Barnhart: Burning desire for football success

Life has been pretty nice for UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart lately. In the past year his athletic programs have gone to new heights to solidify UK as one of the top dogs in student-athletes success.

Barnhart saw his Women's Basketball Team record the most wins (22) in 16 years, including an upset of then #1 Tennessee as well as the first NCAA Tournament appearance in seven years. Men's golf finished with their best season in school history, taking fifth place at the NCAA Championships after 10 birdies and an eagle on the final nine holes of the tournament.

The baseball team, which was picked to finish last in the SEC, won their first ever conference championship, climbed as high as #4 in the rankings, and Coach Cohen was named national coach of the year. Add a national champion diver in Taryn Ignacio, and success is something Barnhart has been very familiar with recently. Yet the one sport that has not shown major signs of improvement is Rich Brooks's football team. Barnhart is determined to change that……

The Governor's Cup Luncheon was held Wednesday at the University Club in Lexington, which is held to kick off the start of practice and begin the countdown to the heated rivalry between UK and UofL. Both Rich Brooks and Bobby Petrino were on hand to answer questions, as well as both schools athletic directors in Barnhart and UofL AD Tom Jurich. Barnhart is well aware of how dominant UL looks on paper.

"Louisville's a 26-point favorite. They've got two Heisman Trophy candidates. Their AD just got inducted into the (Kentucky Athletic) Hall of Fame. Their coach just signed a 10-year extension," Barnhart told reporters Wednesday.

"We might as well not even show up."

For anyone who has ever competed in sports at any level, you can find the message that lies behind that statement. It's a slap in the face to be that big of an underdog to your rival. Barnhart is tired of the constant put down on the program, as well as the typical cracks towards the coach and the players that have run wild over the past three seasons. Has UK brought it upon themselves to cause this perception? Absolutely.

However, for Barnhart, it is getting pretty tiring hearing the same negative comments season after season. As well as Barnhart has done his job this past year, this task might go further than just a job, it just might become personal. There is no more time to waste, the time is now. Barnhart is determined as ever to change the dark cloud that hangs over the program, and I wouldn't be surprised if the football team breaks through and finally puts to rest the naysayers.

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