Historically, we own Bye. After many hours in the public library poring over countless dusty tomes, I unearthed this astonishing statistic: Kentucky is undefeated against Bye all-time, compiling a record of 73-0-1 (Bye did tie us two years ago--thanks, Joker). Still, undefeated is undefeated.
According to J. Theodore Littlefield IV, author of A History of Southern Foot Ball in America (Scribner, 1922), Kentucky's first victory over Bye came in 1919. He writes:
"The University of Kentucky Wild-cats, led by All-America half back George H."Whitey" Pennington, Jr., halted their one-game losing streak by not playing in the third and final week of the 1919 college foot ball season."
JL4 sure can paint a picture, can't he? If you close your eyes, you can almost hear the players scraping the wet earth from their cleats. Kentucky's dominance over Bye continued uninterrupted until the 1940s when Kentucky coach Bear Bryant cancelled the series because "not playing football for a week is for (redacted: offensive to women, the French and, somehow, horizontal stripes)."
Tommy St. Randy, whom I peg at about 27 or 28, remembers it well. During our Wednesday ritual of "talking about football and chicks," Tommy looks wistfully around his murder room I mean garage, takes a drink of St. Ides Special Brew (author's note: they stopped making those in the '90s but Tommy still gets them because Dutch St. Ides, Tommy's other stepbrother, "owes him big because that gal was at least two and a quarter"), and recalls:
TSR: "I remember that. It was right after my cousin Dale Earnhardt St. Randy got kicked out of the army on account of he lost both arms."
Me: Kicked him out--after he was wounded in active duty? That's a scandal!
TSR: What were they supposed to do? He couldn't ring the damn bell anymore.
Me: ...are you talking about the Salvation Army?
TSR: Dale served 'em for damn near ten years, or well he served 'em three days a week for two weeks every Christmas. Can't beat it--ring a bell, they give you money. He was clearing three hundred bucks a day at the Middletown Kroger.
Me: I just
TSR: Ol' Bear Bryant didn't give a f#ck about nothin. You want a special brew? I've got some mixed fruit left, but I'm saving the blues. I drink those on game days, you know that.
Me: I do know that, Tommy.
Bye and the University of Kentucky reconvened under Fran Curci, and the streak continued. It wasn't until 2012, the final year of the Joker Phillips regime, that Bye finally took one back--at least half of one. With the score tied and Commonwealth Stadium empty of both fans and players, Kentucky was so pitiful that everyone, including Joker, agreed: Kentucky didn't win. In fact, offensive coordinator (LOL) Randy Sanders was so dedicated to the idea of Kentucky not winning, he spent the rest of his tenure at Kentucky making sure they didn't win anything; he didn't even want them to come close. And you know what? They didn't.
In closing: THANK YOU, MARK STOOPS. THANK YOU, NEAL BROWN. THANK YOU, DJ ELIOT. THANK YOU. FROM THE BOTTOM OF THIS KENTUCKY FAN'S HEART: THANK YOU.