UK’s Thin 30 – More State Grid Stars

| November 1, 2012

Is this the lowest any University of Kentucky football team has ever been?

No!

Not even close.

At least none of the coaches have been beating on the players.

All right, name a worse situation endured by the Wildcats.

Charlie Bradshaw’s Thin Thirty of 1959.

I know from first-hand knowledge.

Unfortunately I flew on the team plane to a game in Detroit on an old DC-3 for an Oct. 2, 1962 game that the Cats won 27-8. I was the last person on the plane in Lexington and tackle Junior Hawthorne made some of the Cats squinch up so I could have room to sit.

I am not about to talk about the sleeping arrangements in the hotel where we stayed the night before the game.

Later on, when the exodus just kept getting ridiculous and barbaric, I told Bradshaw that his problem was that he was trying to be Bear Bryant Jr.

He went into a rage. This was in Memorial Coliseum and the fact that there were several other coaches in attendance at a coaching clinic probably kept me from serious injury.

Courier-Journal Sports Editor Earl Ruby and I went to the Tennessee game in Knoxville that UK won 12-10.

Bradshaw gathered his assistants around him and it appeared that the Cats were over the hump and had turned the program around.

But it was not to be, and finally, after the 2-8 1969 season, Bradshaw was let go. He left the UK program in worse shape than it is now in.

Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated has a new book, “Football’s Greatest” in which the National Football League’s top players are named.

Kentucky, unfortunately, doesn’t get its just due.

For instance, Johnny Unitas, the great from the University of Louisville, is listed as the fifth-best quarterback, below Joe Montana, John Elway, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

Of Unitas, SI’s book says, “Only one QB threw for 40,000 yards and 290 TDs during the era of 12-game seasons, the legal head-slap and receivers getting bumped.”

Only one person with Kentucky ties, Cris Collinsworth, is listed No. 1. The son of Abraham Lincoln Collinsworth, who played basketball at UK, Cris is listed as the No. 1 pro football broadcaster, ahead of John Madden and Al Michaels. Howard Cosell was No. 4.

I can think of some Kentuckians who deserve to be No. 1:

Most complete football player: Paul Hornung. Run, kick field goals, punt – you name it and the Golden Boy could do it.

Top game offical: Tommy Bell, the only ref players wanted to work their games. And if one ever got out of line with him, he would immediately be grabbed by teammates and told, “That’s Mr. Bell.”

Tougest: John Unitas.

Best personality: John Sims “Shipwreck Kelly” of Springfield and UK. Who else married the most glamorous debutante with money enough to buy him his own NFL football team? Yes, the Brooklyn Dodgers, the football team, not the baseball one. Brenda Frazier was the deb.

Best punter: Ralph Kercheval of UK and the football Dodgers. He could kick the flatter ball for more distance than today’s best can match.

Most powerful, most punishing runner: Jim Brown and no one else is close. Blanton Collier could tell incredible stories about his speed and power.

Best extra point and field goal kicker: We have two active kickers, Trinity’s Rob Bironas and Tates Creek’s (and UofL’s) David Akers who may go down in the history books as the best.

Category: Earl Cox on Sports

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