The SEC is always one of the toughest conferences in college football. With programs like Alabama, LSU, Auburn, and Texas A&M all in just one division of the conference — the SEC West — that goes to show you just how dominant the conference can be on any given year.
That’s not even mentioning the SEC East, which does boast Top 25 mainstays like Florida, Georgia and wild card programs such as Tennessee and South Carolina.
It’s a deep conference, perhaps the deepest in college football, but ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit thinks that one program, in particular, is not getting its due heading into the 2017 season.
That program, perhaps a bit surprisingly, is Kentucky.
In his annual “Herbies” award piece, the longtime analyst and game-day television personality revealed that he’s high on the Wildcats. That may make sense if we’re talking about basketball — a sport in which Kentucky is dominant — but football?
That’s a bit of a stretch, isn’t it?
This is a Kentucky program that went 7-6 last season with a loss in the Taxslayer Bowl. Mark Stoops hasn’t won more than seven games in his four seasons as head coach in Lexington and even if the Wildcats play better this season and surprise a few people, how good are they going to be with a schedule that features away games at South Carolina, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Georgia? None of those teams are easy to play on the road, and that’s not even considering an away game to start the season at Southern Miss that won’t be easy — though it is winnable.
Kentucky does play Florida, Tennessee, and Louisville at home in 2017, but Lexington doesn’t provide the football team with the same kind of home field advantage the basketball team has enjoyed, and all three of those schools are ranked in the Top 25 heading into the season — No. 17, No. 25 and No. 16, respectively.
Kentucky has a tough schedule in 2017, but that’s just life in the SEC.
Perhaps the Wildcats will finally surprise a few people and have a better than decent year, but are you really willing to bet on Kentucky football?
Apparently, Herbstreit is. He’s at the very least betting some of his reputation.