TIREY: Things could have been different

The patience level is the lowest it has ever been, and shows no signs of reversing itself. With that said, a lot of UK football fans have wondered just who Mitch Barnhart looked at to fill the head coaching position when Guy Morriss left it vacated after the 2002 season.

One tends to think that this year is a do-or-die situation for Rich Brooks to get things turned around with the University of Kentucky football program. Especially now that college football fans have a microwave mentality and a get-it-now attitude, that has changed the timeline for a coach to succeed to about three years. The patience level is the lowest it has ever been, and shows no signs of reversing itself. With that said, a lot of UK football fans have wondered just who Mitch Barnhart looked at to fill the head coaching position when Guy Morriss left it vacated after the 2002 season. Before Barnhart settled on Rich Brooks to lead the Cats, he was actively searching for guys with big names to lead the program through the probation years. Those that think that Barnhart wasn't trying to find the best coach he could, are sadly mistaken. Wonder what UK football would been like with…

…Bill Parcells as head coach? The moody, reticent, curmudgeon of a coach would have definitely brought a discipline to the program right away. But, when you think about it, hasn't Coach Brooks brought the same type of discipline? Anyway, Parcells was so close to taking the UK job, he was actually in the airport, ready to take a plane to Lexington and finish the deal. That's when the fateful call came from Jerry Jones. Many fans say, "Aw, he was never serious about coaching Kentucky. He just used them for leverage." Not true, according to sources. Parcells was so serious about being the head man for the Cats, that he already had someone searching for a house in the Lexington area. But the most obvious indicator of all? He already had a staff in place. So would things be different with Parcells as coach? I would probably concede only this point. Recruiting may have been affected. What high school senior in his right mind, wouldn't want to play for Coach Bill Parcells, with that Super Bowl ring shining so brightly in their living room? Oh, and one other thing. Ron Hudson would never have been the offensive coordinator at Kentucky. Wonder what UK football would have been like with…

…David Cutcliffe as the head coach? It was closer to happening than you might think. Barnhart and Cutcliffe had preliminary meetings and things went well. If not for the involvement of Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone, Cutcliffe would be here now. You see, Boone and Cutcliffe were not getting along well. They had pretty much had enough of each other, even in 2002 (amazing how Cutcliffe was able to stay until last year, isn't it?). With preliminary conversations going well between Barnhart and Cutcliffe, Boone got wind of what was happening. He gave his head coach an ultimatum. Stay, and go out on my terms, or take the job this very instant. Not a fair decision to make. Even worse, Boone gave Cutcliffe only a half an hour to make up his mind. When Cutcliffe told Barnhart of the choice he had to make, Barnhart had not even told his boss, Dr. Lee Todd, enough information at that point to make a final decision. And Todd was not available. So Cutcliffe had to turn down any possible deal that would have been made. Oh, yeah, all of this took place during the span of the Indiana-Kentucky basketball game that year in Freedom Hall. Boone makes Bill Parcells look like Santa Claus. I tend to think that the wide open passing game that UK fans tend to love so much, would have been more prominent under Cutcliffe at UK. One thing is for sure…Ron Hudson would never have been offensive coordinator at Kentucky. Wonder what UK football would have been like with…

Norm Chow as head coach of the Wildcats? Was it close to happening? Unbelievably so. Norm Chow has said publicly that he took his name out of the running for the job. That's a great way to save face, and I guess technically true. But not before he had actually accepted the position in the first place. Chow told Barnhart, via telephone, that he would indeed take the job, and would finalize things the next morning. The next morning came, and with it, the bad news. Chow had been excited to tell his family that night, only to learn that a family member had a situation arise that would prevent Chow from leaving USC, and especially the area. Chow had to stay put to be close for the family member. So in the span of probably twelve hours, UK had, and then lost, arguably the greatest assistant coach the college game has ever seen for their head guy. What would the Wildcats have been like under the direction of Chow? As exciting as Cutcliffe, probably more. And recruiting would have been affected the same way as with Parcells. Chow has connections in places cockroaches can't reach. But one thing is for certain, Ron Hudson would never have been offensive coordinator at Kentucky.

So think of the many different ways Kentucky football could have headed under the different head men. Then again, it was a program under severe penalties from the NCAA. So severe, a lesser program probably would not have survived. But Rich Brooks was charged with turning things around with the Kentucky football program. And in all honesty, the comparisons really should not start until this year. When the sanctions are not in place, and everything is a level playing field. And oh yeah…Ron Hudson is not the offensive coordinator at Kentucky.


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