By LARRY VAUGHT
I asked former University of Kentucky football players Derek Abney, Freddie Maggard, Jason Todd, Andy Murray and Dave Hopewell a series of questions about Kentucky football. This is the first of a series of posts over the next few days with their answers.
Question: Do you remember a time when there was more excitement over UK football, especially coming off a 2-10 season?
Hopewell: “For me personally only one time. I was a freshman at UK in 1975 and we went 2-8-1. I sure hated to go home that Christmas. I could feel the embarrassment for me from my entire family. But we as a team knew we were better than that and the next two years we went 9-3 and then 10-1 and won the last SEC Championship UK has ever won in football. That’s still my dream for this team.
“But as a parent of players and as a fan, no I have never seen this much excitement. I do feel most fans are really happy about the way things have gone with this hire. It looks like coach Stoops has been given free rein on what he was wanting to do and I am really glad to see that.”
Todd: “The only thing I have to compare this to is the transition from Coach Curry to Coach Mumme between the 1996 and 1997 seasons. UK spent a lot of time and money getting out the word about the “air raid” offense that Mumme was bringing. Now we have the “air raid” part II and to go along with it, we have Coach Stoops and his background on the defensive side. As much as most fans will be excited about the offensive potential, I am just excited to see what Coach Stoops will be able to do with our defense. I would like nothing better than to have a defense that can stop people in the SEC. Regardless of the outcome, I will forever be a UK fan and avid supporter.”
Maggard: “I can’t, and I’ve been a fanatic since birth. Maybe after coach Jerry Claiborne’s first-second season, but today’s instant communication and social media takes this to a level uncharted at UK.”
Murray: “Not since the afternoon of us beating Louisville and listening to the Air Raid sirens in Commonwealth Stadium.”
Abney: “Absolutely not. And the excitement seems entirely justifiable.”