By KEITH PEEL, Contributing Writer
Most people seem to love the old TV reruns of the Andy Griffith Show. Andy is the small town sheriff in Mayberry and his crazy but lovable sidekick is Deputy Barney Fife.
In most of the shows Andy’s homespun wisdom always comes through to solve the crime and save the day. Invariably the so-called “law enforcement professionals” – State Bureau of Investigation, FBI or the State Police – would come to town looking for a criminal and ask Andy and Barney to stay out of the way while they – the “Big Boys” – solve the crime. In the end Andy always uses his wisdom and experience to bring the criminals to justice and embarrass the “law enforcement professionals”.
I know you’re thinking “why is he telling us about the Andy Griffith TV show? What does this have to do with sports?” Here’s why.
Those shows remind me a lot of UK Football. Here’s what I mean. Generally UK Football is kind of like the Andy Griffith show. The “Big Boys” of law enforcement on Andy Griffith never believed that Andy could solve the case. They thought he didn’t have enough education, experience, talent or toughness to do the job. He’s told to stay at the jail and wait to catch his small time “chicken thieves and jay walkers”.
That’s the same treatment UK Football tends to get from a lot of the National Media. They believe UK is not talented enough, fast enough, big enough, smart enough or tough enough to play with the “Big Boys” of college football. And up to this point they have been right. But times change, people change and programs change. Sometimes you can have a perception of someone due to their speech patterns, looks or where they came from and be totally wrong.
Sometimes three star players that the “Big Boys” didn’t want can turn into the Benny Snell, Jrs of the college football world. Sometimes those guys that aren’t respected at the beginning – like Benny Snell, Jr – can end up being the best of the best at what they do. Just like Andy Griffith.
So when Kentucky signs a three star football player out of Alabama that wasn’t recruited by the “Big Boys” – like Allen Dailey – think about Andy Griffith and the down-home smarts that he always had when it came to law enforcement and life in a small town. How Andy could evaluate the situation and make a correct judgement even though he was disrespected by his peers for his lack of experience and big city polish. And think about how the UK staff continues to go out and find guys that can play – and play at a high level – and use them to beat teams like Florida that have a Top 10 recruiting class each year – and give the coaches a little respect for what they have done.
That is win football games at a school where it is very difficult to win and in a conference where it is very difficult to win and do it while most of the National Media continues to give all the reasons why they can’t.
If Kentucky beats No. 14 Mississippi State this weekend – and that’s a big if – it won’t be by dumb luck or because of some fluke happening. If will happen because some players who weren’t considered to be good enough and some coaches who weren’t considered smart enough put in hours and hours of work to prove to the ” Big Boys” that they can do the job. And do it very well.
Just like Andy Griffith in his competition with the State Police. Andy always used his innate wisdom and small town experience to solve the case and get his man. Even if no one believed he could. And sometimes, even with all the doubters, Andy used what he had – like light bulbs dropped off the jail rooftop that sounded like machine gun fire – to win the day and beat the bad guys.
Mark Stoops and his staff continue to do the same thing. Use what they have, recruit some players that might have slipped through the cracks and develop them into skilled football players to win the day and beat the bad guys.
I just haven’t figured out yet who on the staff is Deputy Barney Fife.