Brooks emotional enough for Cats

September 26, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - Kentucky coach Rich Brooks knows he's been criticized for not being emotional enough in his first season with the Wildcats.

That's why he not only made three references to his perceived lack of emotion during his regular press conference this week, but also ended his media session by shouting, "Let's get fired up for Florida, dammit."

"I think I have plenty of emotion on the sidelines," said Brooks. "Anyone who doesn't think that should maybe watch me a little closer."

Brooks' players know he can be emotional. It was Brooks who suggested the players do something special for the fans if they won at Indiana. After UK's 34-17 victory, the Cats celebrated with the "Hillbilly Hoedown" that had quarterback Jared Lorenzen pretending to shoot his teammates as they gathered around him in a circle.


"Coach Brooks just wanted us to let the fans know we appreciated them being there. He left it up to us about what to do, but he let us know we should do something," offensive guard Sylvester Miller said.

Kentucky defensive coordinator Mike Archer knows he can sometimes be a bit too excitable. However, he also thinks it is unfair to criticize Brooks for a perceived lack of emotion.

"I see him up close and first hand every day," Archer said. "Is he as emotional as (Pittsburgh Steelers coach) Bill Cowher was when I was there the last eight years? No. But he's very much into the game and very enthusiastic. He cares and does all he can to get the most out of these guys every day.

"I'm the kind who sometimes says things to officials, and players, that others wouldn't. That's just me. But it is unfair to criticize Rich for not being emotional. Players respect him and know he's into every practice and game."

Visiting: Two highly-touted high school teammates from Atlanta will be making official visits to Kentucky this weekend to watch the Wildcats play Florida. Courtney Abbott is a 6-9, 340-pound offensive tackle and Michael Brown is a 6-5, 270-pound offensive lineman.

Brown has offers from Georgia, LSU, Auburn, Florida, Louisville and others. Abbott has offers from LSU, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, Virginia and others.

Both credited recruiting coordinator Joker Phillips for convincing them to visit Kentucky.

"I love the fans at Kentucky and want to see how they are in person," Abbott, a former basketball player who can bench press 400 pounds, said. "I am looking for a school where my family can see me play and that I can make a quick impact."

Brown said playing time is also a major concern for him along with how he relates to the coaches and fans.

"I've never been there and want to see if the fans get pumped up and stay up," Brown said.

Picking Kentucky: The Wildcats are an underdog against 25th-ranked Florida, but Tony Mejia of has a different idea.

"The UF (University of Florida) message boards will be burning up as (freshman quarterback Chris) Leak's debut (as a starter against Kentucky) isn't a successful one. Wildcats, 31-28," wrote Mejia.

Josh Dubow of The Associated Press has a different idea.

"Gators have won 16 straight against Wildcats ... Florida 24-13," Dubow wrote.

Kentucky's players, though, know not to pay attention to any predictions.

"All that stuff is nice and makes for interesting conversation, but it still up to us to go make the plays it takes to finally beat Florida," Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen said.

Larry Vaught can be reached at

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