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TIGER KICKOFF: 10 things you didn't know about Kentucky

Friday, October 26, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:35 a.m. CDT, Friday, October 26, 2012

COLUMBIA — After a bye week that allowed the team to heal up and put its losses behind it, Missouri is looking for its first Southeastern Conference victory against Kentucky, a team that is 0-5 in the SEC and 1-7 overall.

But other than its difficulties on the gridiron this season, what else stands out about the Wildcats? Well, as Missouri prepares for another Homecoming game, here's 10 things you might not know about Kentucky.

10. Kentucky’s school colors were determined, in part, because of a necktie. Late in 1891 the student body held a meeting to decide the school’s colors. When trying to determine what shade of blue to choose, football player Richard C. Stoll pulled off his royal blue necktie and held it up. The students decided on that particular shade of blue, as well as light yellow. However, in 1892 the yellow was changed to white, a combination the school still uses today.

9. The Wildcat mascot was established during the 1976-77 academic year and featured a life-size wildcat that walked around in a Kentucky uniform and cheered for the Wildcats. However, this giant predator was predictably not embraced by small children, who were often afraid of the mascot. To solve that problem, the mascot “Scratch” was introduced a few years later, a more cartoonish Wildcat who is friendlier and approachable. To this day, both mascots regularly attend Kentucky’s athletic events.

8. While Kentucky’s men’s basketball team is the winningest program in college basketball history, it wasn’t the first basketball team to be established by the university. The women’s team actually came first, playing its first season in 1902. The men’s team was established a year later and has won eight national championships since.

7. Perhaps the most famous shot in college basketball history was made at the expense of Kentucky in 1992. Down 103-102 in overtime of the East Regional of the NCAA tournament, Duke had 2.1 seconds to score and get past Kentucky. Grant Hill inbounded the ball by throwing an overhand pass three-quarters the length of the court that was caught by Christian Laettner at the free-throw line. Laettner turned and hit a jumper as time expired to beat the Wildcats, a play that serves as a low point in an otherwise proud basketball culture.

6. The men’s basketball team is actually not the most successful athletic program at Kentucky, though. The school’s cheerleading program has won 19 national championships, more than any other college program. It has been particularly dominant in the past decade, winning 10 national titles from 2002 to 2012.

5. Before he became an icon at Alabama, Paul “Bear” Bryant was a Wildcat. Bryant served as Kentucky’s head football coach from 1946 to 1953, leading the team to its first bowl appearance in 1947 and first SEC Championship in 1950. He’d go on to win six national championships as the head coach of the Crimson Tide.

4. Kentucky broke the color barrier in the SEC in 1966, when African-Americans Nat Northington and Greg Page were allowed on the football team. The SEC was the last major football conference to accept African-American players.

3. Kentucky’s football stadium, Commonwealth Stadium, was built in 1973, which still makes it the newest stadium in the SEC. It was expanded in 1999 and has a capacity of 67,942.

2. Lexington called Virginia home before Kentucky. When Lexington was established as a city in 1775, Kentucky was not yet a state. Therefore, it was originally Lexington, Va. It did not become part of Kentucky until Kentucky was established in 1792. Now, Lexington is the second largest city in Kentucky, smaller only than Louisville.

1. Lexington is known as the “Horse Capital of the World,” even though it isn’t. The city got its nickname because of the bounty of horse farms that surround the city’s downtown area. However, the city of Ocala, Fla., is actually the “Horse Capital of the World,” according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Despite all the numerous signs in town that declare otherwise, Lexington doesn’t have rights to the actual title.


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