LEXINGTON - If you think Rich Brooks isn't serious about building a program, think again.
Although nothing is for certain in terms of his return for a fifth season, Brooks makes sure the players know he's still the man in charge and calls the shots.
Prior to Kentucky's 34-31 win over Mississippi State last week, receiver Dicky Lyons Jr. pulled off a Chad Johnson and guaranteed that the Wildcats would defeat the Bulldogs.
Although some would dispute Lyons' comments as a sign of confidence, Brooks didn't like the words uttered by his wide receiver.
"I don't think that shows confidence," Brooks said. "I think that it shows that you are not aware of respecting your opponent. I think you need to do things to respect your opponent leading up to a game."
Kentucky receiver Keenan Burton said the comments were typical of Lyons.
"That's his swagger," Burton said. "That's just Dicky being Dicky."
Brooks punished Lyons by making him run wind sprints in practice and held him off-limits to the media following his performance in the narrow win over the Bulldogs.
Brooks isn't sure if Lyons will learn from the mouthing mistake, but hopes it will teach the team the value of respect.
"That's part of the deal," he said.
Brooks is miles ahead of Lyons in terms of age and maturity and has a valid point.
"I'm old and I guess I'm more old-fashioned, but I believe that you respect your opponent," the Kentucky coach said.
That means that there's no line drawn in the sand for such comments made by Lyons.
"I don't think there's a fine line at all," he said. "I don't think there's any line. I think, you respect your opponent, you believe in your heart what you can do and your team believes in what they can do. You don't have to expound it to some media outlet so your opponent can put it on the bulletin board and get all fired up about the game. That's just me."
In addition, Brooks said the Bulldogs deserved more respect from Lyons.
"There is no bad football team in the SEC, I promise you," he said. "They all have good players and they all want to win, too."
Yes, Lyons backed up his comments with an impressive performance with eight catches for 117 yards and one touchdown, but the point that Brooks made during his press conference on Monday wasn't geared at condoning his actions.
"It (the comments) takes the attention off the team and puts it on an individual," Brooks said. "Football is the ultimate team sport. Would Dicky Lyons make all the catches if the offensive line isn't blocking, the quarterback isn't throwing, and the other guys aren't running the right routes and creating space for him? Hell, no, he can't. ... it's just not going to happen."
As for Lyons' performance, Brooks said the comments didn't start a spark.
"He's supposed to back it up," he said. "Everybody is supposed to go out and make plays. It's all part of the game."
At the end of his press conference on Monday, Brooks couldn't help but put in his final two cents worth on the subject.
"Here we are," he said. "We've got Georgia coming up and we beat Mississippi State on the road, and what are we talking about? I love it. What a great world we live in."
Yes, coach, it's a strange world.
Brooks shows who's in charge
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