By KEITH PEEL
If you have ever attended a UK football game in the last four years I am sure you are very familiar with the sound of the “air raid” siren. It is played in celebration after UK scores a touchdown.
For those fans that are old like me you will remember that the “air raid” siren became famous during the Hal Mumme era at UK when he brought his revolutionary “air raid ” offense to UK football. He (and the offense) became instant stars in the Bluegrass. The “air raid” offense was exciting, unpredictable and unconventional just like it’s inventor, Hal Mumme.
Unfortunately for fans of the offense (and the coach) it didn’t win many games. Mumme’s overall record at UK was 20-26 with a loss in the Outback Bowl and a loss in the Music City Bowl. His last year he was 2-9 and 0-8 in the conference. Even though Mumme’s record was not that memorable the offense has resonated with UK fans since that first day Hal Mumme stepped on the field at Commonwealth Stadium.
It has resonated so much with UK fans that other coaches have tried to recreate a version of it during their tenure at UK. Guy Morris had elements of it, so did Rich Brooks and Joker Phillips also tried to create in the minds of fans an explosive offense that could score a lot of points throwing the football.
I don’t remember any of those coaches coming in to UK and saying “we are going to line up and knock the other team back as we run the ball up the middle.” Nobody was foolish enough to try that at UK except Bill Curry (and that was before the advent of the “air raid”) and it was a colossal failure.
Then in walks Mark Stoops in 2013 as the new head coach at UK. The first thing he said was” we will run the air raid.” Unfortunately for Mark Stoops he was a guy from Youngstown, Ohio trying to run an offense that was far from his “three yards and a cloud of dust” roots. His family tree hailed from the grind it out, tough as nails area of Ohio that clearly understood that you win football games by running the football.
His offensive attempts to run the “air raid” always seemed out of sync. They never looked like the “air raid.” They looked like a guy wanting to run the ball but having to throw it more than he liked to create buy-in from the fan base. Unfortunately if you put a pig in a dress with lipstick people can still see that it is a pig. Most fans saw that the offense he was trying to run didn’t suit his personality. It was ugly like the pig in a dress.
Fast forward to 2016. Mark Stoops has an offensive line that can block, running backs that can run and Stoops is running an offense he is proud of. One that scores touchdowns and wins ball games. One that eats up the clock in the fourth quarter when you need to protect a lead, one that throws the deep ball off of play action. Play action that works because the other team knows you can run the ball. That hard nosed offense is not the “air raid.” Far from it. But it wins ball games. Seven of them in fact.
Kentucky fans are happy. The players are happy. Mark Stoops is happy. The only one not happy is the guy that has to crank up the “air raid” siren after each score. Because he knows it’s not the ” air raid.”
Doesn’t even pretend to be. Maybe it’s time to retire the “air raid” siren and replace it with something else. Maybe a long blast from the horn of a Mack truck. That way teams will know they were just run over by the UK running game. Compliments of a blue collar coach from Youngstown, Ohio.