“That’s How I Got to Memphis” is a country-western song that was written by Tom T. Hall in the late 1960’s. Its slow, easy listening, progression gives it that Tom T. Hall trademark sound. Hall was known throughout Nashville as, “The Storyteller” for the dozens of hits he wrote for himself and other recording artists. “That’s How I Got to Memphis” is my favorite of his collection. It tells a story of a man searching for what seems to be a woman he is in love with. The chorus goes as follows:
If you love somebody enough, you’ll follow wherever they go
That’s how I got to Memphis, That’s how I got to Memphis
If you love somebody enough, you’ll go where your heart wants to go
That’s how I got to Memphis, that’s how I got to Memphis
“Memphis” serves as a metaphor, in this case, for how someone arrived at where they are supposed to be in life. In the song, he followed someone he loved there. For others it may be a multitude of things that bring us to “Memphis,” whether it be our children, pets, etc. It’s, essentially, an explanation for how we arrive at the place we are in life, everyone with their own driving force that carried them on the journey, whether it be passion, destiny, or just by chance.
UK Football has seen a tumultuous past couple of weeks. In fact, it’s tough to remember a time when the fan base has sank lower. The football program that seemed to have such a bright future just 3 years ago is all but a pipe dream at this point to most fans. Frustration among the fan base is at an all-time high and truthfully fans should be frustrated. Fans have become increasingly vocal about giving up on the football program all together. This is not a criticism by any means. I, too, have become so frustrated with the state of the program that the best option seems to be just forgetting about football all together. Upon further thought, however, I realized that I would never have the stomach to just abandon UK football, not at this point.
The outsider belief is that UK is a basketball school and the fans could care less about the football team. This is just not true. A fan base that only cares about basketball doesn’t have multiple losing seasons in a row yet still get excited about the next season because they just know “it’s going to be different.” After a humiliating loss to a C-USA school, there were UK fans the very next day predicting this was going to be the year we end the Florida losing streak. Insane. Irrational. What is it that makes us as fans think in such illogical ways? It’s passion. The fans saying they have given up on football for good are merely making a promise they inevitably won’t be able to keep. It simply just isn’t in our nature. Sure, they might forego buying season tickets and stop going to games for a while, it’s their right to do so if they wish. However, at the end of the day, when they see Lucy holding that football, they’re going to be right there ready to kick it fully believing that this will be the time she doesn’t move it.
Apathy, by its very definition, means to lack concern with no feelings for or against. For one truly not to care about UK Football they must express no emotion in regards to the team. I am by no means an optimist when it comes to UK football but no matter how disgusted I get with the program there’s something in me that just refuses to give up. I joke and poke fun at UK football constantly but this is merely just a coping mechanism, a shield that helps deflect frustration and disappointment. I continue to be frustrated and disappointed because deep down I really do still care. That emotion still exists. I think this is the case with many UK fans.
This passion and intrinsic instinct to keep holding on is what makes us, us. Never have we displayed more of this blind loyalty than in the last four years. There has never been more fan support for a coaching staff in UK Football history than there has been for Mark Stoops and Co. Despite our best efforts, Stoops has yet to hold up his end of the bargain. With the way this season has started, it appears his promise of taking UK back to a bowl game will, most likely, go unfulfilled for yet another year. It will be quite an undertaking, at this point, for Stoops as well as Mitch Barnhart to regain the trust of the fan base.
This diminishing trust should not be confused with lack of passion. UK fans want, ultimately, what they think is best for the program. At this point I think fans would like to see a change take place, not only in the coaching staff but also in who is responsible for choosing the next football coach. Until this happens, fans will continue to feel rejected and enthusiasm will continue to diminish. This certainly won't be the result of not caring, in fact, it will come about because we care so much.
Kentucky football is the “Memphis” of the Big Blue Nation. Our passion and loyalty are what have guided us to be the fans we are today. There’s always going to be that passion that exists in all of us, that keeps us coming back for more. A fan base that cares so much, should be listened to, not demanded to be thankful for what we've got. Criticism shouldn't get associated with rejection, it just means that we really care. Just as Tom T. Hall wrote nearly fifty years ago, “If you love somebody enough, you’ll follow wherever they go.” UK fans will continue to follow the football team wherever they go because the fire that burns inside all of us will never be put out.