Kentucky Wildcats football
Current season:
2019 Kentucky Wildcats
7832 kentucky wildcats-primary-2016.png NCAA-SEC-UK Wildcats Helmet-White.png
First season 1881
Athletic director Mitch Barnhart
Head coach Mark Stoops
7th year, 44–44–0 (.500)
Home stadium Kroger Field
Stadium capacity 67,606
Stadium surface Bermuda Grass
Location Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.
Conference SEC (1932–present)
Division SEC Eastern Division (1992–present)
All-time history
Kentucky Wildcats Historical Teams
1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889
1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895 1896 1897 1898 1899
1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909
1910 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919
1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929
1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939
1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
2020 2021 2022
All-time record 623–626–44 (.499)
Postseason bowl record 10–9–0 (.526)
Claimed national titles 1
Conference titles 2
Rivalries Tennessee Volunteers
Louisville Cardinals
South Carolina Gamecocks
Consensus All-Americans Template:American college football All-Americans
Current uniform
NCAA-SEC-UK Wildcats Uniforms.png
Colors Blue, White, and Black (Alternate Color)


Fight song On, On, U of K; Kentucky Fight
outfitter Nike

The Kentucky Wildcats football team represents the University of Kentucky located in Lexington, Kentucky. The Wildcats are a member of the NCAA FBS Southeastern Conference and play their home games at Kroger Field in Lexington. The Wildcats are currently coached by Mark Stoops.

History[edit | edit source]

Early history[edit | edit source]

ntil about 1913, the modern University of Kentucky was referred to as "Kentucky State College" and nearby Transylvania University was known as "Kentucky University". In 1880, Kentucky University and Centre College played the first intercollegiate football game in Kentucky. Kentucky State first fielded a football team in 1881, playing three games against rival Kentucky University. The team was revived in 1891. Both the inaugural 1881 squad and the revived 1891 squad have unknown coaches according to university records in winning two games and losing three.[1] The 1891 team's colors were blue and light yellow, decided before the Centre–Kentucky game on December 19. A student asked "What color blue?" and varsity letterman Richard C. Stoll pulled off his necktie, and held it up. This is still held as the origin of Kentucky's shade of blue. The next year light yellow was dropped and changed to white.[2] The 1892 team was coached by A. M. Miller, and went 2–4–1.[3]

The greatest UK team of this era was the 1898 squad, known simply to Kentuckians as "The Immortals."[3] To this day, the Immortals remain the only undefeated, untied, and unscored upon team in UK football history.[3] The Immortals were coached by W. R. Bass and ended the year a perfect 7–0–0, despite an average weight of 147 pounds per player.[3] Victories came easily for this squad, as the Immortals raced by Kentucky University (18- 0), Georgetown (28–0), Company H of the 8th Massachusetts (59–0), Louisville Athletic Club (16–0), Centre (6–0), 160th Indiana (17–0) and Newcastle Athletic Club (36–0).[3]

Head coach Jack Wright led the team to a 7–1 record in 1903, losing only to rival and southern champion Kentucky University.[3]

Fred Schacht posted a 15–4–1 record in two seasons but died unexpectedly after his second season.[3] J. White Guyn also had success leading the Wildcats, posting a 17–7–1 record in his three years.[3]

Edwin Sweetland went 16–3 in three seasons (1909–1910 and 1912) but resigned due to poor health.[3] Sweetland also served as Kentucky's first athletics director.[3] The 1909 team upset the Illinois Fighting Illini. Upon their welcome home, Philip Carbusier said that they had "fought like wildcats," a nickname that stuck.[4]

File:Doc rodes.jpg

Doc Rodes.

John J. Tigert coached Kentucky for two seasons (19151916) with each season having one loss. 1915 captain Charles C. Schrader was All-Southern. The 1916 team fought the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) co-champion Tennessee Volunteers to a scoreless tie. The year's only a loss, 45 to 0 to the Irby Curry-led Vanderbilt Commodores, was the dedication of Stoll Field. Quarterbacks Curry and Kentucky's Doc Rodes were both selected All-Southern at year's end. Vanderbilt coach Dan McGugin stated "If you would give me Doc Rodes, I would say he was a greater player than Curry."[5]

Coach Harry Gamage had a 32–25–5 record during his seven seasons from 1927 to 1933.[3] A.D. Kirwan, who would go on to be the president of the university, coached the Wildcats from 1938 to 1944 and posted a 24–28–4 record in those six seasons.[3]

Longtime athletics director Bernie Shively also served as Kentucky's head football coach for the 1945 season.[3]

Coaches of Note[edit | edit source]

Paul "Bear" Bryant Era (1946-53)[edit | edit source]

As a member of the football-heavy SEC, they compete against many of the top college football programs in the nation. They play at Commonwealth Stadium, which replaced Stoll Field in 1973. Paul "Bear" Bryant was Kentucky's head football coach for eight seasons.

Under Bryant the Wildcats won the 1947 Great Lakes Bowl, lost the 1950 Orange Bowl, won the 1951 Sugar Bowl and the 1952 Cotton Bowl Classic. In final AP polls, the Wildcats were ranked #11 in 1949, #7 in 1950, #15 in 1951, #20 in 1952 and #16 in 1953. The final 1950 poll was taken prior to the bowl games; Kentucky then defeated undefeated and #1 ranked Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, ending the Sooners 31 game winning streak. The NCAA recognized Kentucky as their 1950 co-national champion in football after commissioning Jeff Sagarin to apply his rankings to seasons before the advent of the Bowl Coalition.

Blanton Collier era (1954–1961)[edit | edit source]

Cleveland Browns assistant Blanton Collier was hired to replace Bryant as head football coach at Kentucky in late 1953.[6] After completing his first season at Kentucky, Collier was named SEC Coach of the Year after posting a 7–2 record.[6] Collier's assistants during his tenure at Kentucky included the likes of Bill Arnsparger, Chuck Knox, Howard Schnellenberger, and Don Shula.[7]

Despite having a winning record, 41–36–3 in eight seasons, Collier was fired.[8] Collier struggled to recruit for much of his tenure, about which frustrated fans wrote letters of complaint to the university.[9] Collier is the last Kentucky head football coach to leave the Wildcats with a winning record.

Fran Curci Era (1973-81)[edit | edit source]

The 1976 Wildcats claimed a share of the Southeastern Conference championship under coach Fran Curci and won the Peach Bowl, finishing #18 in the final AP poll. The 1977 Kentucky team went 10–1 and was undefeated in SEC play but, despite finishing the season ranked #6 in the AP poll, did not play in a bowl game due to NCAA sanctions. Kentucky finished at #6 and Penn State at #5 despite the fact that Kentucky defeated Penn State at Penn State during the regular season.

Jerry Claiborne Era (1982-89)[edit | edit source]

Coach Jerry Claiborne led the Wildcats to the 1983 Hall of Fame Bowl. Kentucky returned to the 1984 Hall of Fame Bowl and defeated a Wisconsin team ranked #20 in the polls to finish the season with a 9–3 record and a #19 ranking in the final AP and UPI polls. The E.J. Nutter Training Facility was built in 1987.[10]

Bill Curry Era (1990-96)[edit | edit source]

The Wildcats played in the 1993 Peach Bowl under coach Bill Curry. surprised the college football world by leaving Alabama for Kentucky in late 1989.[11][12] Despite the high hopes that the Kentucky football program would rise under his leadership, Curry's Wildcats teams never achieved much success.[13] The Wildcats' best season under Curry was 1993, going on to play Clemson in the 1993 New Year's Eve Peach Bowl. It would be his only winning season in seven years. On the other side of the spectrum, his 1994 team went 1-10, the worst record in modern program history.[14] Curry was asked to resign after seven seasons and just a .33 winning percentage.[15] Curry's record at Kentucky was 26–52.[16]

Hal Mumme Era (1997-2000)[edit | edit source]

Coach Hal Mumme led the Wildcats to the 1998 Outback Bowl and the 1999 Music City Bowl but the program was hit with severe sanctions for infractions during Mumme's tenure. Mumme, who had came to Kentucky from Valdosta State brought an exciting, high-scoring, pass-oriented offense known as the "Air Raid".[17] He led the Wildcats to the 1998 Outback Bowl and the 1999 Music City Bowl.[18] Mumme achieved a 20–26 record in his four seasons.[19] Mumme coached star quarterback Tim Couch, the top overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft. Mumme was popular among the Kentucky fans,[20] but the program was hit with severe sanctions for NCAA violations involving cash payments from an assistant coach to prospective recruits.[19] Although Mumme himself was not implicated in any violation,[21] he resigned after the 2000 season.[19] Assistant coaches under Mumme at Kentucky included Mike Leach and Sonny Dykes.[22] Mumme is the last Kentucky coach to beat Alabama.[23]

Guy Morriss (2001-02)[edit | edit source]

Under coach Guy Morriss the Wildcats posted a 7–5 record in 2002 but were not eligible for postseason play due to NCAA sanctions. The most significant event of that season came in a loss to LSU. (See: Bluegrass Miracle)

Rich Brooks (2003-09)[edit | edit source]

The team's next head coach was Rich Brooks, hired in 2002, [24] who led the team out of the probationary years to an 8–5 regular season record in 2006, including a memorable upset over the defending SEC champion Georgia, snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Bulldogs. Brooks also led the football team to its first bowl game since 1999 and its first bowl game victory since 1984, as Kentucky defeated the Clemson University Tigers 28–20 in the Music City Bowl. [2] The Wildcats were ranked 8th in the nation before a loss to South Carolina on October 4. After the loss to South Carolina, Kentucky bounced back on October 13 to defeat #1 LSU in a historic triple overtime game.

Brooks took Kentucky to four consecutive bowl games, winning the first three. The 2007 Kentucky Wildcats football defeated Florida State 35–28 in the 2007 Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee, on December 31, 2007. Quarterback Andre' Woodson was named the Music City Bowl MVP for the second year in a row. In 2008 the Wildcats opted to go to the Liberty Bowl instead of the Music City Bowl and defeated Conference USA champion East Carolina 25-19. In 2009, Brooks and Kentucky returned to the Music City Bowl, losing in a rematch to Clemson 21-13.

Joker Phillips Era (2010-12)[edit | edit source]

Former Wildcat wide receiver and long time assistant coach and associate head coach Joker Phillips was formally named head coach January, 6, 2010 after Brooks' retirement. [3] Kentucky started off strong under Phillips with a win on the road against arch rival Louisville. The 2010 squad snapped a long standing losing streak to South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier by defeating the Gamecocks at Commonwealth Stadium. However, they dropped games to both Ole Miss and Mississippi State, lost to a Florida team on a down year and once again failed to beat its other arch rival Tennessee, having lost 26 in a row to the Vols, the longest losing streak by one team to another in college football.

On November 26, 2011, Kentucky snapped the longest active FBS losing streak to any one team by defeating the Tennessee Vols 10-7 at Commonwealth Stadium.

Mark Stoops era (2013-present)[edit | edit source]

Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, brother of legendary former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops,[25] was hired as Kentucky's head football coach in late 2012.[26] One of Stoops' first moves was hiring offensive coordinator Neal Brown, who brought back the "Air Raid" offense.[27] After nine months as the head coach of the Wildcats, Stoops and his staff signed the highest ranked recruiting class in program history.[28]

Stoops's first season at Kentucky was a struggle, as the Wildcats duplicated the 2–10 record from 2012.[29] Kentucky's wins in 2013 were over a winless Miami (OH) and FCS opponent Alabama State.[30][29] In Stoops's second season, the Wildcats broke a 17-game SEC losing streak when they beat Vanderbilt the fourth game into the season.[31] The Wildcats finished the 2014 season with a 5–7 record.[32]

In the 2017 season, the Wildcats opened the season with a victory over Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg 24–17. The next week, the Wildcats defeated the Eastern Kentucky Colonels in their home opener at the newly renamed Kroger Field in Lexington. Following a road victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks, they failed to defeat the Florida Gators, whom they had not defeated since 1986. This extended the longest losing streak in SEC history to 31 years. Responding to the criticized loss to Florida, the Wildcats defeated Eastern Michigan and Missouri at Kroger Field, improving their record to 5–1.

Following their bye week, the Kentucky Wildcats fell to #19-ranked Mississippi State team on the road, 45–7. However, the Wildcats improved to 6–2 by defeating the Tennessee Volunteers by a score of 29–26 at Kroger Field. The victory over Tennessee was Kentucky's second victory since 1984 over the Volunteers, and secured bowl eligibility. This was followed by a 37-34 home loss to Ole Miss and a dominating road win over unranked Vanderbilt. The Wildcats then lost to Georgia 42–13 in Athens, Georgia. In their last regular season game against rival Louisville, Kentucky was beaten at home 44–17. Kentucky then proceeded to play Northwestern in Nashville, Tennessee in the Music City Bowl on December 29, and lost 24–23.

In 2018, after beating Central Michigan, Kentucky went to Gainesville to face the Florida Gators, who had won 31 straight against Kentucky, and ended their losing streak with a 27–16 win at The Swamp, the Wildcats' first win in Gainesville since 1979. They added wins in the next two weeks over Murray State and #14 Mississippi State, the second of which put Kentucky into the Top 25, the Wildcats' first ranking since 2007. They then split the next two games, defeating South Carolina for the fifth straight season before losing for the first time, an overtime loss to Texas A&M on the road. After the bye week, Kentucky defeated Vanderbilt at home then beat Missouri on the road thanks to a last second TD pass. Those wins put the Wildcats at 7–1 and #9 in the College Football Playoff Rankings leading in to a home game against the Georgia Bulldogs. In a matchup that determined the SEC East Division champion, the Wildcats were defeated at home 34–17. Kentucky then went on the road at Tennessee, falling to the Volunteers by a score of 24–7, ending their final SEC record at 5–3, the team's first winning season in conference play since 1977. In Kentucky's final home game of the season, senior day, the Wildcats defeated Middle Tennessee by a score of 34–23. Kentucky closed the regular season with a 56–10 rout of Louisville to win back the Governor's Cup. Kentucky was selected to play in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida against #12 ranked Penn State, and won 27-24. This capped only the third 10-win season in school history, and the first since 1977. The Wildcats finished ranked #12 in the AP poll, the first such end-season rank since the 1984 season.

Logos/Unforms[edit | edit source]

Image gallery[edit | edit source]

Seasons[edit | edit source]

2020s[edit | edit source]

Season Coach Record
2020 Mark Stoops TBD

2010s[edit | edit source]

Season Coach Record
2019 Mark Stoops 8-5
2018 Mark Stoops 10-3
2017 Mark Stoops 7-6
2016 Mark Stoops 7-6
2015 Mark Stoops 5-7
2014 Mark Stoops 5-7
2013 Mark Stoops 2-10
2012 Joker Phillips 2-10
2011 Joker Phillips 5-7
2010 Joker Phillips 6-7

2000s[edit | edit source]

Season Coach Record
2009 Rich Brooks 7-6
2008 Rich Brooks 7-6
2007 Rich Brooks 8-5
2006 Rich Brooks 8-5
2005 Rich Brooks 3-8
2004 Rich Brooks 2-9
2003 Rich Brooks 4-8

Bowl games[edit | edit source]

UK has played in 18 bowl games, compiling a record of 9-9. Note that in the table below, the year references the season, and not the actual date the game was played.

Bowl game appearances
Season Bowl Game Winner Loser Record
1947 Great Lakes Bowl UK 24 Villanova 14 1-0
1949 Orange Bowl Santa Clara (CA) 21 UK 13 1-1
1950 Sugar Bowl UK 13 Oklahoma 7 2-1
1951 Cotton Bowl Classic UK 20 TCU 7 3-1
1976 Peach Bowl UK 21 North Carolina 0 4-1
1983 Hall of Fame Classic Bowl West Virginia 20 UK 16 4-2
1984 Hall of Fame Classic Bowl UK 20 Wisconsin 19 5-2
1993 Peach Bowl Clemson 14 UK 13 5-3
1998 Outback Bowl Penn State 26 UK 14 5-4
1999 Music City Bowl Syracuse 20 UK 13 5-5
2006 Music City Bowl UK 28 Clemson 20 6-5
2007 Music City Bowl UK 35 Florida State 28 7-5
2008 Liberty Bowl UK 25 East Carolina 19 8-5
2009 Music City Bowl Clemson 21 UK 13 8-6
2010 BBVA Compass Bowl Pittsburgh 27 UK 10 8-7
2016 TaxSlayer Bowl Georgia Tech 33 UK 18 8-8
2017 Music City Bowl Northwestern 24 UK 23 8-9
2018 Citrus Bowl UK 27 Penn State 24 9-9
2019 Belk Bowl UK 37 Virginia Tech 30 10-9
Total W/L
19 -- -- 10-9

Notable Alumni[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Kentucky Football Media Guide, p. 177
  2. Archived copy. Archived from the original on August 24, 2015. Retrieved on 2015-09-17.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 Kentucky Wildcats Official Athletic Site – Football. Archived from the original on October 7, 2012.
  4. Michael Leo Donovan, Yankees to Fighting Irish : What's Behind Your Favorite Team's Name (Taylor Trade Publications, 2004), p107
  5. Kentucky Players who served in the Military.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Hank Rippetoe. Kentucky Football: The Blanton Collier Years (Part Two) 1954 -1961. A Sea of Blue.
  7. Muscles of Iron. Archived from the original on February 18, 2014. Retrieved on May 21, 2015.
  8. Lexington, KY local and state news by the Lexington Herald-Leader - Retrieved on May 21, 2015.
  9. [1] Template:Webarchive
  10. E.J. Nutter Training Facility. University of Kentucky. Retrieved on 8 March 2010.
  11. The Sports Illustrated Vault -
  12. Bill Curry Hired By Kentucky. philly-archives.
  13. outsidethesidelines. More on Bill Curry.... Roll 'Bama Roll.
  14. Bill Curry. College Football at Archived from the original on February 1, 2014.
  15. Curry Goes Out a Loser Against Tennessee. latimes.
  16. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named
  17. Hal Mumme Named Head Coach of Kentucky Football.
  18. Hal Mumme. College Football at Archived from the original on February 1, 2014.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 "Mumme resigns as Kentucky football coach", USA Today. 
  20. Tim Couch Flashback: "Dangerous As A Broken Fruit Jar" – Saturday Down South. Saturday Down South.
  21. Kentucky gets three years probation. Archived from the original on April 19, 2010. Retrieved on February 19, 2016.
  22. Smart Football.
  23. Winsipedia Alabama vs. Kentucky.
  24. Brooks hired to coach Kentucky.
  25. Mark Stoops on brother Bob Stoops: 'Bob truly represents what is good about college football' (June 7, 2017).
  26. Mark Stoops, Florida State Seminoles defensive coordinator, hired as head coach of Kentucky Wildcats.
  27. Neal Brown Named Offensive Coordinator, Quarterbacks Coach.
  28. SethBurchett. UK football: Mark Stoops – Altering perceptions and expectations. A Sea of Blue.
  29. 29.0 29.1 2013 Kentucky Wildcats Football Schedule.
  30. Alabama State vs. Kentucky - Game Recap - November 2, 2013 - ESPN.
  31. Kentucky tops Vanderbilt 17–7, ends SEC drought. Yahoo Sports (September 27, 2014).
  32. A (December 1, 2014). Stoops: Wildcats progressed despite 5–7 finish. Retrieved on May 21, 2015.

External Links[edit | edit source]

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