For many years, fans of the Kentucky Wildcat football program have wondered aloud what the missing ingredient was to finally get the moribund program off the mat and to be a player in an always difficult SEC. Ask any Cat fan who followed UK through the good, the bad, and the awful and it’s a guarantee that missing ingredient was either a coach, talent, facilities, or something of the like. Over the last six years, each of those ingredients have been addressed and improved without question.
But as it turns out, the one ingredient that was needed to allow this Wildcat club to achieve what seemed like was impossible just a few years back is the one thing that all living things need.
After the Cats drilled then No. 14 Mississippi State 28-7 recently at a rainy Kroger Field, the theme for the game wasn’t execution or effort (though both were on display in spades), it was how much this Wildcat team loves each other.
Coach Mark Stoops said “I love this team, the way that they prepare and go about their business.”
Heisman Trophy candidate Benny Snell Jr. said in multiple interviews after gashing the Bulldogs for 165 yards and four TD’s “I love my team.”
TE CJ Conrad added “This is the closest team I’ve ever been a part of. We all love each other.”
Amazing, isn’t it? It is amazing what can be accomplished when we simply love each other.
When we love each other, it’s more than words, it’s in deeds. When a sports team loves each other, beautiful things like trusting your brother to do the right things off the field, doing that extra rep when the crowd isn’t in the stands or in the weight room, or making that extra effort to make a play your team has to have isn’t the exception, it’s the norm.
Consider the events the last couple of weeks when players at Florida and Tennessee walked out on their teams during the game. Can you imagine there is a lot of love in those programs? It would be hard to believe.
Love gets you through the hard spots in life. Love gives you hope that the next play will be better.
So when you watch the Wildcats next Saturday, remember that the glue that holds this team together isn’t sheer will, discipline, or pride (all three are there without question). The force that drives the Wildcats is that four letter word…
Shane Shackleford is a regional sports writer from Speedwell, Tenn. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook, or Twitter @shack_daddy_1.