"The good news for Kentucky is that we are in bowl games now and showing we are not a flash in the pan."
Brooks said he was encouraged Wednesday to see Vanderbilt get its first bowl win in 55 years when it beat Boston College in the Music City Bowl and watch LSU demolish Georgia Tech 38-3.
"We absolutely do feel an allegiance to the SEC to represent our league in a positive manner. We've been able to do that for two years. The SEC is 2-0 in two games and the Pac-10 is 4-0 and has some impressive wins. There is always conference pride because that leads to speculation on who will be ranked where in the preseason," Brooks said.
The Kentucky coach understands his Wildcats are an underdog after losing six of their last eight games while East Carolina won six of its last seven games to finish 9-4. He's seen the fan poll on ESPN where 81.4 percent of the nation picks East Carolina to win.
"I can see why people think that way based on the way East Carolina finished and we finished. We just hope to play better than we did at the end of the year. We had an opportunity to be better than 6-6 and didn't finish.
"I hope the way we finished the season is not what you see (in the bowl game). East Carolina finished on a positive not. Their game finished the season a lot better than we did."
Brooks isn't worried about a smaller UK crowd than what supported the Wildcats at the Music City Bowl the last two years.
"It's obvious we are not going to have the stadium as full of blue as we did in Nashville the last two years," the UK coach said. "For whatever reason, they are not excited about our offense, the economy is bad, or it's a three-hour longer drive from Lexington, the crowd will be down. But I know the fans we have there will be very supportive and we have to just go play hard and do our part."