By KEITH PEEL
During the bye week I was thinking about UK’s recent wins against South Carolina and Vanderbilt and wondering if those wins signaled hope for the future of Kentucky football.
My first inclination was to find out how unsuccessful programs became successful in the SEC. I needed look no further than Vanderbilt under James Franklin. Franklin’s teams finished 2-6, 5-3 and 4-4 in the SEC during his tenure from 2011 thru 2013. His teams went to three consecutive bowl games and finished ranked 23rd and 24th in the AP poll his last two years. His overall record the last two years was 18-8.
The amazing thing about Franklin’s accomplishments is that he only beat one SEC team (Georgia) with a winning SEC record during that three-year stretch. Based on Vanderbilt’s accomplishments during that time period it appears that for UK to be successful they only have to beat the teams on their schedule with a losing SEC record.
Past history bears that out. Had UK beaten teams with a losing record in the SEC the last two years they would have finished in 4th place in the SEC East each year and been in a bowl game with a 7-5 record.
So based on this information what about 2016? If UK can beat the teams on its schedule that will most likely have a losing SEC record (UK is 2 for 2 so far against those teams) they should end up at 4-4 in the SEC with an overall record of 6-6, good enough to go bowling.
Georgia could still potentially have a losing SEC record which would mean UK would be 7-5 and 5-3 in the SEC if Georgia has a losing record (and UK beat them as one of the losers). All of this could be accomplished by only beating the teams that have a losing record in the SEC.
Looking at Vanderbilt’s accomplishments it should give us hope that if we can continue to beat the losers in the SEC we can become a yearly bowl team that is a ” middle of the road” competitor in the SEC. That would be a huge step up from where we sit today.