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By LARRY VAUGHT
Tom Leach, the voice of the Kentucky Wildcats, spent countless hours in recent months working on a book about the way Rich Brooks has rebuilt the Kentucky football program.
The book is full on colorful stories and has quotes from players, coaches, administrators and media members. Leach lets others help him tell the story about why Brooks has been able to put together three straight winning seasons and take UK to three straight bowl games.
The Kentucky coach is candid in his revelations to Leach and the book has many behind the scenes look at the UK coach and program that are both entertaining and informative.
Here is an excerpt from the book pertaining to UK’s upset of eventual national champion LSU during the 2007 season:
A mandatory two-point conversion attempt by Kentucky in the third overtime failed, meaning LSU could win the game with a touchdown and a successful two-point play. (LSU coach Les) Miles turned to the ground game, calling star tailback Jacob HesterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s number on three straight plays, which netted eight yards. On the third-and-four run, Hester was shaken up on the hit from Kentucky middle linebacker Micah Johnson, so Charles Scott entered the huddle. With the gameÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s outcome on the line, the Tigers prepared to do what they did with perfection against FloridaÃ¢â‚¬â€execute on fourth down.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They had called a time out on fourth-and-two. (Our players) came over to the sidelines and we are out there and linebackers coach (Chuck) Smith is talking to Micah, (defensive coordinator Steve) Brown is on the headset and I am looking at Micah thinking Ã¢â‚¬Ëœgreat tackleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and I see him grabbing his shoulder,Ã¢â‚¬Â Brooks remembered. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He had had a little (joint) problem and I said, Ã¢â‚¬Ëœare you alright?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ He looked at me funny and I said, Ã¢â‚¬ËœBraxton, get in the gameÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Braxton Kelly had started from day one at Kentucky as part of BrooksÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ second recruiting class. As the highly touted Johnson began to make an impact in his second season, he and Kelly split time at the crucial MLB spot. The fact that the Cats had two players of that caliber to alternate was a testament to the depth the coaching staff was building.
As Brooks expected, LSU went back to the same well.
(on the radio…
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Scott is the tailback. Johnson the fullback. Off set I, two tight ends stacked right and now one of them goes in motion to the left . (Matt ) Flynn turns. Leaves it with Scott . No! Hit at the 16. He did not make it. Victory, Kentucky! They have done it. Big Blue Madness on the football field at Commonwealth Stadium, as number one goes down.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Game over. Kentucky 43, LSU 37. Teammate Wesley Woodyard then tackled Kelly in celebration as the fireworks went off above Commonwealth Stadium and a huge throng of Big Blue fans again came pouring onto the turf.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I just remember I felt he was stopped and that he hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t made it. But it was kind of like a long pregnant pause. It took like five seconds, 10 seconds,Ã¢â‚¬Â Brooks recalled, Ã¢â‚¬Å“and then you see Wesley (Woodyard) running around and guys jumping all over Braxton and the place just goes nuts. It is one of the greatest emotional moments. It is one of the reasons why you coach and play the game. It was just a very special moment.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Aft er the game, things are just crazy and I have (police) officers on each shoulder and I am trying to find Les Miles and you see Les Miles and officers running toward the tunnels so, I know I am not going to get him but I am running to catch him,Ã¢â‚¬Â he continued. Ã¢â‚¬Å“To my right is (UK associate AD) John Cropp and we collide and I hit him with my right shoulder, he hits me with his left and he goes tumbling down on the field. That is one of the better hits I have given. It was chaotic to say the least.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think we were both walking on air,Ã¢â‚¬Â Cropp said.
* * *
There are many more stories just like in the book. If you are a UK football fan, this is must read for you. To order go to tomleachky.com. Leach also hopes to have the book available at Kroger and Wal-Mart.