The Remarkable Run of UK’s Football Program … in 1950

1950-51 Kentucky Wildcats. U. of Ky. Libraries.

With Kentucky football on the brink of 5-1 needing a home win against Louisiana-Monroe tomorrow for the best record since 2007, times feel good with Kentucky football.

Historically, that isn’t an emotion we’ve gotten to ride very often.

But if you go back a little over half a century, you’ll find the greatest year for athletics at the University of Kentucky.

Bear Bryant, ca. 1950. U. of Ky. Libraries.

The familiar part of the
story is tied, of course, to basketball. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, the UK Wildcats defeated Kansas State’s squad in the NCAA finals. It was the third tourney win for Adolph Rupp’s team which finished its season with a 32-2 record.

But on the gridiron, Bear Bryant’s Wildcats fought out a 10-1 record during the regular season and were destined for a Sugar Bowl matchup against the the University of Oklahoma.

In those days, final football national media rankings were determined prior to the bowl seasonAs a result, the national championship nod was given to the Oklahoma Sooners. But the Wildcats wouldn’t cooperate during on New Years Day 1951 in New Orleans. The following video clip from the news reel contains highlight from the matchup.

Vito Parilli passes the football during 1951 Sugar Bowl
U. of Ky. Libraries.

So under the arm of quarterback Babe Parilli, #8 Kentucky soundly clinched victory over the #1 ranked Sooneers. Hindsight, being 20/20, utilized the computer algorithms of Jeff Sagarain to recompute rankings of historic football squads, inclusive of their bowl records. Recomputed, Kentucky’s Sugar Bowl victory made it the National Champions for the 1950-51 football season!

In either event, there is no doubt that it would have been an exciting time on campus. Coaches Adolph Rupp and Bear Bryant both earned well-deserved welcomes in Lexington as they each brought significant trophies home to the University of

Go Cats!

This post is based on an excerpt about Stoll Field & McLean Stadium from LOST LEXINGTON, KY.

Lexington has dozens of well-restored landmarks, but so many more are lost forever. The famous Phoenix Hotel, long a stop for weary travelers and politicians alike, has risen from its own ashes numerous times over the past centuries. The works of renowned architect John McMurtry were once numerous around town, but some of the finest examples are gone. The Centrepointe block has been made and unmade so many times that its original tenants are unknown to natives now.

Preorder LOST LEXINGTON here