Vaughts' Views: September 21, 2017

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He’s not flashy or overly dramatic, but just being himself worked perfectly for Rob Bromley at WKYT-TV (Channel 27) in Lexington for just over 40 years.

That run ends Sept. 29 when Bromley retires after doing what he came to love — covering University of Kentucky sports.

“I have been lucky. My whole style and demeanor came through on air and it worked for me over the years,” said Bromley. “I lasted with my calm demeanor. It’s not easy to sell another style, or would not have been for me. I was able to make it work. The way I went about things was always accepted by the viewers and the way management felt was best for me and the station.”

His parents were not big sports fans. He grew up in New York watching games on a black-and-white TV or listening on the radio. In high school, he got involved in drama and public speaking.

“My parents never pushed me into anything,” Bromley said.

He  decided to attend Butler University in Indianapolis without ever seeing the school. He got his first job at an Indianapolis radio station while he was still in college He started his professional career at Lima, Ohio, as news and sports director of WCIT Radio. His first TV job came as sports director in Lima, Ohio, at the NBC affiliate in 1974.

“It felt so good to sleep in after being on early morning radio,” Bromley said.

Bromley was raised watching baseball and then football. He would listen and watch New York Yankees games. Basketball grew on him.

“You guys are raised different here. You are raised watching college sports. I was more raised watching pro sports,” Bromley said.

He has a lot of special memories like the halfcourt shot Paul Andrews hit in 1982 to win the high school state championship for Laurel County or 1979 state title Lafayette won under coach Jock Sutherland.

Bromley believes last season’s UK-North Carolina game in Las Vegas was the best regular-season basketball game he covered. He also has a fond spot in his heart for the 1998 UK-Duke NCAA Tournament game in St. Petersburg where UK rallied to win and then won the national title.

However, one night he’ll likely never forget came earlier this month when the Lexington Legends had Rob Bromley Bobblehead Night and he threw out the game’s first pitch. Over 900 bobbleheads were handed out to fans and he signed autographs for about 45 minutes.

“Everybody out there was wonderful. It was just a special night, just fantastic,” Bromley said.

Another of those “special” nights will be Sept. 29 when he does his final sportscast on the 11 p.m. news on WKYT. He hopes to have figured out how many sportscasts he has done in 40 plus years when he goes on air that night.

He’ll cover his final UK game when the Wildcats host Florida Sept. 23. What a fitting send-off for Bromley if the Cats (3-0) ended their long losing streak against the Gators then. Maybe Bromley could lead the crowd storming the field after the game if it happens.

“It will be emotional not doing sports any more. It really has not hit me yet,” Bromley said. “It was over 40 years ago I did my first sportscast for WKYT. I don’t know what it will be like not to do it any more.”

Just like many viewers won’t know what it is like not to have Bromley on the air any more because he’s been a central Kentucky TV fixture for so, so long and done it so, so well.

* * *
Could this finally be the Saturday that Kentucky ends the long losing streak to Florida? If you are a Kentucky fan, you sure hope so.

The last UK win came in 1986 at then Commonwealth Stadium when the Cats won 10-3. Kentucky defensive back tony Mayes knocked the ball away from Florida receiver Ricky Nattiel with 29 seconds to go. Kentucky recovered the fumble and had the win. Certainly no one thought going into 2017, UK would not have beat Florida again.

That’s a 30-year losing streak going into Saturday night’s game. It’s the nation’s longest losing streak to one team.

DeDe Haynes, the mother of UK senior offensive lineman Nick Haynes, is from Florida. She’s not seen all the Kentucky losses to Florida obviously, but she’s seen enough and believes the streak will end Saturday.

“I am excited but everything starts and ends with God,” she said outside the stadium while celebrating UK’s win at South Carolina last week. “We are going to relish in this victory. They are going to high five each other on the way home, then see what they could have done better. We do not want Florida to leave Kentucky with another victory. We’ve got to beat them.”

Haynes knows she’ll have a lot of family and friends come to the game at Kroger Field. They all want to be there to see 3-0 Kentucky win another SEC game and put an end to the Florida streak.

“We are looking to have a great time. We will be humble and then celebrate when we win,” Haynes said.

Any doubt at all UK will win?

“No. Florida is going to lose. I have already had a talk with the big fellow. It’s going to happen,” she said.

* * *
Kentucky special teams coordinator Dean Hood had to go into “survival mode” July 11 when his youngest son, 9-year-old Daven, was seriously burned in a brush fire.

“Just grabbed him, put a sweatshirt around him and punched into the GPS (for a hospital) and went to the nearest hospital. I think it took us to some Jessamine County branch,” Hood, the former Eastern Kentucky head coach, said. “They took one look at him and said he has to go to UK Children’s Hospital. They put us in an ambulance to UK and they took one look at him and said he has to go to Shriner’s in Cincinnati. Next thing you know we were there.”

Daven started to heal and went home before a staph infection sent him back to the hospital for another week followed by another week of rehab .

“He was weak and had lost a lot of weight,” Hood said. “But now he’s back in school. It has been a long road for him but he is a tough, little dude.”

Going through experiences like that with his four children has changed Hood as a coach. He admits he coached “differently” before he became a father. He now looks at his players as “big” kids.

“I look at them the same way as I do my children and think how would I want them coached. You change your perspective when you become a dad,” he said.

A perfect example came in UK’s win over Eastern Kentucky when linebacker Jordan Jones was hurt.

“I was in a panic the same way as if it was my son, Trey, at Lexington Christian Academy going down,” Hood said. “There’s no question that has helped me as a coach.”

Hood is close with his players. That’s mainly why he did not tell them about what happened to his son at the time. He didn’t want to worry them.

“I don’t know how many of them know what was going on with him but he is doing good now. He will be coming around now that he’s back healthy,” the UK coach said. “He’s not been around much because he was in the hospital or had to stay at home, but he’s ready to rock-and-roll and be over here with these guys now.”

* * *
Kentucky basketball commit Blair Green of Harlan County felt like she had a good relationship with most everyone at her school. Still, she was not prepared to be picked as the school’s homecoming queen.
“I wasn’t really expecting it. I am friends with most everybody in school and they all told me I had pretty good chance. But you just never expect something like that,” Green said.
She was in no hurry to take her crown off even though she gets to keep it.
“It’s sitting on my jewelry box now but I didn’t want to take it off,” she laughed and said.
She would like to add another crown of sorts this season. Her goal is to become Miss Basketball like her friend, and current UK junior basketball player, Maci Morris did at Bell County.
“That is definitely a goal I work toward every day. It’s really exciting just to be nominated. To win it would be such a great honor,” Green said.
Her mother, Debbie Green, is her high school coach and a former UK player. Blair Green has been not only doing conditioning work but staying in the gym to get up extra shots and lift weights.
She’ll be taking her official visit to UK this weekend so she can attend the Kentucky-Florida game Saturday at Kroger Field.
“I am trying to enjoy a lot of exciting things right now. I am trying to do as much as I can to have fun and still get ready for my season and then going to UK,” Green said.
She’s taking several dual college credit courses to give her a head start academically at UK. She hopes to have about 20 hours of college credit when she enrolls at UK in June.
Green is considering a major in communications — where her personality would be a perfect fit — or pharmacy — where the earnings potential would be a lot higher.
“Coach Mitchell has said with the hours I will have that I could graduate and then get into pharmacy school my senior year,” Green said. “But I also think communications would be a natural for me. So we’ll just see what happens there.”
* * *

Quote of the Week: “I’m going start as a true freshman no matter what .. believe me when I say that 100 (percent),” Kentucky quarterback commit Jarren Williams of Georgia on Twitter.

Quote of the Week 2: “The thing I like about him is that his recruiting was not highly publicized. There was no social media hype, no 15,000 fans hitting him up (on social media). I like it the other way.  Just keep it under wraps, stay on the kid and he makes a decision that benefits him,” UK assistant basketball coach Kenny Payne on recruiting Jemarl Baker.

Quote of the Week 3: “Just staying fundamental with it. We are never going to give up the Wildcat. It’s all about each person doing his job. We believe in it,” running back Benny Snell after scoring two touchdowns out of the Wildcat in the win at South Carolina.

 

Rob Bromley has always been a fan favorite, but UK players feel the same way as shown by Marcus Lee having a little fun with a photobomb during Bromley postgame report. (Steve Moss Photo)