DEMAREE: Brooks' obstacle course to the top

Rich Brooks has had to overcome numerous obstacles as he has moved Kentucky from a scholarship-reduced, probation riddled, two-win team to a team competing for its fourth consecutive bowl victory season.

It's obvious charity begins at home. On 2009 media day, as Brooks took the podium, he said – "I have arrived," Brooks facetiously quipped. "They put your Coke on ice – I never had it on ice before. (Referring to media relations)"

Global warming is debatable but Rich Brooks warming is evident on several fronts. The Wildcat Den bursting at the seams on media day. Former icebergs (disgruntled fans) melting and now asking questions about the program. One fan showing up at practice who said he hadn't been to practice since the Mumme era.

As his team has gotten better we hear more and more comical quips coming from the coach. He is downright funny at time but still a straight up guy. To statements and or questions spouts replies such as "you don't say…oh you noticed heh, heh …….we got more than two sentences out of Trevard (Lindley) at the SEC media days…What do you think Lonny? Of course my response was ‘I don't know coach, you are making million dollars, what do you think, but put me a little stipend in the mail and I will give you my opinion. All of these types of exchanges and quips draw laughter from the media.

Brooks usually starts his presser with an injury report and this time there was none, which prompted and inquiry from a Lexington radio personality. "There is none but you (name omitted) need to lose a little weight."

At the SEC Football Media Days in Birmingham, Alabama, Brooks was the last of the four schools up on the first of three days. Upon taking the podium in the humongous media workroom Brooks said – "I'll bet you are glad this day is over. I'll be the last. That's where we get picked every year, so kind of appropriate, I guess (laughter). Then after a statement and a twenty-minute question and answer session, upon leaving he quipped – "Thanks a lot. Been a pleasure. You guys can go have a coctail, a cold beer, talk about where you're going to put Kentucky again (smiling). There you go have some fun with it. I'm having fun trying to prove you wrong on occasion."

On UK media days Brooks was asked where did he think his team was in the league race? "Hah, hah, hah," he chuckled. "We will have to go to a fourth straight bowl. It's extremely important to get to post season. The first bowl win over Clemson didn't have an impact on recruiting. - McClatchy news service said Clemson should disband their program if they lose to Kentucky. You got more exposure and all this last class shows that three bowl wins has a significant impact recruiting. That isn't what we want to accomplish. We want to accomplish something a lot higher and be a factor in the race. There's no question we are going to have an early opportunity in Commonwealth Stadium, to be a factor in the race."

Brooks said he has no concerns about the leadership on this team. He described leadership, as, it's there not only when things are going good but when things are going bad. He said as the kids understand how to get things done; leadership spills over from class to class.

On the fact that Danny Travathan flew under the radar, one writer after stating he was only a 2-star guy ask Brooks to talk about him. "Really, he wasn't was he," Brooks facetiously sarcastically stated.

Brooks stated some reasons why he thinks this is going to be a markedly better team. 1) The big time effect of opening the season in a Pro football stadium, the Bengal's Paul Brown Stadium; 2) Recruiting a 6-foot-6 receiver like Chris Matthews; 3) Losing a Jeremy Jarmon yet having bodies, in his words, that have speed, strength, and explosion to fill his spot; 4) "Offensively we had lost all of it's offensive production from 2007and this year we return 80 percent of it and we added some pieces to the puzzle. Hartline is going to be a much better quarterback than a year ago – he will be able to do more and hava better grasp of things;" 5) of his 2009 recruiting class, he said, "They look pretty good on the hoof and now we've just got to see what they can do on the field."

2) Lastly the talent of the two incoming quarterbacks are, with the exception of Tim Couch, higher rated nationally. USA Today had two top ten groups of national quarterbacks – drop-back and all-purpose quarterbacks -and UK had a quarterback in each group.

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