Taylor's Thoughts: Odds favor Brooks

There's hope for Rich Brooks this season. Based on past history, the future doesn't look bleak for the Kentucky football coach who is entering his fourth season this fall. Looking back on the past 50 years, four coaches in the modern era have been successful in their fourth season coaching football at the University of Kentucky.

Bear Bryant, Charlie Bradshaw, Fran Curci and Bill Curry notched winning records, with three of those coaches, including Curry, receiving a bowl bid following their third full year on the sidelines at Kentucky.

Although not successful in his first three years, Curry guided the Cats to the Peach Bowl in 1993 and broke even with a 6-6 record. Curry compiled an 11-22 mark in his first three seasons. Following his only winning campaign in Lexington, Curry won just nine games in his last three seasons as coach.

Bryant enjoyed a successful 9-3 record in his fourth season at Kentucky and earned a ticket to the Orange Bowl. Bryant, the school's all-time winningest coach on the gridiron, went 60-23-5, before moving on and eventually making his mark as an icon at the University of Alabama.

Bradshaw's 1965 Kentucky team went 6-4, but didn't compete in postseason play. Bradshaw went 25-41-4 in seven seasons.

Curci's 1976 outfit was the last Kentucky team to win the Southeastern Conference title and ended the season with a 9-3 mark, complete with a 21-0 win over North Carolina in the Peach Bowl. Curci won 47 games in his nine-year tenure at the school. Curci's 1977 team compiled a 10-1 record, but didn't compete in a bowl game because of NCAA sanctions that occurred the previous season.

John Ray, one of seven coaches since Bryant to last four seasons or more, went 3-8 in what turned out to be his final year on the sidelines in 1972. Ray's overall record was a paltry 10-33.

Jerry Claiborne ranks third behind Curci for third in career wins at Kentucky (41-46-3), but went 5-6 in his fourth season.

The Cats were 0-10-1 the first year under Claiborne, but compiled a 15-8-1 record over the next two years and played in the Hall of Fame Bowl. Hal Mumme was 18-17 after his first three years and took the Cats to a bowl game for two straight seasons, including the Outback Bowl in 1998. However, Mumme's record slipped to 2-9 in his final season as coach, which just happened to be his fourth season.

Guy Morriss won nine games in two years, including seven in his last year in Lexington. Morriss won just two games in his first official tour of duty as a head coach. Sometimes, history can be an indicator of things to come, which gives some hope for the future.

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