LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky head coach Rich Brooks has received a contact extension through the 2011 season and will receive a raise in pay to $1.6 million per year, UK Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart announced Friday.
“The University of Kentucky is very appreciative of the steadfast effort and plan that Rich has put into place to allow us to have back-to-back bowl victories for the first time in more than half a century,” Barnhart said. “He is providing this program with the continuity and consistency that has enabled us to compete in the most difficult football league in America.
“The success that we have enjoyed over the last two seasons and his leadership of the young men in the program make him very deserving of this new agreement. He has restored integrity and stability to a program that was facing monumental challenges when he arrived.”
The extension and raise reward the remarkable rebuilding job done by Brooks, who took over a program for the 2003 season that was burdened by the effects of NCAA probation. Inheriting a low number of players and further hampered by probation-imposed scholarship reductions, Brooks had only 70 recruited scholarship players for the 2003 season, 72 recruited scholarship players in 2004, and just 69 for the ’05 campaign – well below the NCAA maximum of 85.
The results were predictable as Kentucky produced a 9-25 record for the 2003-05 seasons. But all along, Brooks and his coaching staff were building a program. The fruits of patient coaching and tireless recruiting were realized when the Wildcats went 8-5 in the 2006 season, including a Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl upset of highly favored Clemson. It was the most wins for a Kentucky team and first bowl victory since 1984.
Additional highlights of the ’06 campaign included:
third place in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division, UK’s best league finish since 1993
a final national ranking of 28th in the Sagarin Computer Ratings published in USA Today
one of the 10 most improved teams in the nation, based on a five-win improvement from 2005
the first win in an SEC opener in 19 years
the first win over Georgia in 10 years
a win over Mid-American Conference champion Central Michigan
three consecutive fourth-quarter comeback victories over Georgia, Vanderbilt, and Louisiana-Monroe
More dramatic results were produced in 2007 – another eight-win season, coming against a schedule rated as high as the fifth-most difficult in the nation – capped by a Music City Bowl triumph over perennial power Florida State. Additional landmarks featured:
UK defeated two top-10 ranked opponents, then-No. 9 Louisville and eventual national champion LSU. It was the first time since 1977 that UK defeated a top-10 ranked team. It was only the third time in school history, and the first in 43 years, that UK knocked off a pair of top-10 ranked foes in the same season
Kentucky’s win over No. 1 LSU was only the third time in school history, and the first since 1964, that the Wildcats dispatched a top-ranked team
UK had back-to-back eight-win seasons for the first time in 30 years, since 1976-77
UK won back-to-back bowl games for only the second time in school history, and the first time in 56 years, since the 1950-51 seasons
UK was the only team in the nation to defeat three conference champions – opening the season with a win over Eastern Kentucky, the eventual Ohio Valley conference champ; later beating Florida Atlantic, the eventual Sun Belt titlist; and then LSU, the eventual SEC and national champion
Kentucky returned to The Associated Press national rankings for the first time in 23 seasons, since the 1984 campaign. The Wildcats were in the rankings for eight weeks, reaching as high as No. 8. Kentucky did not finish the season in the top 25, but were third among other teams receiving votes
Kentucky was listed in the BCS poll for the first time in school history. The Wildcats were ranked as high as No. 7 in the BCS rating
Five of the six computer ratings used in the BCS system put Kentucky in the nation’s top 25 teams in the season-ending results. Kentucky’s final ranking was as high as No. 18 as listed in the Sagarin Ratings
Kentucky completed an eight-game home winning streak, most ever in Commonwealth Stadium
UK has an active streak of nine consecutive non-conference wins, the most since a 17-game non-conference win stretch from 1954-60
Kentucky set school records for total attendance (550,588) and average attendance (68,824). UK ranked in the nation’s top 25 in average attendance, a feat that has been achieved eight out of nine seasons since Commonwealth Stadium was expanded in 1999
“I feel that it was important, from a recruiting standpoint, to have a relatively long-term contract in place so that recruits know that there is stability in the program,” Brooks said. “I appreciate the administration’s willingness to move forward and I look forward to more success, bowl games, and keeping our program at a highly competitive level in the Southeastern Conference.”