks agree with the other side. What can be agreed is that things will probably start to improve in 2005. But will they improve enough to pacify those who want Brooks gone? If Brooks can't start to show signs that UK is improving, I don't think you will find anyone who will stand in Mitch Barnhart's way.
Make no mistake, 2005 is make of break for Brooks.
In the winter of 2002 Barnhart had a tough December. Guy Morriss left and Barnhart had to find a new coach. Having just guaranteed Morriss's contract 2 months prior, I belive Barnhart was caught off-guard by Morriss's flirtation, then acceptance, with Baylor.
Barnhart reportedly offered the job to some heavy hitters, they declined. He then went after some up and comers ... they aren't here either.
He did find an old guy out west with a fire in his belly that few in Kentucky were familiar with. Brooks said the right things and put together a staff deep in experience. He did the right things, but he isn't the kind of coach many UK fans were expecting.
Lets be honest, Coach Brooks, for whatever reason, has not over-achieved. There are many reasons why UK is in bad shape. Probabtion and coaching changes always set a program back. The question is who can bring UK out of it's funk? What does Kentucky need to do to put the program where the fans want it?
Kentucky needs a coach who will work his butt off to get the job done. A coach who knows football, with a staff deep in talent and experience. A mix of old guys, a mix of young guys, with good communication between everyone. The staff will have to own the state recruiting wise, they will have to out-evaluate the other schools in the SEC. They will have to sell UK harder than the other schools that will tear it down. UK needs a stubborn man with a chip on his shoulders. UK needs Rich Brooks to revive it's dormant football program.
Maybe he is a little to blunt. I don't doubt that he knows that coaching can be as much political as it can skill. He has said what is on his mind. Some people really like that, some people don't want to hear it. One thing is for sure, he doesn't like being second guessed by fans. He knows you have to be able to run the ball in order to win. Some fans seem to want to be entertained, I don't doubt that Brooks is here to win. He knows what he is doing.
As the season came to a close there was some improvement. The offense that had struggled under Hudson looked alive and well under Phillips. Since naming Phillips as his OC, UK has picked up the pace on the recruiting trail. Another impressive class of quality players will help Brooks in the eyes of the fans. I don't doubt that it is too late for a portion of the fan base, some have already made up their minds. I say give him a fair chance. If this staff can recruit like this with one hand behind their back, I look forward to what they can do should they start winning.