Cats believe, then produce

After falling one win shy of the BCS Championship Game in 2001, Tennessee's football players adopted the theme "Unfinished business" for 2002. The move backfired, as the Vols limped home 8-5.

Kentucky coach Rick Brooks feared a similar fate might befall his team one year ago. The 2006 Wildcats adopted a "We believe" theme in preseason and even filmed a video version of the message to be played prior to their home games.

"Marcus McClinton, Wesley Woodyard and Keenan Burton last year did a little video, 'We believe,'" Brooks recalled. "I was a little skeptical, a little worried. I told them if things didn't go well they could be ridiculed and criticized for it."

Safety McClinton, linebacker Woodyard and receiver Burton were not swayed by the coach's caution, however. Even after Kentucky lost its 2006 opener 59-28 at Louisville, the trio insisted that "We believe" be played before the home opener.

"They stuck with their guns," Brooks recalled. "They said they were comfortable with it and they'd go out and back it up."

They did just that. Kentucky routed Texas State 41-7 in its first home game, trounced Ole Miss 31-14 in its second and bested Central Michigan 45-36 in its third. After losing 24-17 to South Carolina at Commonwealth Stadium, the Cats closed the Lexington portion of their schedule with three more victories. They stunned Georgia 24-20, dumped Vanderbilt 38-26, then outlasted Louisiana-Monroe 42-40 to finish off a 6-1 home season.

"We won six of our seven home games," Brooks noted. "They proved to be prophets, if you will."

Kentucky's fans adopted the "We believe" motto, as well. Thousands followed the Wildcats to Nashville for the Music City Bowl, then cheered wildly as the Big Blue dumped Clemson to conclude an 8-5 season.

"It takes a special group of young men to put it on the line the way they did," Brooks said.

The Cats put it on the line, all right. But first, they put it on video.


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