A Call to Arms for Kentucky Fans

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If you’re anything like me, you’re going through a wide range of emotions today.

You’re probably sad, sad that the nation  is giddy with anticipation of the upcoming NCAA tournament, filling out brackets five at a time, and here we sit as UK fans, left out of the Big Dance for only the second time since 1992. It’s a time of year we consider a national holiday, a “Big Blue Christmas”, if you will. And yet, here were are, on the outside looking in.

You’re probably embarrassed, embarrassed by the performance of a team full of top-flight recruits coached by one of the best coaches in the country and somehow they came short of their goal. You feel like the nation is staring at us, pointing and laughing as they head off Dancing. As the team heads to Pittsburgh to play Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT (ugh), you’re staying off national message boards, trying to stave off the criticisms and the cat calls.

And with that sadness and embarrassment comes ANGER. Yes, ANGER! We feel that the Tournament is our birthright! We should be there, just like we always have been in the past! Someone’s to blame, we need to point the finger at SOMEONE! SOMETHING! Sure, it would be easy to cite the injury of top player Nerlens Noel as the catalyst for Kentucky’s downfall, but let’s be honest, something was amiss long before then. And you could point to a group of Freshmen who (gasp!) actually played like Freshmen, but we’ve been spoiled by the likes of John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins and Brandon Knight and Anthony Davis that we’ve forgotten that most Freshmen actually need time to adjust to the game. Some are even blaming Coach Cal for the dreadful season, citing the lack of any experienced players on this year’s team as the reason the newcomers didn’t “gel” like the should have.  Nevermind that players he thought would be back, like Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague, left for the greener pastures of the NBA. This was supposed to be Eric Bledsoe’s senior season, some claim. This was the year he led the team to the Promised Land and etched his name among the most beloved Wildcats of all time. He wasn’t supposed to be a one-and-done player, he was recruited to be the grizzled veteran of the NCAA wars, the guy who his teammates looked up to on and off the floor. But when cream rises to the top, like it did with Lamb and Teague and Bledsoe, you can’t hide it.

Believe me, I’m right there with you. I myself have went through a veritable pantheon of emotions since yesterday. You know this was the first time that I missed a Selection Show for as long as I can remember? Sunday at 6:00PM was as sacred and guarded as any major sporting event in terms of being ready and available in front of the TV. But this year? I just didn’t have the heart to watch it.

We may be sad, we may be embarrassed and we darn sure may be angry, but we need to sit back and take a deep breath. This season is not over yet, and our basketball team needs us now more than ever. We’ve been through some incredible good times over the years, and we’ve been through some bad as well. But we don’t need to give up on our team, our players, our coach. These guys need us now more than ever.

If we give up on our guys now, we’re just as bad as the message board trolls say we are. We’re better than that. Coach Cal needs our support now more than ever. Guys like Jarrod Polson, who gave every ounce of effort he had each and every night, they need us cheering them on. We may not like how the season ended up going for us, but we’re still Kentucky fans, the best in the nation. We pack a 25,000 seat arena each year to watch the first practice, and camp out for a week in advance to boot. We flood online opinion polls, no matter how trivial, to make sure UK finishes on top. We wear our blue and white year round, even to school and church and court. And when we can’t sit in front of a TV to watch the games, we’re constantly peeking to check the scores or listen to Tom Leach’s analysis on the radio. We’re known to travel with our team anywhere, whether it’s Nashville or New York, Atlanta or Albuquerque.

Let’s not forsake our team now at its darkest hour. Let’s show the world we continue to live and die by the Blue!

  • kenneth

    i am proud to be a wildcat fan and will watch thim no matterr what the wildcats are the best asd they will show that in the nit go cats your the best

  • Liz Notess

    I’m not sad or embarrassed, I’m proud to be a UK Fan. My Grandfather, Brinkley Barnett, was captain of the team 100 years ago and top scorer, too (one player shot all the free throws and it was Brinkley Barnett!!!)! I’m wearing blue today and everyday here in Bloomington, Indiana. Go Cats!

  • http://www.facebook.com/padget.gayledavis Padget Gayle Davis

    Been a Wildcat Fan as long I as I can remeber. I awalys will be. So we had a bad year. We have to suck it up, remain Loyal, and TRUE BLUE as we have always been. We are know across this country as the greatest fans any team could ever have. I am very proud to be known that way. Best of luck in the NIT Wildcats. Much love from Indiana.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cheryl.banks.754 Cheryl Banks

    I agree we need to stand by them. I live in florida and I am proud to wear my UK shirts and carry the coffee cups with me. I get looks but I also have people come up to me and say they support the team also. We had a bad year but that happens to the best of us. If you are a true fan you need to act like one.

  • Rebecca

    I will always be behind the BBN. No matter what,and Coach Cal picked Ky. for a reason
    you know. It’s because we are the Best and our Fans show it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lissie.mae Melissa ‘Bickett’ Smith

    One mediocre season won’t make me stop rooting for the Cats. I always will Bleed Blue and I think Coach Cal has done a hell of a job. It will be a bit empty without UK in the big dance, but we as the BBN do need to step up and show the nation that no matter what happens with the season, UK really does have the best fans.

  • D.j. Leopold

    I were my UK gear everyday and I go to U of L(reluctantly), I will never be embarrassed to be a wildcat! BBN 4 Life!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/don.smith.165 Don Smith

    Well written article. I agree 100% with your assessment of this years team. I am and will forever be a life member of the BBN.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-McIntosh/1340414531 Steve McIntosh

    I’m a Big UK fan but under no circumstances do I feel anger or embarrassment…that’s just stupid! They’re kids and entitled to mistakes..Cal is Human and entitled to mistakes..If I get angry it’ll be for a good reason like our country falling apart!

  • Bonnie Matherly

    Once a Wildcat fan ALWAYS a Wildcat fan! Go Big Blue!

  • Mary Husband

    Happy to be a part of the BIG BLUE NATION. GO CATS , WIN at what ever you do .

  • http://twitter.com/BeingSouthern Dirk Cotton

    Darkest hour? I’ve been a Cats fan since 1964. This isn’t even close. Go Big Blue.

  • Jeff Gales

    im a big blue fan since 1972 !!! and im not mad at the way things are !!! hell i was more mad at the lattner shot then any game ever !!! but i always bleed blue !!! i feel sorry for the team and coach cal !!! but will bounce back like we always do !!!! i knew we would not be that good this year we have no bench ??? i hope these guys see how the guys from previous teams have struggled in the NBA and make a better choice for themselves??? jones ,lamb, etc…. stayed another year and still are having troubles in the NBA after being in the D league !!! i want to see all of them stay and then will have a team like the 96 champs !!! and we can send in 5 men sub as good as the ones coming out !!!! and run the other teams to death !!! i was just wondering will they be putting up giant tv screens outside for the rest of the cat fans that couldnt fit inside of the lil robert morris gym ??? lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/kimberly.wiglesworth Kimberly M Wiglesworth

    I’m a registered True Blue Wildcat Fan, have the dog tag to prove it. I’ve been one of those die-hard fans who have camped out for Big Blue Madness tickets. It disgusts me when I see people on facebook in my own family either claim they’re die-hard fans putting the team down and the coach, just because they lost a game or more. Win or Lose, NCAA or NIT, I will follow the Wildcats whereever they go. Coach Cal was the best thing that ever happened for this sport, just as Matthew Mitchell has been the best thing that’s happened to the womens hoops team. I’ll never forget back in 2011, the last time my Mom got to go to Big Blue Madness before she passed from Colon Cancer, and Calipari sent her a letter, autograph picture of himself, and one of the team. It made my mother’s day, and my Dad still has all three, safely tucked away. I love the BBN, and I will always bleed blue til the day I die. Forget those so called fans who think Cal should be fired for having a bum season. It’s a young team, and they can only go up from here. GO BIG BLUE!!!!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/kalipcase Kalip Case

      GREAT JOB KIMBERLY,I COULD NOT PUT ANY BETTER,GO BIG BLUE,and again that was great

  • Joyce Froedge Church

    Thanks Josh White for that excellent assessment of our Wildcats was feeling a little down today, seem like every where I went on line we were getting put downs from a lot of Cardinals fans feel a lot better now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kalipcase Kalip Case

    you done a great job buddy,it not time to quit on our team if you are a true blue like we are,we got there back and wish them the best of luck, after all they are just kids learning a new program that they have never seen before,so all you haters keep your mouth close and let the boys play,it all new to them ,they got family that read all this shit and they got feeling like everyone else,you would,nt like it if it was your kid there playing right,me neither,so leave them along and let the boys play and have fun,and again that is a good comment above thanks.

  • TWEETY

    AINT MISSED A GAME SINCE 1978,AND I WAS IN THE ARMY THEN!NOT STARTING NOW!

  • http://www.facebook.com/allie.guest Allie Guest

    There is nothing better than being part of the Kentucky tradition as that of the Kentucky Wildcats. we have been the ” Legend” for so long that it’s ok to be able to step down from time to time.The Wildcats will always be #1 in my book. Go Cats Go!!!

  • Margie Anderson

    I’m not sad or embarrassed.. I am proud to be a KY fan… I stand behind the guys and the coach.. I bleed blue always.. I love my CATS…

  • http://twitter.com/CMarieRayford Connie Marie Rayford

    Big Blue Nation fan for life…….they will always have my support!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/justin.hogue.925 Justin Hogue

    am a big uk fan not sad we had young players but we should have keep a few from last sesion but they play for uk one year and go to pro beacuse thats what they do if we the fans could change the rule they couldent leave to pro for at least 3 years of playing for a team we had great time waching them we beat flordia for exmple we had a good team we just had rough teams i thank we well desrve to be in ncaa but i say we stil can win the nit games if our young players learn one thing that is to play toghter and not to give up but something is wrong we spose to have the best young players out there

  • Jackie

    You go Glen Coco!