LEXINGTON, Ky. — There was a day — Nov. 15, 1986, to be precise — when Florida was not the big, bad bogeyman for Kentucky football. The Wildcats beat the Gators that day and drew nearly even in the all-time series: 17 wins, 20 losses.
The next day, a cursed child was born in Ohio.
Kristin Heath came into the world on Nov. 16, 1986, not as a UK fan by birth, but something much more terrifying: a future UK fan whose father nearly missed her delivery that fateful Sunday because he was watching his beloved, eternally damned Cleveland Browns.
Are we to believe it is purely coincidence, then, that Heath has been alive now for 11,266 days and the Wildcats have gone exactly 11,266 days without beating Florida? I think not.
“Oh, God, well … when you put it that way …” she said Tuesday upon learning her role in the longest active losing streak in college football. “That’s really sad to think that I’m the curse.”
The former Kristin Kover officially became a Wildcats fan in 2004, when she committed to play soccer at the University of Kentucky. There, she met her husband, Andrew Heath, a lifelong member of Big Blue Nation — another 30-year-old fan with as many birthdays as losses to the Gators since his wife was born.
For all this time, they’d been happily married and blissfully unaware of what Kristin has done to Kentucky football.
“I hope I’m not married to the curse,” Andrew said. “Thank you for bringing it to my attention, in case I do end up having to divorce her for this streak to end.”
He was totally kidding, he said. But was he? Consider:
- Two months before his walking jinx of a wife’s seventh birthday, Danny Wuerffel hit Chris Doering with 3 seconds left to crush Commonwealth Stadium.
- About the time UK started recruiting Kristin for soccer, the football team blew a 21-3 lead against Florida. Jared Lorenzen’s baffling, blind, grenade-toss of a late interception was the kind of play only dark magic could deliver.
- In 2007, right around the time Kristin was old enough to drink, everyone in Kentucky needed a stiff one. The Wildcats beat No. 1 LSU one week and had the Gators on the ropes the next — but Andre Woodson’s 5 touchdown passes were negated by an angel in shoulder pads, Tim Tebow.
- And who else but a voodoo lady could have caused officials to go blind as Florida’s play clock expired during the Wildcats’ triple-overtime loss at The Swamp in 2014?
“I’m in disbelief,” Kristin told me Monday night, “at the fact that we haven’t beaten them in my lifetime.”
You and tens of thousands of other weary fans, sister. Toward the end of our conversation, Andrew’s shock turned to fear.
“If you could paint this story so that our house doesn’t get burned down — because you know how our fans are — that would be great,” he said.
Sorry, bud, no can do. The facts are the facts. Kristin was born and Kentucky has been losing to Florida ever since.
And it gets worse, BBN. The Curse and her husband, whose father has season tickets, will be in the stadium, which has been renamed Kroger Field this year expressly to erase all the bad mojo of the last three decades (we assume), when the Gators come to town to face the undefeated and newly hopeful Wildcats.
“The only thing that’s scary,” Kristin said, “is I feel like Kentucky plays better when I’m not watching.”
Now here’s the good news: In 2006, Kristin, the clear cause of so much football suffering, did help the UK women’s soccer team defeat Florida in an SEC championship game. So maybe the spell is weakening.
And this year, she gave birth to son Hudson, whose lifetime includes zero losses to the Gators.
“Hopefully he’ll bring us a little luck,” said Andrew, imagining a scene Saturday night in which his wife finally releases the Wildcats from her curse. “If that happens, I’m headed straight to the field. It’s going to be very exciting. We’ve seen some close ones, some heartbreaking ones, and the memories of those games alone, the relief that I will have for getting that monkey off our back, will be incredible.”
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