By LARRY VAUGHT
The longer the Kentucky football coach search goes, the more the rumors spread and grow.
The hot speculation Wednesday was that former Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer had been offered a short-term deal to take over the program and get things back in order so the job would be more attractive to a big-name coach.
Never did I believe that because it would be impossible for any coach to recruit in that situation and season ticket sales would plummet.
However, I was told by several folks not to rule Fulmer’s name completely out. He could be the final backup plan.
Others continue to tell me that Louisiana Tech’s Sonny Dykes is high on the UK list, or maybe at the top. From what I’ve been told, contact has been made with his agent. Several sources with connections to the team say they have been told Dykes could be No. 1 on the list.
One very good source insists that the top target from day one for Barnhart has been Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, but apparently he’s not interested in the Kentucky job.
Apparently many UK fans are going to be disappointed because it seems the chances of hiring Bobby Petrino have all but gone away. Some are insisting Petrino has tried to make his interest known to UK officials but has not even been able to have a conversation about the job.
Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart remains a viable option except that several coaches have told me it would be hard for them to seeing him going to Kentucky after being at LSU and Alabama.
One name I keep hearing a lot is Mike MacIntyre of San Jose State, who is in his third year as head coach and has a contract through 2017. His connection to UK — he is being pushed by Duke coach David Cutcliffe. He was defensive coordinator at Duke under Cutcliffe and Cutcliffe knows Barnhart from their time together at Tennessee.
Confused? Most of us are, and probably will be until the coach is finally hired.
I heard sports talk show host Larry Glover explain this whole situation really well on his nightly show on WVLK Wednesday night. He said he expected UK fans to be “underwhelmed” by the coaching hire and just sensed a general lack of direction with the search. And from all I’ve seen and heard, it sure seems underwhelmed is a word a lot of fans are fearing.